Ep. 113 – Avengers: Infinity War (SPOILERS start at 10:02)

April 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

The CineSnob Podcast RETURNS to discuss the biggest superhero movie ever, “Avengers: Infinity War!”

WARNING: Cody and Jerrod talk spoilers starting a 10:02, so tread carefully, true believers!

Click here to download the episode!

Ep. 99 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

May 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5335289/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/yes/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/201938″ height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and talk about lesser-known San Antonio Spurs players of the last three decades.

[00:00 – 25:51] Intro/Remembering random Spurs from the last 25 years, from Jaren Jackson to Cherokee Parks.

[25:51- 44:48] Review – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

[44:48-49:01] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

May 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell
Directed by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)

The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film was a gamble in 2014, and it paid off big for Marvel—even if they were stealthily hedging their bets by releasing it late in the summer and without a firm connection to their already-established Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with loveable dirtbag characters, sharp humor and enough classic rock needle drops to make Cameron Crowe jealous, writer/director James Gunn’s sci-fi comedy about a bunch of a-holes was a refreshing change of pace from the Earth-bound heroes Marvel built its franchise on.

Following the financial success of the first film, Marvel allowed Gunn to run with the series, and in the time-honored sequel tradition of “bigger and more” he turned out “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” which still delivers most of the stuff you loved about the first go-round, only this time with a lot more of it and somewhat less satisfaction.

After a prologue in 1980 Missouri featuring yet another old actor digitally de-aged (in this case, Kurt Russell) to fill in some of our heroes’ backstory, we jump ahead 34 years as the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Baustia as Drax, the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and the heavily-processed voice of Vin Diesel as adorable Baby Groot) are doing some work for hire (their price? Karen Gillen’s Nebula) protecting intergalactic batteries from a space monster for some gold-skinned alien beings called the Sovereign.

After they’ve succeeded, Rocket decides to swipe a few of the priceless batteries for himself, leading to the Sovereign forces giving chase and downing the Guardians’ ship on a remote planet. They’re saved from slaughter by a man riding an egg-shaped ship, named Ego (Russell), who reveals he’s Quill’s long-lost father and wants to show him where he came from. While Gamora and Drax join Quill, Rocket and Groot stay behind to repair the ship and keep watch over Nebula, only to be ambushed by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of Ravagers out to collect a bounty on Rocket for thieving from the Sovereign.

After a mutiny derails Yondu’s original plan, he teams up with Rocket, Baby Groot, and Nebula to save Peter (and the galaxy) from the secret plan Ego has in place for his son.

With a kitchen sink approach to characters, plot turns and yacht rock songs, “GOTG Vol. 2” often feels in danger of collapsing under the bloat, but ends up kept afloat mostly by the enjoyment of hanging out with these characters again and the sheer amount of laughs the screenplay doles out. The comedy MVP trophy for this outing is more than earned by Bautista’s hyper-literal Drax, who punctuates nearly every near-death experience with a hearty, infectious laugh. Like a delicious hamburger with so many toppings they spill out all over your shirt when you take a bite, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is often highly enjoyable, but next time around you’d like it all to hold together a little better.

Infinitely Polar Bear

July 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky
Directed by: Maya Forbes (debut)
Written by: Maya Forbes (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days”)

With a movie title as cutesy and sappy as “Infinitely Polar Bear,” a play on the fact that the main father character is living with bi-polar disorder, one could’ve imagined this independent drama falling under the disease-of-the-week umbrella where audiences would be subjected to a series of melodramatic scenes edited between unimaginative montages and glossed over to fit the standard indie film festival mold.

Such is not the case with “Polar Bear,” a charming and heartfelt albeit occasionally shamelessly sweet drama that rises above some of the weaker parts of the script with a fantastic performance by two-time Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”), In in the film, Ruffalo plays Cameron Stewart, a manic depressive father living in Boston who is entrusted to take care of his two young daughters (Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide) while their mother Maggie (Zoe Saldana) goes to graduate school in New York so she can make a better life for her family.

Shot with grace and brimming with humor, what makes “Polar Bear” memorable is not only Ruffalo’s impressive take on the role, but also the way his character interacts with his daughters during the course of the year and a half their mother is back and forth between cities. Cameron is not a perfect father. He can’t take care of himself much less a pair of rambunctious kids. The family dynamic director/writer Maya Forbes presents is unique as we watch daddy and daughters try to find a way to coexist. Forbes does this without including all the usual clichés about a dysfunctional family trying to survive. The material feels new.

