Monday, October 31, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #72: "Seconds" (1966)

Movie Stats:
Released 1966 (France)
American, in English
Director - John Frankenheimer
Stars - Rock Hudson, John Randolph, Salome Jens

Plot Summary:
Middle-aged banker Arthur Hamilton (Randolph) is given the opportunity to start over with a new identity, but that opportunity comes with a price. Hudson co-stars as Hamilton in his new identity, Antiochus Wilson, and Jens as Nora Marcus, Wilson’s love interest.

Minor gore; full female nudity; brief male nudity (butt only); non-graphic rape.

Bad Stuff:
It’s a little slow.

I didn’t like the soundtrack, especially in the beginning, which sounded like a 1930s horror flick. It was over-the-top.

I’m having trouble expressing how I felt about the bacchanalia scene. It was certainly weird and could be construed as out of context with the rest of the film, although I do think it fit. Still, I didn’t like it. I think my problem is that it was both too long and too repetitive.

Good Stuff:
I loved the concept, and was particularly entertained by the notion that the “start over with a new life” company was essentially a pyramid scheme, with the same kind of false promises.

Randolph and Hudson were both very good.

I enjoyed the exploration of a midlife crisis, and the related pursuit of finding meaning in one’s life.

The Verdict:
This is not an uplifting film. It’s pretty unrelentingly dark, and the ending is grim. However, I liked it. I didn’t know much about it going in - I decided not to read anything more than the brief IMDB synopsis - and I’d never heard of it before, so it was a rare moment of getting an almost completely pure take on a movie. While I found the beginning in particular slow, I soon warmed up to watching the story unfold. I don’t have many serious complaints about it. It’s a really good story told in an interesting way, with solid cinematography and great performances. It will give you something to think about, and I believe that’s the hallmark of a good sci fi film.

I give it 4 stars.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #73: "The American Astronaut" (2001)

Movie Stats:
Released 2001 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Cory McAbee
Stars - Cory McAbee, Rocco Sisto, Gregory Russell Cook

Plot Summary:
It’s a space western musical in which trader Samuel Curtis (McAbee) sets out on a mission that will earn him a big payday. Sisto co-stars as Professor Hess, Curtis’s frenemy who’s on his tail, and Cook as The Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast (yes really), who’s part of Curtis’s get-rich scheme.

Minor violence; blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s utterly absurd. Whether or not you find that entertaining is entirely subjective.

Character development is poor. It’s a movie full of caricatures rather than a movie full of people.

It sort of feels like what would happen if a bunch of guys who’ve known each other a really long time got together and made a film. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we did XYZ?” “Haha, totally, man, write that down!” In the vein of, say, “Pineapple Express,” only more ridiculous.

Good Stuff:
I really liked the visual effects and cinematography. It’s clear that they didn’t have much money, but they found inventive ways around it so that in the end it looks cool rather than cheap.

It’s funny. I can’t really explain how it’s funny. There were times when I was laughing and I had no idea why. Some of it was just so wacky (like the “Hey boy!” scene in the bathroom) that all I could do was laugh.

It made me uncomfortable in the best sort of way.

The Verdict:
I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but I loved this film. I was skeptical until the opening credits began to roll. Then, as I laughed through the sequence, I knew everything was going to be okay. It’s certainly a very strange movie. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t like it at all. Personally, I found it compelling. One of the rare times that something was really weird without being off-putting. In fact, I was so intent on it that I didn’t hear a timer go off in the next room! My pizza spent an extra five minutes in the oven (it turned out browner than I like but still edible). I really wish someone else I know would watch this so I could hear what they think about it.

I give it 4.25 stars.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Out and About: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I've wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since I first heard of it, but decided to wait for cooler weather. Recently, some friends were in town and wanted to go as well. We lucked out: it was a cool, mostly cloudy day. And since it was the off-season, it was blissfully quiet.

Located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road in Escondido, the safari park is part of the San Diego Zoo system. A one-day adult pass costs $50 (parking is $12; there are a couple of electric charging stations). It includes access to all the walking areas of the park plus the tram through the African safari. There are other "safaris" you can pay extra for, such as a zip line safari, a balloon safari, and many more. My friends and I chose the one-day pass.

