Karl Urban

Mortal Kombat 2: Karl Urban Shows Off BTS Look
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Mortal Kombat 2: Karl Urban Shows Off BTS Look

Following the end of the strikes, Mortal Kombat 2 is now filming, and Karl Urban shows off a behind-the-scenes look at the cast on social media. “We’re back baby!” posted the actor who is playing Johnny Cage on Instagram where it looks as if he has blond hair/highlights. The photo also features Ludi Lin who

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‘The Boys’ Season 3 Releases Red Band Trailer

Amazon Prime Video has released The Boys Season 3 Red Band trailer, which is a mature adult version of the trailer. Watch on below or on YouTube. “This is The Boys Season 3 Official Teaser Trailer, featuring the new single ‘Bones’ by Imagine Dragons. Rated D for DIABOLICAL. Season 3 arrives June 3rd, only on

TV News

‘The Boys’ Getting ‘Diabolical’ Animated Spinoff

The Butcher himself, Karl Urban, announces a new animated spinoff with The Boys: Diabolical, a new eight-episode animated anthology series set in the universe of The Boys coming to Amazon Prime. Urban announced the news during Brazil’s CCXP in the video below. “There is no question that you guys are the greatest fans in the world.

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Riddick (2013)

Remixing History

A Film review of Riddick

By: Lawrence Napoli



Anyone familiar with the Riddick Trilogy could have easily seen the trailers for this most recent installment and said, “Hey, I think I’ve seen that before,” and they would be absolutely correct. It seems as if the formula for this excruciatingly rigid character can find no wiggle room outside of stories strictly about being hunted by mercs. What I find most distasteful is the fact that Riddick returns to his roots with an almost exact, bullet point for bullet point, plot recreation of Pitch Black. Of course, this isn’t much of a big deal for those showing up late to the Riddick party, and I can completely understand seeing how these films never seemed to reach an audience outside a cult following. The fans, on the other hand, will be somewhat disappointed because despite the charisma of the character, the story is completely recycled and appears to be going nowhere fast.

Riddick is a film that had no business being made in the first place seeing how Universal and Vin Diesel had abandoned the franchise after the abysmal performance of The Chronicles of Riddick back in 2004 when that film’s global take at the box office was only $10 million dollars more than its production budget of $105 million. According to the Riddick Wiki page, Diesel and filmmaker David Twohy secured the rights to produce a sequel that promised to return to the basics, which in turn got Universal interested in distributing it. In order to finance this production’s near $40 million dollar budget, Diesel leveraged his own house, and what followed was a series of financial setbacks that sandbagged the whole production. Despite these clear red flags, the production managed to pull through and land in the can, and I have much respect for all the crew, production staff and cast that made the film a reality. But an “A for effort” does not a film worthy of your hard-earned dollars make, especially when the story was supposedly going to bigger and more interesting places. “Due to private funding and a limited budget, the ‘Underverse’ plot could not be continued.”

Clearly, the real world of dollars and cents encroached heavily on this page of Hollywood history, but when big bucks, bigger names and the best effects cannot be relied upon to deliver the spectacle; writing is the only gun you have left in the cabinet. Unfortunately for Riddick, this tale is shooting blanks. I completely understand looking to a franchise’s original film for inspiration in troubled times during a follow-up, but carbon copying the basics of that story is inexcusable. If writer/director David Twohy was so starved for creativity thanks to his distracting production woes and multiple responsibilities, he should have considered shamelessly rebooting the Furyan all together, and why not? Reboots are in. As it stands, the story picks up all but immediately where we left Riddick as the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, the most powerful force in the galaxy. So naturally, we spend 5 minutes of Riddick taking all of that away from him and stranding old shiny eyes on yet another god forbidden planet. Insert the plot of Pitch Black here (mercs show up, precise killing, creepy crawlies target everyone, an uneasy alliance occurs, retrieving a ship’s power source to escape), and that’s Riddick in a nutshell. I couldn’t tell if the revisited story was more annoying than the awkward cursing by everyone that seemed too forced to overemphasize everyone’s status as a bad ass or the ever bland one-liners by Riddick himself whose quotes easily devolve to vintage Stallone/Schwarzenegger. I understand that certain conventions are inevitable in sci-fi/action films, but that wasn’t what made this franchise (and this character) unique in the first place. Playing around with themes of light vs. dark both literally and contextually through character, rooting for the supposed bad guy and a shoestring budget yielding a big picture look are all things that made Pitch Black unique. There’s nothing unique about Riddick.

