REVIEW: STAR TREK (2009)

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Ben Cross (Live Wire)
Winona Ryder (Little Women)
Clifton Collins, Jr. (Westworld)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother)
Rachel Nichols (GI. Joe)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Brad William Henke (Lost)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Tyler Perry (Gone Girl)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Amanda Foreman (Alias)
Jimmy Bennett (No Ordinary Family)
Bob Clendenin (Scrubs)
Lisa Vidal (The Event)
Oz Perkins (Secretary)
Mark Bramhall (Annabelle Creation)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)

In the 23rd century, the Federation starship USS Kelvin is investigating a “lightning storm” in space. A Romulan ship, the Narada, emerges from the storm and attacks the Kelvin. Narada’s first officer, Ayel, demands that the Kelvin’s Captain Robau come aboard to negotiate a truce. Robau is questioned about the current stardate and an “Ambassador Spock”, whom he does not recognize. Narada’s commander, Nero, kills him, and resumes attacking the Kelvin. George Kirk, the Kelvin’s first officer, orders the ship’s personnel, including his pregnant wife Winona, to abandon ship while he pilots the Kelvin on a collision course with the Narada. Kirk sacrifices his life to ensure Winona’s survival as she gives birth to James T. Kirk.

Seventeen years later on the planet Vulcan, a young Spock is accepted to join the Vulcan Science Academy. Realizing the Academy views his human mother Amanda as a “disadvantage”, he joins Starfleet instead. On Earth, Kirk becomes a reckless but intelligent young adult. Following a bar fight with Starfleet cadets accompanying Nyota Uhura, Kirk meets Captain Christopher Pike, who encourages him to enlist in Starfleet Academy, where Kirk meets and befriends doctor Leonard McCoy.

Three years later, Commander Spock accuses Kirk of cheating during the Kobayashi Maru simulation. Kirk argues that cheating was acceptable because the simulation was designed to be unbeatable. The disciplinary hearing is interrupted by a distress signal from Vulcan. With the primary fleet out of range, the cadets are mobilized. McCoy and Kirk board Pike’s ship, the Enterprise. Realizing that the “lightning storm” observed near Vulcan is similar to the one that occurred when he was born, Kirk breaks protocol to convince Pike that the distress signal is a trap.

Enterprise finds the fleet destroyed and the Narada drilling into Vulcan’s core. The Narada attacks the Enterprise and Pike surrenders, delegating command of the ship to Spock and promoting Kirk to first officer. Kirk, Hikaru Sulu and Chief Engineer Olson perform a space jump onto the drilling platform. Olson is killed but Kirk and Sulu disable the drill. Despite their efforts, Nero launches “red matter” into Vulcan’s core, forming an artificial black hole that destroys Vulcan. Spock rescues the high council and his father Sarek, but Amanda dies.

As the Narada moves toward Earth, Nero tortures Pike to gain access to Earth’s defense codes. Spock maroons Kirk on Delta Vega after Kirk attempts mutiny. Kirk encounters an older Spock, who explains that he and Nero are from 129 years in the future. In that future, Romulus was threatened by a supernova. Spock’s attempt to use “red matter” to create an artificial black hole and consume the supernova failed, and Nero’s family perished along with Romulus. The Narada and Spock’s vessel were caught in the black hole, sending them back in time. Nero stranded Spock on Delta Vega to watch Vulcan’s destruction.

Reaching a Starfleet outpost, Kirk and the elder Spock meet Montgomery Scott. With the elder Spock’s help, Kirk and Scott beam onto the Enterprise. Following the elder Spock’s advice, Kirk provokes younger Spock into attacking him, forcing Spock to recognize he is emotionally compromised and relinquish command to Kirk. After talking with Sarek, Spock decides to help Kirk. While the Enterprise hides itself within the gas clouds of Titan, Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Narada. Kirk fights with Nero and Ayel, killing the latter and rescuing Pike while Spock uses the elder Spock’s ship to destroy the drill. Spock leads the Narada away from Earth and sets his ship to collide with Nero’s ship. Enterprise beams Kirk, Pike and Spock aboard. The older Spock’s ship and the Narada collide, igniting the “red matter”. Kirk offers Nero help to escape, but Nero refuses, prompting Kirk to give the order to fire, dooming the Narada to be consumed in a black hole.

Kirk is promoted to Captain and given command of the Enterprise while Pike is promoted to Rear Admiral. Spock encounters his older self, who persuades his younger self to continue serving in Starfleet, encouraging him to do what feels right instead of what is logical. Spock remains in Starfleet, becoming first officer under Kirk’s command. The Enterprise goes to warp as the elder Spock speaks the “where no one has gone before” monologue.The story does what it needs to, the casting is great (especially Spock and McCoy), the effects are fantastic and Abrams manages to do character moments on the move so there’s hardly time to take a breath – oh and Simon Pegg is great as Scotty! Maybe the best thing is, die hards and newbies alike will all find something to like.