The park is enormous. I highly recommend you plan to spend your day there. We arrived about an hour after opening and stayed nearly until close. We did every walking section except for the World Garden, plus the Africa tram, but we only achieved that without stopping for food (my friends wisely brought snacks). When you visit, you should wear comfortable walking shoes, dress appropriately for the weather, and wear sunscreen & a hat.

We saw lots and lots of animals. Here are some of the pictures I took.

This one is pretty dark. There are at least three birds in it, and while I can't remember what they're called - laughing something; thrush maybe - I wanted to include it because they were SO noisy & it did sound like they were laughing.

Loved the colors on this bird but don't remember what it was called either.

The park had several of these trees with pretty pink blossoms. Notice the park map in the lower right corner of the picture.

Beautiful scenery in Escondido. It was so peaceful there. I loved it.

I love to take pictures of warning signs. I thought this one was a little poorly drawn. "No Cheetos for Eels" became our motto for the rest of the day.

Some animals.

The tigers were very vocal. The one nearest the camera is
the mom; the rest are her cubs.

Flamingos. They were cranky.

The silverback of the gorillas waiting for his lunch.

Lorikeet staring me down.

Bats chillin'.

The bats seemed to enjoy hanging from the air vents to
catch the breeze.

Elephants chowing down.

Lazy male lion.

The "prey" animals. This is the area our safari traversed.

Vultures. One of my favorite animals.

Rhinoceros. This one looked like it had a black eye.

This water area in the African Outpost was magical. That's the balloon safari in the background of the first picture.

On our way back through the lion area, a lady lion had come to perch near the glass. Being this closer to her, even with glass between us, was nerve-wracking. Her paws were as big as my head. Definitely not anything you'd want to stumble across in the wild. I wish my pictures weren't so dark but I did what I could. By the way, like the tigers, the lions were very vocal.

The balloon safari peeking out from behind a pole.

A male cheetah eyes me up after the cheetah run. You could pay extra to get up close to the cheetah after the run. I wish we'd done it, although it wasn't clear from the sign we saw what you got for the extra money.

Another view of the scenery after the sun came out.

This little fox, who we saw at the end of the day, accurately sums up how I was feeling.

I loved the safari park. It was a great experience. You should definitely visit the next time you're in the San Diego area. I know I'll be going back.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #74: "Flash Gordon" (1980)

Movie Stats:
Released 1980 (USA)
American & British, in English
Director - Mike Hodges
Stars - Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Haim Topol, Max von Sydow

Plot Summary:
Football star Flash Gordon (Jones) and his new gal pal Dale Arden (Anderson) are pulled by scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) into a fight to save Earth. Von Sydow plays Emperor Ming, the bad guy they’re fighting.

Violence; minor gore; very, very minor blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s extremely cheesy. For example, in one early scene, Flash is trying to fight bad guys but is really bad at it until someone hands him something shaped like a football and then he kicks ass. I mean, come on.

More and more, I’m beginning to wish that action movies would stop shoehorning in love stories. It’s simply not believable. It’s also not interesting or necessary. I could not care less if Flash and Dale end up together. (I assume they’re together in the comic book but they didn’t have to try to cram it into the movie.)

A lot of the special effects have not aged well.

Good Stuff:
It’s got some great actors. I especially enjoyed the performances of Brian Blessed, as bird man Prince Vultan, and Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin.

Frankly, it’s far more coherent than I was expecting. The plot is fairly simple, but I like that. I like that Ming’s motivations are uncomplicated. Why destroy Earth? Because it amuses him. I enjoy pure evil villains.

It’s fun and it has a good heart. I like Flash’s can-do attitude.

The Verdict:
I was not looking forward to this one and I can’t say that I expected it to be any good. A cinematic masterpiece it definitely is not, but I’ve seen worse films. Yes, a lot of it is incredibly cheesy, and the romantic storylines made me roll my eyes, and the special effects are frequently lacking. However, I liked its positive spirit, the costuming & set design, and that it went big. You can tell it was a big-budget film (IMDB estimates 20 mill, which is about 61.5 mill in today’s dollars). It’s not a film I’m going to watch more than once, but I’m glad I ticked it off the “never seen” list.