I will give the production staff a lot of credit for making this film at least look the part of a big time Hollywood production. Detailed creature CG is sporadic, but very functional in wider angles. Gunplay is standard issue, but not particularly intense. Landscapes are bright, but rudimentary. Costumes are necessarily minimal and vehicles are easily the most impressive in how they move amidst the backdrops they are framed within. I am absolutely certain that Vin Diesel’s home is safe, and an opening weekend just under $19 million is certainly a step in the right direction. However, if the true purpose of this production was to transform this franchise into a more cost effective carrot to dangle in front of studios for future film development, the audience needs more than a good looking movie to spread that word of mouth like wildfire. $40 million dollars can only get you so far, but higher stakes, rounder characters and a unique plot would’ve brought more butts to the theatres.

Riddick is not a film that contains what anyone would refer to as a marquee performance by anyone, but considering its production woes, getting “average” out of anyone could be considered a major victory. Gone is the charm from the likes of Keith David and Judi Dench, and as nice as it was to see Karl Urban again as Vaako, his cameo is merely five minutes of interesting (and far too brief) exposition that connects this film to the last. The cast is basically a collection of tough guys and gals that are physical, intimidating and as flat as your kitchen table. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but plenty of action films in the past have had similar requirements of their casts and a number of them proved capable of doing more with less, performance-wise. This is Vin Diesel’s baby, and as much as I appreciate his efforts as a labor of love, he’s still Dominic Toretto with glowing eyes. Jason Statham plays Jason Statham like Michael Cera plays Michael Cera and so too is the same with Diesel. He’s a tough guy without the most staccato of line deliveries. He gives you everything you could possibly expect of him in Riddick.

I actually enjoyed Pitch Black and much of that was thanks to Diesel’s performance as Riddick. He cares about his character and he cares about these stories, and that is something that you just don’t see with most Hollywood productions (especially the big-budget-effect ones). Unfortunately, Riddick is simply not good enough to recommend to anyone paying any price for a general admission. This is a Netflix/On Demand situation all day long, and for all the money and effort that went into making this film, I can’t help but think it could have been more if the filmmakers hadn’t simply gone to ground with the safest, plausible scenario they could think up to make this franchise profitable again. You’d think a smaller budget with less corporate ties and interfering influences would help foster more spontaneity and courage in regards to story and character, but this was not the case for this film. Oh conventionalism, you truly are a silent killer. The audience covets your familiarity, but your lasting impression involves the individual thinking about all the other things he or she could have been doing rather than subjecting themselves to something else they’ve probably seen many times before. My suggestion: Put your $10 towards GTA 5 which comes out in just over a week.

Movie News Reviews

Casting The Batman Reboot: The Dark Knight Then, Now and Beyond

Batman Then, Now and Beyond

By: Lawrence Napoli



Comic book adaptations continue to take the world by storm, and Hollywood’s desperate need to use “superheroes” as a crutch won’t see that trend ending anytime soon.  So we know (think) the Justice League adaptation is coming in an effort to mirror Marvel’s success with The Avengers, but no one seems to know how DC’s team of super folk ought to be adapted to the screen.  Does everyone get their own film to establish origins as well as a following?  Do we present the team first?  Oh, and what do we do about Batman?  Yes ladies and gentlemen, that last question is the one that’s truly plaguing the executive brass over at Warner Bros., and DC because Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy remains too familiar within the social consciousness of the present and a depiction of that character (DC’s most valuable license) that isn’t as proficient will directly translate to millions (if not billions) in lost profit all over the world.  

I’ve never liked the concept of “rebooting” and I never will, but that’s not to say some efforts have been made in good faith to really deliver some marquee entertainment that attempts to show an audience something we haven’t quite seen before.  Nolan’s trilogy is a perfect example of this, but if Justice League is to happen then Batman not only needs a new face to fill out the cowl, but he needs someone who will be as dedicated to the role as Henry Cavill is apparently for Superman, as Robert Downey Jr. is for Iron Man, and as Christian Bale was for Batman before.  If Justice League was truly a project attempting to carbon copy The Avengers, this production should have considered recasting Bale as Batman to maintain some viewer familiarity with that role as Downey Jr. has for Tony Stark.  Not everyone saw the Captain America, Incredible Hulk and Thor films, but most saw the Iron Man trilogy thanks mostly to the performance of the title role.  Bale’s presence could pay similar dividends for JL, but Bale has solidified his Hollywood legacy, he’s won his Oscar and made tons of money; he’s going to take a break now. 