REVIEW: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)

CAST

Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Rachel Nichols (Alias)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)

Conan is the son of Corin, chief of a barbarian tribe. The youth is a skilled but violent warrior, who his father believes is not ready to wield his own sword. One day, their village is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym, a warlord who wishes to reunite the pieces of the Mask of Acheron in order to revive his dead wife and conquer Hyboria. Thousands of years ago, the Mask, crafted by a group of sorcerers and used to subjugate the world, was broken into many pieces, which were scattered among the barbarian tribes. After locating Corin’s piece of the mask, and murdering the entire village, Zym leaves. Conan is the only survivor, and swears revenge.Jason Momoa in Conan the Barbarian (2011)Years later, Conan has become a pirate, but still seeks revenge. He encounters a slave colony and frees it, killing all of the slave handlers in the process. In the city of Messantia, he encounters Ela-Shan, a thief being chased by a man whom Conan recognizes as Lucius, one of Zym’s soldiers from years before. He allows himself to be captured alongside Ela-Shan. Conan escapes imprisonment, kills several of the guards, and confronts Lucius, forcing him to reveal that Zym seeks a girl, the pure-blood descendant of the sorcerers of Acheron; sacrificing the descendant and using blood from the body of the girl will unleash the mask’s power. Conan helps the rest of the prisoners to escape, and, in gratitude, Ela-Shan tells Conan that, if he ever needs him, Conan will find him at the City of Thieves, Argalon. Lucius is then killed by the prisoners.

Zym and his daughter, the sorceress Marique attack a monastery where they hope to find the pure-blood descendant. Sensing something is wrong, Fassir, an elderly monk, tells one of his students, Tamara, to run away and return to her birthplace. When Fassir refuses to reveal his knowledge of the descendant, Zym kills him. Marique also slays several of the priestesses. Tamara’s carriage is chased by Zym’s men, but Conan rescues her, kills three of her pursuers, and also captures one of Zym’s men, Remo. After forcing him to reveal Tamara’s importance as the pure-blood, Conan catapults Remo into Zym’s nearby camp, killing him.

Zym and Marique confront Conan, who pretends to be interested in exchanging Tamara for gold. Conan attacks Zym, but Marique assists her father by invoking soldiers made of sand, and then poisons Conan with a poison-laced boomerang sword. Tamara rescues him and they return to Conan’s ship, stationed nearby, where his friend Artus helps Conan recover. The boat is attacked by Zym’s men, but although they kill several of Conan’s men, they are defeated. Conan orders Artus to return to Messantia with Tamara and departs to confront Zym in his kingdom. Artus tells Tamara that Conan left a map behind and she follows him, meeting with him in a cave, where they strip naked and copulate. The next day, as she is returning to the boat, Zym’s men and daughter capture her.

Conan learns of Tamara’s capture and departs to Argalon, where he asks Ela-Shan to help him break into Zym’s castle unnoticed. Zym prepares to drain Tamara’s blood, mending the mask. He then plans to use the girl’s body as a vessel for his wife. After confronting an octopus-like monster, the Dweller, that guards the dungeons and killing its four handlers, along with Ukafa, Conan infiltrates Zym’s followers, kills a guard and steals his robe, and watches as Zym puts on the empowered mask. Conan releases Tamara, and she escapes as he battles Zym with the castle falling around them. Marique attacks Tamara, but Conan hears Tamara’s scream and defeats Marique, cutting off her hand. Tamara kicks her into a pit, where her body pierced by a large spike. Zym comes and, finding his daughter’s body impaled by the spike, he swears revenge upon Conan.

Conan and Tamara become trapped on an unstable bridge as Zym attacks them. He uses the mask’s power to call forth the spirit of his deceased wife, Maliva, a powerful sorceress who was executed by the monks from Tamara’s monastery for attempting to unleash occult forces to destroy Hyborea, and Maliva’s spirit begins to possess Tamara’s body. She begs Conan to let her fall, but he refuses, and instead stabs the bridge before jumping to safety with Tamara. The bridge collapses, taking Zym along. The power-hungry ruler falls to the lava below the immense precipice screaming the name of his wife, implying his demise.

Conan and Tamara escape and he returns her to her birthplace, telling her that they’ll meet again. He then returns to Corin’s village and tells the memory of his father that he has avenged his death and recovered the sword Marique stole from him, restoring his honor.Jason Momoa in Conan the Barbarian (2011)This remake has plenty of action, thankfully so as it takes some of the attention away from the few dubious acting talents & casting decisions on show. As the lead, Jason Momoa is not built quite like Arnie & doesn’t have a whole load of facial expressions, but he is a slightly better actor. Seasoned thespian, Stephen Lang, makes this a bit more worthwhile during the almost 2 hour run time, playing the baddie role very well. Also, Morgan Freeman’s (The Shawshank Redemption) deep rich voice adds some strength to the narration of the opening dialogues.