I give it 3 stars.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #75: "Return of the Jedi" (1983)

Movie Stats:
Released 1983 (USA)
American, in English (a bunch of made-up alien languages, some translated and some not)
Director - Richard Marquand
Stars - Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and many others

Plot Summary:
In the third installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, our Rebel heroes make the final push to defeat their evil Imperial foes. Hamill stars as Luke Skywalker; Fisher as Princess Leia; and Ford as Han Solo.

Violence; very minor gore.

Bad Stuff:
It’s definitely the goofiest of the original trilogy. I prefer my Star Wars on the serious side.

I think it’s a cop-out that the end objective of this film is that same end objective as “A New Hope” (and, let’s be honest, also the same end objective as the newest film, “The Force Awakens”).

On the one hand, it feels a little unfair to complain about this, but since the original versions of the movies are basically no longer available, I think it’s allowed. I absolutely hate that Lucas added scenes/effects to these films in the 1990s and now insists that they must only be released in this form. The added visual effects look terrible. They’re easily identifiable. Just look for the bad CGI. However, the worst of these additions is the “NOOOOO!” It ruined a scene where David Prowse (the actor who portrayed Darth Vader; James Earl Jones only did the voice) managed to perfectly convey what his character was thinking/feeling using only his body language.

Good Stuff:
The actors have such great chemistry. They really seem very fond of one another.

Great pacing.

If you ignore the bad tacked-on CGI, the visual effects are actually quite impressive. Most of it still looks good. I particularly enjoy the light saber battle. Also, the film is pretty to look at.

The Verdict:
First, a story. My mom didn’t approve of modern movies. She thought they were trash. So I didn’t go out to the theater much when I was a kid. “Jedi” is one of the few films I saw in the theater as a child. I always assumed that my brothers begged her to take us but when I told her that many years later, she said that it was me who pestered her into going. I can only imagine that everyone else in school had seen it and I didn’t want to be left out. Funny thing is, at that point, I hadn’t seen the other two (I recall watching an edited-for-TV version of “Empire” several years later; I can’t recall when I first saw “Hope”).

At any rate, I remember liking this when I was eight and I’ve seen it several times since then. I do like all of the original trilogy. I would say that “Hope” is my least favorite, “Jedi” is in the middle, and “Empire” is on top. While I’m of the opinion (also stated in my review of “Hope”) that these films are a little weak in general - or at the very least they’re not the grand masterpieces they’re often made out to be - I also think that they’re both important to and influential of the genre. Additionally, they’re immensely enjoyable. If you’ve somehow never seen the original trilogy, you should rectify that.

I give it 3.75 stars.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Woodland Enchantress Cross Stitch, Progress Report 2

Back in July, I did a post about my latest cross stitch project. Believe it or not, since it's been nearly 3 months, it's time for an update! First, let's start with a couple of reminders.

Here is what it's going to look like (in theory) when I'm finished:

Here's what it looked like at the time of my last post:

And now, here's what it currently looks like:

This represents 20.25 hours of work, spread out over 10 days. I didn't keep track of this, but I think those 10 days were fairly evenly split between working at my fiber arts group and working alone. I try to get to the project at least once week, although clearly I haven't achieved that yet.

I can't decide if it looks like I've made a lot of progress or not. You tell me!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #76: "The Truman Show" (1998)

Movie Stats:
Released 1998 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Peter Weir
Stars - Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich

Plot Summary:
Unbeknownst to him, Truman Burbank (Carrey) has spent his whole life as the subject of a TV show that runs 24/7. Slowly, he begins to suspect that something is off about his world. Harris co-stars as Christof, the creator of the TV show; Linney as Meryl, the actress who portrays Truman’s wife; and Emmerich as Marlon, the actor who portrays Truman’s best friend.

Very minor violence; minor blue language; brief male child nudity (butt only).

Bad Stuff:
I find it a little too convenient that all these things go wrong at once (a falling set light, a malfunctioning rain spigot, etc.) in order to finally give Truman an inkling, after 20-odd years, that things aren’t as they seem.

The “romance” between Truman and Sylvia (Natascha McElhone) is ridiculously contrived.