So, what is the corporate conglomerate to do?  Audiences liked Cavill enough through strong showings for Man of Steel at the box office so Superman is set.  Everyone hated Green Lantern (and rightly so), but can JL afford recasting another emerald warrior in the form of a brand new Hal Jordon or swapping him out for Alan Scott, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner or (ugh!) Guy Gardner?  That character is a toss-up.  How about a CG Martian Manhunter?  Possibly.  Is Wonder Woman simply inconceivable to cast due to the need to make her as physically dominant, yet sexy, attractive and somewhat cute at the same time?  Perhaps.  Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman: does anyone even care about these guys?  Maybe not.  The point is that The League isn’t particularly stable, so the two pillars of this fictional franchise have got to work well (butting heads) onscreen.  Whoever is given the power to choose the next Batman better not miss.  

That being said, we will discuss some possibilities for actors who could potentially do the role (ahem) justice, but before we do, let’s glance at some of Batman’s past renditions to see if we can extract the elements of a performance that are vital to bringing this character back to life for Justice League and beyond.

Adam West


What worked:  He helped bring Batman to the mainstream in the late 60s with a very family friendly performance that employed a decent amount of action for television shows produced at that time.  The show kept fresh by employing a number of his iconic rogue’s gallery for several episodes.  Heck, they even all teamed up against him; Legion of Doom style and Mayor Adam West confronted them with as much dignity as he could muster.

What didn’t:  It’s obvious isn’t it?  It was campy and it was foolish, and West had no choice but to play it that way.  Seriously?  Shark repellent Bat spray???  West is only partially to blame as the man was simply following direction and reading off the script, but his smarmy chuckles, warm smile and Little House on the Prairie interpretation of fathering Robin is far off the beaten trail for this character.

What to keep:  Despite the dated nature of this material, West showed that you can generate interest and an audience through shear charisma and the man certainly had that in spades for his Batman.  A suave demeanor and face is the shortest route to an audience’s heart, so the next Batman must have this kind of likability because his clashing with Superman over JL decisions (as well as his personal brand of “justice”) might lead an audience to view him as a villain.  

George Clooney/Val Kilmer


What worked:  I count both men as the same because the only real positive impact they had on this character is the fact that A-list recognition will bring the masses to the box office; completely independent of the story, production value and quality of the performances.  It is the primary reason why “stars” fuel Hollywood’s engine in the first place.

What didn’t:  There’s almost too much to mention here, but let’s try anyway!  Joel Schumacher, anatomically correct rubber suits, dumb stories and stylized settings are only a few reasons why Batman Forever and Batman and Robin ought to remain in the Dark Knight’s closet.  However, the number one, unforgivable offense for both of these actors is that neither truly bought in to this character to give it the seriousness it deserved.  They treated these movies as only paycheck films and it showed onscreen.

What to keep:  Before Robert Downey Jr.’s career took a hiatus thanks to substance abuse and rehab, he was already established, A-list talent that every media entity dubbed as one of the “next big things in Hollywood.”  Of course, blow can derail anyone’s career, but he came back with a vengeance thanks to the Iron Man franchise, and he did it by fully investing in his character and it produced a performance that will forever be linked to this man’s legacy.  Sure, Christopher Reeve did this as an unknown for Richard Donner’s Superman, but odds are that A-list talent has a higher batting average to hit one out of the park in any role for audiences.

Michael Keaton


What worked:  Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 kick-started the contemporary love affair with and modern adaptations of comic book characters and stories.  It had a big production budget, bigger stars and encapsulated it all within a very dark, brooding and serious plot that brought the character closer to its roots than ever before.  Many were confounded with the casting of Keaton who was more established as a comic (ha-ha) actor at the time, but Burton witnessed this man’s ability when they worked together on Beetlejuice the year before.  Keaton yielded a performance that no one could have possibly predicted thanks to his Bruce Wayne persona that matched the trends of his past roles and a distinct Batman persona that was decidedly solemn, gruff and cold.  He also rarely flapped his lips in regards to anything while donning the cape.

What didn’t:  Hollywood is good at faking a lot of things.  It even made Michael Keaton look like he was some kind of martial arts master; well, kind of.  Keaton never has and never will be described as an action star, but the next Batman will always have the need to be depicted as very physical on the screen through stunt work and combat sequences.  It’s not necessarily that Keaton’s action didn’t work in ’89, but that it won’t work for Justice League moving forward.