Some messy plot development aside, “Polar Bear” warms the heart and feels very personal. It’s easy to see that Forbes, who bases the film on her own experiences living with a father who was manic-depressive, isn’t just making a movie. She’s sharing intimate thoughts and feelings and doing it in a way that makes the narrative feel significant and never false.

The Book of Life

October 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum
Directed by: Jorge R. Gutierrez (debut)
Written by: Jorge R. Gutierrez (debut) and Douglas Langdale (debut)

The Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead in English, is as festive a celebration of death and dying as you’ll find anywhere in the world. Meant to honor and remember the dead, the Halloween-adjacent holiday features intricate, colorful depictions of skulls, a full spectrum of flowers, and sweet breads placed on altars to pay tribute to family members who have passed on. “The Book of Life,” an animated film produced by Mexican-born Guillermo Del Toro, spends its second half awash in the style of the holiday, depicting its characters as wood-carved representations of sugar skulls attending lavish parades in the Land of the Remembered. Unfortunately, this is where the plotting becomes most routine, wasting the beautiful visuals on what ultimately amounts to a ho-hum, by-the-book animated film with miscast celebrity voiceovers.

The movie begins as a story within a story told to schoolchildren visiting a museum. It centers on the relationship between three childhood friends in a small Mexican village who are made the subject of a wager between supernatural rulers La Muerte (voice of Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (voice of Ron Perlman). Aspiring singer Miguel and his macho soldier-in-the-making best friend Manolo both nurse a crush on Maria, a mischievous girl who is friends to them both. When one of their adventures gets out of hand, Maria’s father sends her away to a convent in Spain to curb her wild ways. As the years pass and the boys grow into men, Miguel (voice of Channing Tatum) has been pressured into bullfighting by his father and Manolo (voice of of Diego Luna) has become the decorated soldier he always dreamed of. On the day Maria (voice of Zoe Saldana) is to return to the village, both men make a play for her heart. When tragedy strikes, though, Miguel makes a grim bargain with Xibalba and must venture through the realms of dead to follow his heart.

While never venturing in to bad movie territory, “The Book of Life” begins to wear thin at the halfway mark. The lack of commitment to an all-Hispanic voice cast really begins to stand out when very white guy Channing Tatum takes over the voice of the adult Miguel, and really gets into groan-worthy territory when Ice Cube turns up as a mythical candle maker who talks exactly like Ice Cube circa 2014, sans curse words. Miguel’s adventure through the colorful Land of the Remembered and the grim Land of the Forgotten take too long to get going and end up feeling rushed. These scenes are filled with leaps of logic and end up being nothing but a retread of a frantic lesser Dreamworks animated piece of filler, which is a shame because the production design is strikingly unique from start to finish. “The Book of Life” doesn’t deserve to be left with the forgotten souls, but don’t bother leaving any pan dulce on the altar for it either.

Guardians of the Galaxy

August 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Directed by: James Gunn (“Super”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Super”) and Nicole Perlman (debut)

Never bet against Marvel Studios. Ever since Robert Downey Jr. suited up for “Iron Man” in 2008, the hits based on comic books have just kept coming. Even the most jaded cynic can honestly only call the studio’s worst output, namely “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man 2,” merely disappointing, never outright bad. Hollywood hasn’t seen a streak like this since the golden age of Pixar (read: pre-“Cars”), and since they’re playing with the house’s money after smashes like “The Avengers,” apparently someone at Marvel and Disney decided now was the time to see just how far into the outer reaches of the comic book universe they could delve for a mainstream movie. The studio is going all in – because why the hell not? – on a quirky sci-fi comedy in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the gamble pays off handsomely, for the most part.

After being abducted by aliens as a boy moments after his mother died of cancer, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) travels the galaxy, jamming out on a vintage Walkman while scrounging for treasures to steal to sell to the highest bidder. When he comes across an orb valued by Ronan (Lee Pace), an assassin named Gomora (Zoe Saldana) is sent to relieve Quill (AKA Star-Lord) of his prize. When the two clash on the planet Nova Prime, some opportunistic bounty hunters named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), who happen to be a raccoon and a tree, respectively, spot Quill and notice he has a bounty on his head offered by Quill’s partner/abductor Yondu (Michael Rooker). The duo complicates the interaction enough to land them all in prison where they meet up with Drax (Dave Bautista), a hyper-literal brute who has a grudge against both Ronan and Gomora. This is getting too complicated, so just know they need to overcome their differences in order to save the galaxy from some ultimate evil.