At one point, Christof announces that he’s going to show the first consummation on live TV, by which I assume he means sex, which implies that Truman is a virgin. On the one hand, I don’t find it particularly believable that a married man in his 20s has never had sex. On the other hand, if he was having sex, that would mean that tens of millions of people would be watching this man get raped repeatedly. Ugh. Since the movie is PG, I think it would have been better not bring up the sex topic at all.

Good Stuff:
I love how deliciously f-ed up it is. The idea that they would take this man from birth and lie to and manipulate him his whole life is incredibly disturbing (especially the stuff related to his father). I always thought this was a feel-good movie, so I was pleasantly surprised by how dark it is.

The acting is really good. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Carrey, Harris, and Emmerich.

I think it’s a nice exploration of human behavior.  I don’t want to write an essay here, so I guess I’ll just say that there was a lot of complexity in the characterization of the “extras” in Truman’s life.

The Verdict:
Well, I think calling this “sci fi” is an extreme stretch, but it’s still very enjoyable. It addresses quite a few serious topics both directly (i.e. lying to and manipulating people for profit) and obliquely (i.e. how people often feel like they’re missing out on something in life). I really didn’t expect it to be so deep. I thought it would trend more on the “Jim Carrey over-the-top goofy” side. While there is some of that, there’s more of his “Eternal Sunshine” side. Solid cast and acting, with a satisfyingly open ending. All in all, an excellent film.

I give it 4.25 stars.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #77: "Avatar" (2009)

Movie Stats:
Released 2009 (UK)
American & British, in English (lots of a made-up alien language, some of it translated, some of it not; IMDB claims there was Spanish but I don’t recall hearing any)
Director - James Cameron
Stars - Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Plot Summary:
After the sudden death of his brother, soldier Jake Sully (Worthington) is tapped to take his position on a scientific team that’s trying to make diplomatic contact with an alien race on the planet Pandora. The problem? An Earthling corporation wants to take over Pandora in order to mine a rare ore. Weaver co-stars as  Dr. Grace Augustine, the leader of the scientific team, and Saldana as Neytiri, an alien woman with whom Jake connects.

Violence; minor gore; blue language; implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism about it leaning too far on the “white man saves hapless indigenous peoples” side. I think that criticism is fair.

In a similar vein, I wonder if indigenous people ever grow weary of being portrayed as one dimensional mystics with pure hearts. I know I’m pretty sick of this characterization.

And on that note, I thought all of the characters in general were fairly one-note.

Good Stuff:
Cameron (who also wrote the screenplay) did an excellent job of world building. The Na’vi culture was surprisingly rich and layered. I especially liked all the stuff about how they connected to the planet/that the planet was basically one giant brain.

I really liked the idea of the avatar program. It felt fresh and original.

It’s very pretty to look at.

The Verdict:
I avoided this movie for 7 years because I thought I would hate it. I never found the story particularly compelling; it seemed like a story that’s already been told multiple times with varying success (i.e. “Dances with Wolves, “Fern Gully,” etc.). I’d never even read much critique of it, except for that mentioned above, so there were a lot of surprises in store. For example, I didn’t know that Jake was paraplegic (it’s nearly the first thing the movie shows so I don’t consider it a spoiler). For me, that added a layer to the story. I also didn’t know how the avatar program worked. It was a lot cooler than I expected. And I didn’t know there’d be so much world building, which I think is the best part of the movie. They could’ve taken out the “evil corporation trying to take over” plot line and I might have enjoyed it even more. As it was, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

I give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Up with Geography: China

Country Name:




Asian continent. China outlined in dark ink & shaded.

A close-up of China & its neighbors. I think my placement
of the Yellow River is faulty.

Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan

Water Borders:
Yellow Sea, East China Sea, South China Sea

Total Area:
3,705,407 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen

Famous Geographical Point:
Yellow River

Famous Person:
Ip Man, Wing Chun master (teacher of Bruce Lee and many others)

I chose him in honor of my husband, who loves the Ip Man movies.

Book Set In/About:
Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Set during the 1940s, a young divorcee, shunned by her family, potentially finds love again. Told through a series of short stories and novellas, the tale closely resembles Chang's own life.