What to keep:  Michael Keaton represents the antithesis of the two men who followed in this role.  When it comes to the nature of a performance, there’s clearly no equation to separate “successful” from “unsuccessful,” but this is why casting is a tricky art form in and of itself.  One makes a decision to fill out a role based on an actor’s history of work and the energy he or she brings to an audition.  Open-mindedness is the key lesson in appreciating Michael Keaton as Batman which applies to the casting of either established talent or a new face entirely.  I also would like to see the resume of whoever will be charged as the casting director for Justice League because if movies like the Star Wars prequels, Ghost Rider and Daredevil are credited to this person, we should all brace ourselves for JL.

Christian Bale


What worked:  He’s easily the most skilled actor to ever play this role and outside of his natural talent, has an entire history of completely selling out for just about every role he plays as evidenced by the extremes in physical conditioning he has subjected his body to over the years.  He made me fall in love with Batman again thanks to Christopher Nolan’s more realistic interpretation of the character.  He’s an Academy Award winning actor who kicks ass onscreen.  There really isn’t much of that going on in Hollywood; ever!

What didn’t:  Oh dear, Bale’s “Batman” voice was awful!  He stumbled on to it about halfway through Batman Begins and never let go for the rest of the trilogy.  I understand the need for the character to obscure his identity, but could we get the man a vocal coach for that?  “Swear to me!”  Sheesh!  It makes me cringe even now.

What to keep:  When push comes to shove, the actor must make the character his or her own.  It doesn’t take a great actor to yield a great performance, but it certainly takes a great effort to do so.  JL’s Batman will have some big shoes to fill, and that person had better not be intimidated in the least, otherwise the performance will suffer and sour the entire franchise.  Bale’s confidence as an actor is nigh unmatched, and while the next Batman doesn’t have to be as proficient, I’d like him to at least be on the same path as an accomplished actor.  Desire and dedication are absolute musts here.

Kevin Conroy


What worked:  What?  A voice-over actor you say?  What’s he doing here?  True Bat-Fans know this man as one of the most iconic voices for comic book characters next to his co-star Mark Hamill’s rendition of the Joker.  He’s voiced the Dark Knight in Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Arkham City and Asylum, DC Universe Online, and most of the direct-to-video DC animated features like the most recent Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.  The best voice-over actors are masters at manipulating their voice, and one of Conroy’s often overlooked skills was his distinct differentiation between Bruce Wayne’s voice and his alter ego’s.  His voice brings so much life to Batman that it would be remiss to disregard his contributions to the character and is easily one of the best portrayals of Batman ever.

What didn’t:  Animation is limiting due to the obvious nature of the medium, but in Conroy’s case, this is actually a benefit.  The man looks nothing like Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Voice-actors also have less say in the organic evolution of a performance as they are constantly being given direction over the headset in a sound booth.  An actor can only control so much when they are being told to “do it this way,” as opposed to live action where several actors over the years have clashed with their directors/producers over creative differences because their embodiment of their characters gave them more political power during production.

What to keep:  Never underestimate the importance of the voice.  Christian Bale’s weakness is Kevin Conroy’s strength, and the next Batman has got to own intimidation, the bass, the staccato and the diction.  No pressure.


That was the easy part.  Now comes what websites all over the globe love to get into and that is the theoretical casting call for who the next Batman could and possibly should be for the Justice League franchise on film.  It seems a daunting task because there really isn’t a clear cut choice in Hollywood, but that assumes no one in the current talent pool is capable of a quantum leap in ability and performance.  

Here are five suggestions in no particular order:

Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network)


Strengths:  I still can’t believe that this is his real name, but regardless, this actor has consistently been in the rumor mill for this role, and it’s pretty obvious for some reasons.  Besides the fact he’s 6’5”, 220 and there’s two of him, the man clearly has the right kind of body to step into the cape.  I felt that the dramatic acting he displayed in J. Edgar is proof enough that he has the ability to be as serious with a role as he wants to be.  His face is also attractive enough to sell billionaire, playboy Bruce Wayne without selling out as a stereotypical Hollywood boy toy that loses Bat-Fans everywhere.

Concerns:  The Lone Ranger tanked and he had Johnny Depp’s help.  This doesn’t bode well for his ability to aid in the helming of a franchise.  Taylor Kitsch knows exactly what I’m talking about, and this leads me to my primary concern for Armie.  How much would he really want this role?  I see desire as somewhat lacking in this actor because he’s already shown the ability to act in different genres, so who knows how much he would want to buy into a franchise that will monopolize his life for a number of years into the future.  Armie Hammer makes a lot of sense on paper for the next Batman, but I’m not sold on his ability to truly commit to this role.  Tonto knows what I’m talking about. 

Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood)


Strengths:  This gentleman will be the only member (ahem) of the cast of Magic Mike that should ever be seriously considered to be the next Batman due to the fact that his face, physicality, size, shape, voice and demeanor make him one of the few bodies out there that I could see standing toe to toe with Henry Cavill.  He has all the tools needed to thrive in this role, and he has demonstrated the acting ability to be intense for both action and drama.

Concerns:  But, can Joe pull said intensity inside to yield the wounded loner and solemn respectability?  Can he project intelligence, stratagem, leadership and experience?  Supposing Warner Bros. wants this type of Batman to contrast with Cavill’s youth and inexperience, I’m sure Joe is capable once he puts that costume on, but his repertoire is not quite on par with that of Christian Bale.  Limited experience and ability are the main concerns here.

Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek)


Strengths:  Karl has a much better gruff voice than Bale could ever possibly wish for, and he certainly has the acting chops to pull off this role.  His look is also right in line with both the Bruce Wayne and Batman personas.  He also has a very respectable history of work in these types of action and CG-heavy films that would make him that much more comfortable on set.  He owns the concept of deadpan intimidation.

Concerns:  Dredd was not a homerun for me, and that character is pretty close to what most Hollywood productions will make Batman look like.  Karl will also have to hit the gym to buff out a little because being tone might work for Star Fleet, but even Batman’s body armor needs a bit more.  I would love for Urban to use Hugh Jackman’s work out regiment, but that kind of commitment might be outside of this actor’s asking price.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Gamer)


Strengths:  This gentleman’s name has been tossed around the internet in connection with this topic for a while, and I didn’t quite see the connection at first, but the shear deviousness he demonstrates in Dexter proves he has more than enough “dark” for the Dark Knight.  He has also demonstrated the ability to project an ordered and scientific persona which relates to Batman quite well.  The overall acting ability is there for Michael to be the next Batman.

Concerns:  Michael has recently been undergoing treatment for Cancer and the disease is now in remission, but the physical requirements for this role may be too much of a burden for this actor.  Even a modest training regiment could be unreasonable and that instantly hurts his chances.  He also comes up a little short in the stature department as well as the look of his face.  No offense to him personally, but I’ll come right out and say it: his ears are just too damn big!  

Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town)


Strengths:  If I had to pick one man, right now, to be the next Batman, Jon is it.  He’s got the total package: the looks, the ability and the size.  He’s a little older than some of the other actors I’ve suggested here, but I’ve always felt Batman should be older than Superman because he’s always seemed to represent the voice of experience in the hero game when these two come together.  Jon has the ability to be in any kind of movie he wants which is stunning how his appearances continue to seem limited to me.  It could be he’s genuinely not interested in his offers or it could be AMC’s contractual situation has him chained in their basement.  Either way, if I was casting, the role would be his if he wanted it.  Who knows how to act like a suave debonair better than Don Draper?

Concerns:  As good of shape as he is in; the gym is the first stop for Mr. Hamm.  However, this is usually the case for just about any role in an action film and something to which I’m sure he’s accustomed.  Being well into his acting career might demonstrate a lacking desire and or energy to get involved in such a project, but that would be something for him to decide.  He’s also not had an opportunity to demonstrate physicality in terms of hand to hand fisticuffs in many of his projects, but good stunt choreography could address this.  


This is not the be all and end all to Batman’s possibilities, and the questions will only begin to be answered when the cast for the Batman/Superman movie is announced.  We can all hope that “the right decision” is made, but whoever gets tapped will only begin their challenging journey because the proof will be in the final product.  For better or worse, this decision will be binding for Warner Bros. who could ill afforded a series of recasting in this iconic role which would be interpreted by the viewing public as stumbling into the Justice League franchise as opposed to marching in with heads held high as Marvel did for The Avengers.  

As for the rest of the rumored actors in line to be the next Batman, I will make short-SHORT commentary in regards to why they should NOT be Batman:

Ryan Gosling (too mopey)

James Franco (too busy looking in the mirror)

Bradley Cooper (too eccentric)

Michael Fassbender (he’s Magneto)

Joseph Fiennes (too old and too British)

Wes Bentley (not enough talent)

Tom Cruise (WAY too crazy, and old)

Andrew Lincoln (too busy with The Walking Dead)

Stephen Dorff (too skinny)

Josh Holloway (isn’t he supposed to be Solid Snake?)

Matt Bomer (too pretty)

Channing Tatum (the male version of Megan Fox)

Sam Witwer (who?)

