Crash landing on an uncharted planet was never going to look anything but spectacular when the minds behind the last two Star Trek films and the director of Fast & Furious 3–6 got together. Star Trek Beyond doesn’t wrap up as spectacularly as its bold initial vector, but this sci-fi adventure still manages to be rip-roaring fun.
On planet Rilgar, one of two game areas available in the demo for Ratchet & Clank, there is a seemingly impassable tunnel. This tunnel, a platforming gauntlet made all the more desperate by the pressure of a rising water level, can only be passed with a combination of gadgetry, mechanical understanding and flawless timing. Most first-timers aren’t capable of making it through this treacherous challenge with anything approaching casual decorum. But once you attain the skill and understanding to master it, you appreciate this formative sci-fi character action game more keenly than when you first took a chance on its fuzzy-eared protagonist and his robotic sidekick.
History has taught us that anybody attempting to revive a film series as monolithic and beloved as Star Wars was doomed to fail. There is too much legacy, too much expectation and too many stakeholders to please, the naysayers said. JJ Abrams and crew have just proved them wrong, because The Force Awakens revitalises the series with the spirit and spectacle many have longed for.
Today’s game has dramatically changed the life of our guest poster, who recently left her nine-to-five job to become a full-time video streamer.
That game is Alien: Isolation, created by the talented team at British developer, Creative Assembly.
Space is a cold, lonely place. Which is why, whenever filmmakers blast actors into the fictional heavens in search of strange new worlds, they’re always after focal points that will make events more human.
That’s certainly director Christopher Nolan’s aim with Interstellar, a film of humongous scope that boldly goes forth to tell another tale of mankind’s struggle for survival, but is ultimately about a father-daughter relationship.
For the past month I have been embroiled in a wondrous chase. A chase so thrilling it feels as though I’ve left the physical part of me behind every time I tune into its hyperactive frequency.
What I didn’t realise was just how deep her emotional touch would be with the breadth of her stupendous sounds. Tunes like ‘Many Moons’, ‘Faster’ and ‘Oh, Maker’ took me on an astral hike like never before. Impossible to resist, these tracks just send my body into overdrive. Even when confined to the drudgery of my commute and expected behaviour on public transport, a brilliant tableau of imagery is flowing in my mind’s eye as Monáe’s music and messages engulf my senses. And this isn’t your usual ‘girl meets boy and falls in love’ lyrics. She manages to express serious social commentary on race, segregation and war through a conceptual allegory which forms the basis for her image. As Tony Renner says, Monáe’s albums are to be listened to in their entirety if you wish to experience the full impact of her art.
She inhabits her alter ego of Cindi Mayweather, an android who has fallen in love with a human, Anthony Greendown, in this hash postmodern world, where many of today inequalities still exist. As a result of her affection, she is now on the run from the Wolfmasters and their merciless band of bounty hunters in a city built on social stratification.
Confident, stylish and with plenty of fan-pleasing call-backs, I walked out of Star Trek with a feel-good sentiment that not every Hollywood remake or “reimagining” will turn out to be a horrific mess. I fully enjoyed it. No matter how many of these opinion posts I write; I’m no film critic, they are just that, my opinion. Just to play devil’s advocate, one might argue that the film didn’t offer anything new beyond the usual blockbuster expectations – SFX, a predictable plot and stuff going BOOM! But, you know what? That’s absolutely fine by me when the medium is used to its full potential, as it was in Star Trek. It may not win any Academy Awards, because, let’s face it, apparently sci-fi, comic book and blockbuster movies just aren’t Oscar material, but it’s precisely the kind of experience the big screen thrives on.
I do often wonder what other people in the cinema are thinking during the viewing. That middle-aged man in the business suit; hmm, this bar scene reminds me of my carefree student days, the cinema attendant in the corner on his eighth viewing that day ; I wonder if I’ll ever get to make a film like this someday, or the grumpy looking girlfriend; Why did I let David drag me to this? It’s sssoooo boring! Perhaps one day I’ll find out, if I ever inherit the ability to read minds. For me, the answer is quite simple. I haven’t picked up a pirate DVD in years simply because the viewing experience is utter tosh. People work hard to make films and I work hard to earn my money, so I’ve no problem paying the admission fee to see a film if it’s a satisfying experience. And Star Trek fulfilled my pandering need for escapism in moon-sized heaps.
The flashy sci-fi Federation gear was there. The costumes – the science guys in blue, the pilots or commanders in yellow and the red guys, whoever they are, security or something. Olympian shots of the starship Enterprise set amid even grander space phenomena. The on-screen brilliance of going to warp speed, that probably costs tens of thousands. A cast that appeared comfortable and fully aware of the expectation surrounding the film. A well-made script that works beautifully as a standalone film, but still manages to pay homage to the legacy of Star Trek, without feeling like a complete rehash. And enough ‘space action’ to make me want to dive straight into the projector screen as if it were a portal to the film itself.
Purely as a lover of science-fiction, astronomy and all things celestial, the film was gob-smacking. Kirk and Sulu freefalling from orbit to the precarious head of a planetary mining beaming. A black hole consuming a planet from the inside out – obliterating life in one terrifying instant. An octopus-like alien starship that reeked of menace and danger the moment it emerged from the murky darkness. A climactic last minute escape. And all with the usual bravado and gung-ho battle plans from Starfleet’s premier peacekeeping force. All of this and more had me leaning forward in my seat, desperate that my dreams of a projector-screen-portal might come true. Meanwhile a grumpy looking female spouse really was sitting next to me. Clearly her response was completely illogical
It wasn’t only the startling depiction of space and special effects wizardry that impressed me. The cast were far better than I original expected, given the history of Hollywood rebirths and the series’ legacy. Chris Pine as the risk-taking womanising, Captain Kirk, was a prime choice and certainly seems fit to sit in the captain’s chair by the end of the film. Performing less head operations in his role as the emotionless Mr Spock, Zackary Quinto had a LOT to prove. Some gripping scenes of lost, love and regret merged with some classic Spock moments made him a true star on that holo-screen. Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Coo as Sulu, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and Zoe Saldaña as the voluptuous Uhura; all wonderful interpretations of the original characters, with some semi-comedic references that almost sound out of place at times. Add in an irrefutable Leonard Nimoy performance – that’s more than just a cameo, it actually makes some sense regarding the plot – and you’re done.
Simply put, if you love eye-engulfing space vistas, cross-species romance and stuff blowing up, you’ll love Star Trek. If you’ve played enough video games to know that ‘when in doubt, shoot everything’ you’ll love Star Trek. If you like teleportation, phasers, communicators, and engaging your imaginary warp drive with the broken heater button in your second-hand car, you’ll love Star Trek. If you know enough about the series to enjoy this film trailer with understandable apprehension or this snippet from the original series with fuzz nostalgia, you’ll love Star Trek. Of course, I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy it as much as the space-loving ravings of this daydreamer (whose childhood dream of going into space was crushed by the realisation that technology won’t be advanced enough to make it as easy as hopping in the car to KFC for a good few centuries) imply. Live long and prosper.