Movie Set In/About:
"Huo zhe (To Live)" (1994), directed by Yimou Zhang

A wealthy couple lose their fortune and struggle to survive/raise a family through decades of massive cultural upheaval. It's a great portrayal of both pre- and post-Cultural Revolution China. I chose this film because I love it. You Ge, who plays the male lead, gives a performance that the mere memory of can tear at my heartstrings.

Headline of the Day:
"Why China Really Thinks It Owns the South China Sea" on

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #78: "World on a Wire" (1973)

Movie Stats:
Released 1973 (West Germany)
West German, in German (watched with English subtitles; there is a tiny amount of English in it)
Director - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars - Klaus Loewitsch, Mascha Rabben, Karl Heinz Vosgerau

Plot Summary:
After the mysterious death of his predecessor, Fred Stiller (Loewitsch) is promoted into his position, in charge of a computer simulation program. Soon, strange things begin to happen. Vosgerau co-stars as Herbert Siskins, the CEO of the computer company, and Rabben as Eva Vollmer, the daughter of Stiller’s predecessor.

Violence; minor gore; minor blue language; implied sexy times; female nudity (extensive breasts, some butt, very brief hoo-ha).

Bad Stuff:
It’s too long (3.5 hours).

It’s really weird.

As usual, I didn’t care for all of the experimental camera angles.

The writing was not good. It felt very juvenile to me, just the way that people behaved and the way they spoke to one another. Also, there were a lot of inconsistencies. For example, Stiller calls Eva and asks her to pick him up at six. Then he goes out with someone else. Is it a different day or is Eva sitting there at six, wondering where he is? Or, Stiller leaves his car at Eva’s while on the run from the police, goes and does a bunch of stuff over an indeterminate amount of time (including going to a cabaret idk why) and then goes to a parking garage and his car is there. What? How did it get there? And so on.

Good Stuff:
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I liked the idea of it. It was a mind-bend, the layers on top of layers. I wonder if it informed both “The Matrix” and “Inception.”

It has a great feeling of menace and unease throughout. You never quite feel comfortable.

I enjoyed Vosgerau’s performance. He played an excellently charming psychopath.

The Verdict:
I didn’t care for it. It’s desperately in need of better editing. There’s so much in it that doesn’t add to the film and therefore doesn’t need to be there. Also, the poor writing was disappointing. It kept drawing me out of the story as I noticed the inconsistencies and puzzled over them. Most of the acting was passable, with a standout or two. I think what’s key about it, what earns it a place on this list, is the basic story, which seems to have informed several popular stories to come.

I give it 2.5 stars.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #79: "Ghost in the Shell" (1995)

Movie Stats:
Released 1995 (Japan)
Japanese, in Japanese (the version I saw was dubbed into English)
Director - Mamoru Oshii
Stars - Mimi Woods, Richard Epcar, Tom Wyner

Plot Summary:
In a future where most humans have cybernetic enhancements, a terrorist called the Puppet Master (Wyner) is hacking into people’s bodies. Major Motoko Kusanaki (Woods), part of a top secret police department, is assigned to the case. Epcar provides the voice of Batou, one of Motoko’s co-workers.

Extensive full female nudity (the pelvic region isn’t anatomically correct but the breasts and buttocks are); blue language; violence; gore.

Bad Stuff:
Woods’s performance was quite stilted, more like reading than acting.

For a significant portion of the film, I had no idea what was happening.

I had the hardest time putting my finger on why, but I didn’t care for the dialogue. A lot of the time, it felt like clunky exposition, rather than feeling like the way people actually talk to one another. Of course, I have no way of knowing if it’s that way in the original language.

Good Stuff:
It has so many cool ideas. I really enjoyed the stuff about cybernetics and hacking into people. The scene with the fully human person whose brain was hacked, deleting his real memories and giving him false memories that he will never forget, was surprisingly emotional for me.

The action sequences are awesome and well animated.

I loved the ending. It was so true to the movie and to Japanese anime culture.