Hugh Jackman (he’s Wolverine)

Any Hemsworth boy (contractually inaccessible)

Johnny Depp (um, no)

Jason Statham (too bald and too interested in generic action films)

Joel Edgerton (his face is too fat)

Sam Worthington (owned by James Cameron)

Chris Pine (he’s Captain Kirk)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (must have a Barry Bonds body transformation to apply)

Shia LaBeouf (come on, really?)

Ryan Reynolds (didn’t he already fail at a DC hero?)

Vin Diesel (not enough hair, talent or time)

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Back to the Past and Into the Future

A Film Review of Star Trek Into Darkness

By: Lawrence Napoli


Before getting right into this review, I’d like to chalk up a victory to internet speculation; which is basically two thumbs way, way up to all of you.  Back when J.J. Abrams was tapped to reboot this franchise with a throw back perspective of the original crew’s adventures, message boards all over the net lit up with likely plot points, villains and scenarios.  Abrams’ first adaptation in 2009 gave the audience a fresh new take on Kirk, Spock and the rest, but its success as a story was heavily dependent on plot points made famous in both the original series and feature films.  This brings us to the images leaked from Star Trek Into Darkness while in production and even more specific predictions hit the internet thanks in large part to the manner in which Abrams’ first story played out.  J.J. certainly played coy in response to all the rumors and speculation, but the fact remains that several key predictions of the online community regarding this film are accurate.  So again, I say to you all: well done!  Your insight serves you well.


Tron or Trek?

The basic plot for this film continues to make similar allusions to the past exploits of the original crew which is at times its greatest strength as well as its greatest weakness.  What’s good about this aspect to the screenplay is the fact that the nostalgia generated from the audience does much to bolster the sympathy factor for every character as well as the stakes they are contending.  Of course, what’s bad happens to be predictability; specifically in regards to new characters that are introduced and situations that come off as far too familiar.  J.J. went on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show talking about how he continued to want to make these reboots appealing to more than just “Trekkies,” which is all well and good seeing how the “money demographic” of males 18-25 is less likely to be familiar with Kirk and Spock’s original adventures.  If these tales worked once before, why wouldn’t they work again with an even bigger budget?  However, what’s most impressive about the script is that despite all the action and all the past references is that writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof still manage to make Star Trek Into Darkness an intimate exploration into both Kirk and Spock, what binds them together as well as what drives them forward.  This intimacy chains to the rest of the cast which really promotes a family dynamic amongst the crew and this makes the audience care that much more.  Overall, the script delivers a very accessible sci-fi adventure that focuses on action, but delivers dramatic character interplay minus the scientific jargon that tends to fill out the dialogue of standard issue Trek.  


Star Trek’s version of WMDs perhaps?

As for the action, it is a cavalcade of CG wizardry, wire-work and wreaking havoc with pyro which is exactly what this rebooting effort has been all about thus far.  What’s interesting, though, is that Into Darkness continues to not favor starship warfare as the de facto action option.  Certainly a budget of $190 million dollars can afford us a glimpse into futuristic people doing futuristic things without the aid of toy models.  Just about every character gets put into harm’s way with their boots on the ground which makes for some satisfying chase sequences and hand-to-hand fisticuffs at various points throughout.  As important as those elements to a Star Trek adventure may or may not be, seeing the Enterprise (or its respective counterpart) in action has always been a mainstay.  As iconic a vessel as that starship will always be, it is severely underused in this film.  Granted, the plot gives the audience a myriad of exposition to explain this little detail away, but the Enterprise is still vital in our protagonists accomplishing their goals.  I would have liked to see a lot more space ship action, and I’d really like for the production team to dim the lighting and décor on the bridge a bit.  For crying out loud, it seems like the command crew is operating within a tanning booth in the middle of an Apple Store!


More Enterprise please.

Star Trek Into Darkness continues to showcase some of the best examples of ensemble performances you’ll find in blockbuster films thanks to a number of larger names such as Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban being comfortable with the smaller, support roles of Uhura, Scotty and “Bones” McCoy, respectively.  As much as I’d like to see more of the command crew stand out, shifting the focus of a Star Trek movie away from Kirk and Spock is like shifting the focus of an X-Men film away from Wolverine: It just isn’t going to happen.  Still, J.J. seemed very diplomatic in partitioning specific moments for everyone to shine as well as bringing new characters such as Alice Eve’s Carol into the fold who will undoubtedly play a more significant role in Treks to come.  Peter Weller (a.k.a. Robocop) takes a break from his voice over work to do some live action as the fairly creepy Admiral Marcus.  His talents are better served behind a microphone.