While Marvel may have a license to print money at this point, “Guardians” is by far their riskiest venture. This is a sci-fi movie first and foremost, filled with fantastical aliens, planets made from the guts of some space-faring creature, and guys with unironic epithets after their names like “the accuser” and “the destroyer.” Director James Gunn pulls everything together well, anchored by a winning, winking performance from Pratt, although the CGI Rocket and Groot nearly steal the show with their mix of humor and pathos. The real shame though is the boring, straight-faced villain and the warmed-over hunt for some cosmic MacGuffin. It’s as if the dark elf plot from “Thor: The Dark World” was just copied and pasted into the screenplay with only the names changed. Also somewhat disappointing is the obvious laying of groundwork for future installments. The intergalactic villain Thanos (voice of Josh Brolin), first glimpsed in “The Avengers” after the credits, gets some early screen time, only to disappear for the rest of the movie (and, one assumes, we’ll only see him in a series of cameos until “The Avengers 3” or something). Same for John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey and Glenn Close as Nova Prime; big actors stuffed into tiny parts with truncated arcs, waiting for their turn in subsequent sequels. If superhero fatigue has set in and you can’t take anymore S.H.I.E.L.D. but still need your fix for good versus evil, “Guardians of the Galaxy” should be right up your alley.

(Again, since this is a Marvel movie, stay until the credits have ended for another scene, this time showing just how far down the rabbit hole of the Marvel universe – and bad ‘80s nostalgia – the company is willing to go.)

Star Trek Into Darkness

May 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”)
Written by: Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”), Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek”) and Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus”)

Already having given audiences the best “Mission Impossible” film of the series with the third installment in 2006 and the best “Star Trek” movie with his hip revamp in 2009, director J.J. Abrams attempts to top himself again by joining up with the Starship Enterprise in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a solid follow-up to Abrams’ first foray into space seven years ago. It’s more proof that you don’t have to be a Klingon-speaking geekboy to find this franchise one of the more fascinating big-budget sci-fi projects to hit the mainstream in the last four or five years.

Of course, if you are one of those hardcore “Star Trek” fans that won’t be happy with the shape of Mr. Spock’s ears in comparison to Leonard Nimoy’s or looking forward to nitpicking any number of creative choices Abrams makes that are different from the original TV show, then it’s probably best if you stay home and Netflix “The Trouble with Tribbles.” This isn’t your grandfather’s “Star Trek.” For those interested in another fresh take from Abrams and have the open-mindedness to let things go, then “Into Darkness” just might be the popcorn movie of the pre-summer.

Working loosely off 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” which is what most “Star Trek” aficionados agree is the best of the original films, we join the crew of the Enterprise as they search for John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a former commander who has gone rogue. On his trail and reprising their roles from the 2009 film are Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, who was recently relieved and then reinstated as Captain; Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock; Zoe Saldana as Uhura; Karl Urban as Bones; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Anton Yelchin as Chekov; and Alice Eve as new and attractive science officer Carol Marcus. When they catch up to Harrison on a Klingon planet, the crew is shocked to learn there is more to their manhunt than simply eliminating a powerful villain.

Aside from the outstanding action sequences and set pieces that packed its predecessor, “Into Darkness” also takes an effective emotional turn with the relationship between Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock. Kirk’s massive ego and bullheaded nature and Spock’s reluctance to break regulation frame their interaction very well. Pine and Quinto once again take command of the characters in the same way William Shatner and Nimoy did in the late 60s. Sorry, purists, but those roles are theirs now.

With today’s technology catching up to Gene Roddenberry’s creation, the universe feels even more volatile, which makes for an exciting adventure with this crew. Who knows how long Abrams will stay on board (now that he’s been dubbed to lead the new “Star Wars” movie in 2015), but he’s laid some great groundwork for a dozen more and has taken the storytelling to a place few directors have gone before.