The Verdict:
This was a difficult review for me to write. I’m not a big fan of Japanese anime. A lot of it goes right over my head. But I tried to go into this with an open mind because I thought the concept sounded cool. I was right; the concept is very cool. While I didn’t love the film, I liked it in the end*, although I wasn’t entirely sure why. I’m still not. There’s something about it that’s very compelling. I really wish that I hadn’t seen the dubbed version. (I got the DVD from Netflix and this is the version they sent me.) I feel like it would be better in the original language with subtitles. I suspect that a lot of the dialogue was lost in translation and I hope that the Japanese voice actors were better than the English-speaking ones. That being said, it definitely deserves a place on this list.

I give it 3.75 stars.

*I liked it well enough to be concerned/mildly annoyed that they’re doing a live action remake, due to come out in 2017. Although Michael Wincott is in it, so it has that going for it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Up with U.S. Geography: North Carolina

State Name:
North Carolina


Date of Entry:
November 21, 1789


Map of USA. North Carolina outlined in dark ink,
shaded & with name written on it.

A close-up of North Carolina & its neighbors.

Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee

Water Borders:
Pamlico Sound, Atlantic Ocean

Total Area:
53,819 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem

Famous Geographical Point:
Cape Fear

State Nickname:
The Tar Heel State. Origin unclear, although it's widely assumed that the nickname comes from North Carolina's long history as a producer of naval supplies, which include tar.

Famous Person:
Andy Griffith, actor, producer, writer & gospel singer

Book Set In/About:**
Here We Are in Paradise by Tony Earley

A collection of short stories about life in North Carolina in the 20th century.

Movie Set In/About:
"Bull Durham" (1988), directed by Ron Shelton

A romantic comedy about a minor league baseball team in Durham, North Carolina. I love this movie. I've always felt that Kevin Costner gives his finest performances in movies about baseball.

Headline of the Day:
"Evacuations Ordered: Could Hurricane Matthew Impact North Carolina?" on

Would be interesting to revisit in a week to see if it did, in fact, impact North Carolina.

**Holy crap, Nicholas Sparks is prolific and all his books are set in North Carolina. Sorry, fans, none of his stories are going to darken my blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #80: "Star Trek" (2009)

Movie Stats:
Released 2009 (USA)
American & German, in English
Director - J.J. Abrams
Stars - Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and many more

Plot Summary:
In a reboot of the 1960s television series of the same name, meet the crew of the Federation starship USS Enterprise as they come together for their first mission. Pine stars as James T. Kirk, Quinto as Spock, and Saldana as Nyota Uhura.

Lots of violence; gore; minor blue language; heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
It relies too heavily on coincidence. [SPOILERS] For example, the ship’s doctor is killed during the Enterprise’s first brush with the Romulans, paving the way for Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) to immediately be promoted. Or, Kirk just happens to be marooned on the same planet as Future Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg), who respectively have the information & skills he needs. [SPOILERS] It’s all a bit too convenient.

I have some serious questions about the plot. [SPOILERS] Such as: if Future Romulus is under threat from a supernova, why wouldn’t they - to be on the safe side - evacuate the planet instead of saying, “oh, ok, cool” when Future Spock said he could save them? Also, WTF is red matter? It’s never explained. [SPOILERS]

I could see how it wouldn’t have as big of an impact for someone who wasn’t a fan of the show. Half the joy of it is in the callbacks to the original characters/actors.

Good Stuff:
It’s so much fun! The pace is good - pretty much full throttle from start to finish. There’s no time to get bored. There’s tons of action. And the aforementioned callbacks are delightful. When I saw this in the theater, the whole audience dissolved into laughter at Pavel Chekov’s (Anton Yelchin) introduction, when he said, “Wiktor. Wiktor.” Those callbacks are sprinkled throughout.

The casting is fantastic. Spot on. Personal favorite performances are Saldana, Quinto, Urban, and Yelchin. Urban in particular knocks it out of the park in terms of facial expressions, delivery, and mannerisms. I feel like he really studied the old footage of DeForest Kelley (the original “Bones”).

Love the soundtrack.

Great special effects.

The Verdict:
Honestly, I have a lot of problems with the movie, but I can’t seem to make myself care about them. I don’t exactly watch action movies for their flawless plots. I watch them for the entertainment value, and this one certainly has it in spades. It’s a thrill ride all the way through, and I love the homage it pays to the original series. It feels like a loving tribute. I liked it when I saw it in the theater, and I’ve liked it every time I’ve seen it since then.

I give it 4 stars.