Was this moment the real reason Alice Eve was tapped for this role?

And speaking of creepers, Benedict Cumberbatch as XXXX equates to the best performance you’ll see from a villain this entire summer.  Of course, I refer to his character as XXXX because it’s a major spoiler who he really is, and that gets instantly spoiled if anyone checks out imdb.com.  If you know your Trek mythos, allow yourself this additional little surprise by limiting your spoiler-free research to right here at cosmicbooknews.com.  That being said, this man has an incredibly intimidating voice that could redefine what it means to be a villain these days in Hollywood (and it already seems to be paying dividends in his additional film work as he has also been cast as the Necromancer in The Hobbit sequels). He doesn’t seem much to look at, but his domineering presence exudes from his dulcet tones.  Cumberbatch’s performance was a welcome return to respectable villainy unlike Eric Bana’s Nero in the last film which amounted to one of the worst villains ever conceived in the realm of science fiction.   


This is how you do the stare down.

Chris Pine does a respectable job as he continues to embody a young James Tiberius Kirk, and Zachary Quinto continues to amaze with his various reproductions and slight alterations to Leonard Nimoy’s performance during the original television series.  Separately, these men accomplish everything required of their characters, but in the scenes they share, I seem somewhat lost in buying their friendship has evolved to such a degree in such a short time to make their decisions in the third act come from a natural place.  It’s not exactly a lack of chemistry I am describing as Pine and Quinto nail the knucklehead/straight man routine quite well, but with only the plots of two films to build their camaraderie, it feels like Kirk and Spock are still feeling each other out and this uncertainty would not translate to such reckless abandon, both exhibit towards the end of the film.  Still, their evolution as Kirk and Spock progresses despite the fact they take a giant step forward in their shared “bromance” here.  I’d like to see Pine take it down a notch in terms of projecting Kirk as a hot-head, so as to accentuate his suave and smarmy appeal.  But perhaps this balance is only attributable to the unique efforts of Mr. William Shatner


Hunny, what if it was just us?  Would J.J.’s Star Treks still hold water?

Star Trek Into Darknessis a very fun adventure for both adults and kids, men and women.  There’s lots of CG eye candy, action and character intrigue.  It is a fine example of popcorn films doing their best to entertain.  A third Star Trek adaptation from Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams is inevitable, but that film will most certainly have to take more steps into uncharted territory than its brethren in terms of plot points.  It’s not enough for J.J. Abrams to remix the tales of old with the aid of youthful exuberance and an old Vulcan from the future giving you tips along the way.  There needs to be more separation before anyone with a cursory knowledge of Trek knows the entire story before it even hits the theatres.  Outside of this dependence on the past, the Star Trek reboots continue to prove as worthy diversions of summer fun.

Movie News Reviews

John Tripi’s Fantasy Draft: Robot Jox: Lucas, Lincoln, Takei, Norris

(Editor’s Note: The following is part of The First Cosmic Book News Fantasy Hollywood Draft; keyword being “fantasy”)

“It is fifty years since the nuclear holocaust almost destroyed mankind, war is now outlawed, and all territorial disputes between the two great alliances are settled by single combat.  A battle rages between two gigantic fighting machines piloted by their nations’ champions: The Robot Jox.”


That is just part of the opening for my choice in the First Cosmic Book News Fantasy Draft; my choice is rebooting the (1989) sci-fi movie Robot JoxSci-fi gamers out there might remember 1989 as the year the very first MechWarrior game from Activision came out, and exactly ten years after the first Gundam.  The whole decade was alive with Mechs from both America and Japan.  I remember watching this even before anything to do with Star Wars or Star Trek making it probably the first sci-fi I ever watched.

Robot Jox centers on giant mechs that fight wars instead of entire armies because humanity has been devastated by nuclear fallout from World War 3 and the people don’t want another nuclear war breaking out fearing total extinction. This puts all of the pressure of war essentially on the shoulders of the two Alliance factions: one being Alexander a merciless jock with a stereotypical Russian Block accent and the other being Achilles, the ‘Pretty boy’ egotistical American who is his Alliance’s last hope after Alexander kills the other remaining team member. (No spoilers it literally happens right after the intro.)

