Don't be cranky, Dann
Dear Dann: Having just seen "Star Trek Into Darkness," I can hardly believe you only gave it two stars. While giving "Fast and Furious 6" two and a half stars? Seriously? You are clearly not a Trekker.
The movie was fantastic. Exciting. Touching. Even funny at the right times. You need to realize that when a series is rebooted with new actors inhabiting well-established, even beloved characters, there are certain parameters that they and screenwriters have to follow.
Do you expect Kirk, Spock, Bones and Scotty not to act like the characters we know them to be? That is never going to happen. This story was an interesting twist to the "Wrath of Khan" with a role-reversal situation that was touching.
Why are the stars doing the "grunt work"? Because nobody wants to watch a bunch of no-name "red shirts" doing the action. Think, McFly! (How about that for a movie tie-in?) It also shows what we already knew about Jim Kirk: the Prime Directive is not more important than the life of his friend.
In your review you come across as more than a little cranky. Always have a good breakfast before you review a movie, Danno. -- Brian E. Skol
Dear Brian: I will take you up on the good breakfast advice, but I doubt that a fuller tummy and a sunnier disposition would have significantly altered my assessment of "Into Darkness."
Today's sci-fi fans are more sophisticated than back in the 1960s when NBC's original TV series introduced us to the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise. Now, dispatching Star Fleet's most valuable leaders on routine red-shirt errands doesn't ring authentic or true.
"Into Darkness" mimics the events and characters from "Wrath of Khan," but it fails to capture the earlier movie's dramatic essence: the battle of wills and intellects between the two formidable foes of Kirk and Khan.
"Wrath" was a contest of wits and chutzpah.
"Darkness" is a series of overproduced action set pieces strung together by references to Nicholas Meyer's smart and engaging 1982 sequel, the best of all the "Star Trek" motion pictures so far. (A special shout-out to James Horner for creating a nautical score that turns "Wrath" into a classic adventure set upon the high seas of space.)
As for the slightly higher star rating awarded to "Fast & Furious 6," you need to keep in mind Goethe's Three Questions of Arts Criticism:
1) What did the artist attempt to achieve? 2) How successful was the artist in achieving it? 3) Was what the artist attempted to achieve worth attempting in the first place?
"Fast & Furious 6" achieved its goal of being an outrageously entertaining live-action cartoon without the slightest pretense of being a work of intelligence and thoughtfulness.
"Into Darkness" did not succeed at being a worthy sequel to J.J. Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" reboot. That's the half-star difference in the two movies' ratings.
Plus, neither "Into Darkness" nor "Fast & Furious" earned a spot in my Picks section, so I'm not actually recommending either one.
This may not be a wholly satisfactory explanation of my "Into Darkness" review, Brian, but admittedly, I did skip breakfast this morning. -- Dann
Dann gets crankier
I received a review DVD for the new Cronenberg-eqsue, body-alteration horror film "American Mary" opening this weekend at Chicago's Facets Multimedia. But I declined to review it because it came with the words "Property of Industry Films" emblazoned across the screen for the entire running time.
Call me cranky, but when a filmmaker's work has been altered visually or aurally from its original version, it's no longer the same movie the public will see. Therefore it would be unethical for a critic to review the altered form as if it were the same as the original.
That's why we used an Associated Press review of "What Maisie Knew" in last week's Time out! I had seen a screener marred with my name, the date and a running clock plastered over the movie.
I do understand this practice is done to thwart piracy. It also thwarts experiencing the movie as the filmmakers intended. Plus, to be blunt, it demonstrates "acceptable" disrespect for the cinematic art form.
And I will not be a party to that.
• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!