The Words

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldaña, Jeremy Irons
Directed by: Brian Klugman (debut) and Lee Sternthal (debut)
Written by: Brian Klugman (debut) and Lee Sternthal (debut)

What’s with a good-looking actor like Bradley Cooper playing a character as non-sexy as a writer? Why cast a charming, handsome sex symbol just to have him sit at a computer and type or silently read manuscripts for large chunks of the film? Is it a secret passion of Cooper’s? Or does he just want to keep his shirt on? As in 2011’s “Limitless,” Cooper once again plays a struggling author in the excruciatingly stupid drama “The Words” who can’t get his book off the ground until receiving a morally suspect leg up. In “Limitless” it was a brainpower-enhancing super drug. In “The Words,” it’s a found manuscript Cooper’s Rory Jensen passes off as his own on the way to fame and fortune.

First-time writers-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal steer “The Words” off the road and into a narrative ditch immediately by opening the film with a clumsy, nonsensical framing device featuring Dennis Quaid telling the fictional story of Rory’s plagiarism. Quaid’s bestselling author Clay Hammond is performing a reading of his smash-hit novel (also titled “The Words”) to a lecture hall full of adoring fans, including a beautiful admirer played by Olivia Wilde. As Hammond reads to the audience, the film confusingly shifts to the story of Rory and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldaña) and their days both before and after Rory became a successful author.

When Rory’s first book gets passed over by agent after agent, an eye-rolling-worthy convenient find in a satchel purchased in Paris turns up a forgotten novel set in postwar France. Though we aren’t treated to any insight as to what makes the book so transcendent, Rory feels moved enough by the discovery to, for some reason, re-type the entire thing on his laptop. One contrivance leads to another, and soon enough Rory is a best-selling author with a movie deal in the works. Life is great…until the day an old man (Jeremy Irons, convincing no one with his shoddy American accent and patchwork beard) shows up to let Rory know he’s onto him and that the story is actually his own. The movie grinds to a halt as the old man tells his story to a shame-frozen Rory. Let me clarify here: at this point the story of the movie is a story being told to a crowd in a lecture hall about an old man telling a story to another man on a park bench.

What does Irons’ old man actually want? What makes the story that Jensen stole so incredibly commercially successful? What is the point of Jensen’s story being the plot of Hammond’s novel? And why the hell is Olivia Wilde’s character in the movie at all? “The Words” offers no answers, alas, and will only end up leaving you with the most frustrating question of all: Why did I waste my time watching “The Words?”


August 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Paul Walker, Matt Dillon, Tip “T.I.” Harris
Directed by: John Luessenhop (“Lockdown”)
Written by: John Luessenhop (debut), Gabriel Casseus (debut), Avery Duff (debut), Peter Allen (“Klash”),

There are only so many things you can do with a screenplay as unoriginal as “Takers.” You can either compare it to better heist movies that have come before it or you can save your breath and take it for what it is: a generic, one-dimensional collection of cocky, GQ-fashionable stars running around with nothing meaningful to say or do.

In “Takers,” a group of professional thieves (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, and Chris Brown) team up with Ghost (Tip “T.I.” Harris), a former member of their crew who was recently released from prison after being the only one to get arrested during the boys’ last run together six years prior.

Now out of prison, Ghost wants to steal $30 million from an armored truck and feel his old friends owe it to him to join up for another heist. Although some of the men don’t trust Ghost, their leader Gordon Jennings (Elba) accepts the proposal since Ghost never took a plea bargain and ratted any of them out when he was in the joint.

On the other side of the law are LAPD’s finest, officers Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) who are hot on the trail of the “takers,” but have problems of their own to deal with as well. Like the criminals they’re after, neither of the boys in blue have much personality aside from a typical law-enforcement temperament.

Besides a few well-shot action sequences (this doesn’t include a pretentious shoot-out scene played over symphony music), “Takers” is not engaging unless you’re entertained by big-budget pissing contests. The testosterone and fashion might be at an all time high, but when you’ve seen one slow-motion strut in an Armani suit you’ve basically seen them all.

Zoe Saldaña – The Losers

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

“For me, the perfect role is a one that was different from the last,” actress Zoe Saldaña, 31, told me during a phone conference to promote her latest action film “The Losers.” “I really wanted to explore what it would be like to play a badass chica.”

In the film, which is adapted from a Vertigo comic book of the same name, Saldaña plays Aisha, a sexy operative who joins a team of mercenaries on the hunt for a rogue CIA agent.