My interpretation of the movie could be carried with a strong PG-13 or very light R since the movie doesn’t need any gore or human on human bloody violence, there also isn’t any sex and while there is developing romance the movie doesn’t have the feeling that anything like that would belong.  The only thing that would bump the rating up in my opinion would be language.  Robot Jox carried a PG rating itself, but times change and I feel released now it would carry a higher rating and would benefit from a more dialogue as in many parts the movie feels overly-scripted.

On that note here are my picks for Director and cast:

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2084:]]Director: George Lucas

I picked George first because he has a lot of experience not only writing but also directing sci-fi movies.  The father of Star Wars with his finger in every project that comes out base in the Universe along with several of his own companies (ILM, Lucas Arts, Skywalker Sound, Lucas Film to name a few) he could bring all of that production might to the project and make it shine in ways other directors might not be able to because they wouldn’t have such ready access to his resources for such a sci-fi production (virtually all other movies come to at least one of his companies).  Yes, I accept he hasn’t made the biggest splash of late but the original movie was B-list at best and yet I still enjoy it a lot so if it just met that level I think it would be a success.

Achilles: Andrew Lincoln

For the title character I picked Andrew Lincoln.  Many of this site’s readers might recognize him as Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead on AMC.  I picked Andrew because of his recent performance in that show and how the range of personality he showed made a big impact on me.  I think he was perfect for the last remaining US Alliance member in Robot JoxI also chose him because I felt the film needed someone a bit less American since it’s supposed to be about alliances so the main group should have a bit more diversity.  In the original movie the whole team all seemed American which didn’t make it feel like an Alliance just ‘The USA against Russia.’  Not only that but as of 2012, he is the same age as Gary Graham, the actor who played the original Achilles which is an odd coincidence

Athena: Gina Torres

A veteran of many sci-fi productions including Firefly, Serenity, Cleopatra 2525, The Matrix 2 and 3 going even into games like DC Universe Online, she has a lot of experience in the genre and working with different directors.  Her experience will be an asset bringing her own flair to the role originally brought to life by Anne-Marie Johnson.  I also feel she would fit well against Andrew Lincoln both being more than capable of holding the audience’s attention.  While the mech battles center mostly on Achilles and Alexander, the relationship between Athena and Achilles was also important to show that women can hold her own in this world as well.

Alexander: Karl Urban

I was hoping to make Alexander a more imposing enemy than the original effort put forth by Paul Koslo in the original which seemed to be trying too hard.  This may have been the writers’ fault trying to up-play his origins rather than focusing on his actions.  I picked Karl Urban for this role because he can act rough and tough, has a great voice for the title antagonist and would do the role justice.  It would also be a bit of a departure from his ‘Good Guy’ persona from Lord of the Rings, Doom, Star Trek and more in line with the Vaako character from the Chronicles of Riddick series.


Guess who’s next Achilles?

Doctor Matsumoto: George Takei

This one I picked for my own amusement and because I am a George Takei fan.  I did keep my pick in line with the original characters Asian ethnicity.  George also has experience with sci-fi and many other genres, but I’ve never seen him play a mentor role like Matsumoto so I think it would be something a little different for him.

Commissioner Jameson: Jeffery Combs

My reasons for picking for Jeffery are not only his work on several Star Trek series, but also his connection to the original movie.  In the original he was 1st Prole, a very minor part but I moved him up because his current age and experience make him perfect to play the Commissioner.  I also like him as an actor.  He’s shown an ability to play various roles well but I would like to see him in more things aside from Star Trek.

Professor Laplace: Amy Adams

In the original movie, Professor Laplace was in her twilight years; experienced and well respected.  In the new film I picked someone much younger but old enough to have experience and respect.  I also tried to keep from having too many A-list people on the film because of its B-list nature.  I felt I needed at least well known actress so I picked Amy.

Tex Conway: Chuck Norris.

For the role of Texan Tex Conway I picked none other than Chuck Norris: famous in part for his role as Walker, Texas Ranger.  To my knowledge he has yet to do anything related to sci-fi, and while he has done movies, I picked him not because of that, but simply because I wanted too.  His following has become kind of a cult culture what with all the Chuck Norris quips and sayings, which to his credit even he has even spoken lightly of during interviews.  I think he is a great pick for the role of the over-the-top Tex Conway.


Crash and burn, baby!

So those are all my picks for the CBN First Hollywood Draft and for the reboot of Robot Jox.  There might be better picks for the roles, but I tried to keep things in line, not only with the original roles, but also the feel I got from watching the original.  I got all my original picks in the draft so I didn’t have to sub anyone in at the last moment except the director.  So these are my purest list of choices.  Would you pick someone else?  Comment on your choice!

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