During our interview, Saldaña, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, talked about the physical nature of the role and why she never dressed like princess characters for Halloween when she was a little girl.

It is easier to give off a sexual vibe when you have a gun in your hand?

(Laughs) Well, it definitely makes you feel powerful in a way. (Laughs) Yeah, it does make it easier to be sexy.

Is the action drama something you are comfortable doing now?

It’s definitely difficult because you’re there doing something that you don’t do naturally. What helped me was my dance background. It’s a combination of different things like working with a really good stunt coordinator that you can trust with your life. It’s fun when you’re able to incorporate your body into your character.

What drew you to the character of Aisha?

I had never done a character like her before. I read the script three years ago when another director was attached. The character just blew my mind. The kind of physical behavior that was going to be required of whoever was going to play Aisha was going to be a challenge. I love pushing myself.

How did you go from being on such a high with a record-breaking movie like “Avatar” to another movie?

“Avatar” was an amazing journey and an amazing film. I feel very blessed that I am getting characters that are different and challenging myself. I’m an artist primarily and I like to try different things. Aisha was just another character I was going to play. It’s always good for an actor to be employed so it feels really good.

What was it like on the set being the only female character?

I loved it! It’s happened more than once where I am the only female in a sea of men. In “Star Trek” it was the same way. It can’t really tell the difference because we are all artists and we’re kind of genderless in a certain way. I’m really a tomboy. Maybe I unintentionally gravitate towards those characters. I was never Snow White or Cinderella for Halloween. I was always Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley or a ninja. I’m like a little Terminator.

So, what would you say is the most girly thing about you?

I think it’s the way that I dress (laughs). As I keep working in this business, the one thing I have learned in my career is to dress feminine. I would normally be in a jacket, but that doesn’t sell. I am a girl, but it’s hard for me to go get a pedicure. I can’t sit down and allow my nails to dry. It drives me insane.

Do you feel you have more of a responsibility in the industry because you come from a multicultural background?

Yes. By knowing that there are people looking up to me – especially young women – it keeps me on track. I feel really blessed to have been raised the way that I was by my family. I was taught by my mom to love everything that I’m composed of. We were always allowed to be American because we were born here and we were always exposed to the culture that we come from.

You’re half Puerto Rican and a lot of this movie was shot in Puerto Rico. What was your experience shooting there?

It was great. I lived in the Dominican Republic for seven years, so going back to the Caribbean was like home. My mom was there for the first month and a half. We got to visit the whole family. There is a vibe in Puerto Rico. We immediately go into our Latino ways. We have a beer at four in the afternoon and then take a walk. Then you have your little cafécito with the neighbors and end up at la plazita.

What other types of roles do you hope to seek out?

I want to do everything. I would love to navigate in the world of comedy and thrillers. I would love to do more sci-fi because I’m such a geek. There is nothing cool about me.  I can’t limit myself. It’s the only way I can expand as an artist.


December 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Directed by: James Cameron (“Titanic”)
Written by: James Cameron (“Titanic”)

It has taken filmmaker James Cameron quite a while to get behind another camera for a feature film since proclaiming he was “king of the world” for delivering the sinking-ship-love-story that broke box-office records 12 years ago.

While “Titanic” went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture (over “L.A. Confidential” mind you) in 1997 and Céline Dion gave us enough firepower for a decade of “My Heart Will Go On” jokes, Cameron quietly slid out of the limelight and under the water to make a couple of documentaries on sunken ships and ocean ridges.

Now, Cameron, who is also behind groundbreaking films such as “Aliens” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” has come out of the ocean for some air and found time to give us another of those visual spectacles he’s known for. With “Avatar,” not only is the sci-fi adventure a magnificent sight to behold, there’s a quite serviceable – if not all too familiar – story to go along with the breathtaking imagery.

In the film, Sam Worthington (“Terminator Salvation”) plays Jake Sulley, a paraplegic Marine who is called up by the U.S. government and their scientists to make contact with members of an indigenous tribe on an alien planet called Pandora. The creatures, known as the Na’vi, have blue skin and are 10 feet tall. Jake’s job is to befriend the species and get them relocate so the military can go in and collect a powerful mineral in the area the Na’vis inhabit. Yes, the parallels to the war in Iraq are aplenty.

Of course, Jake cannot simply go in on his wheelchair and expect the entire alien race to trust him and follow his orders to move out. Instead, the government scientists – led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) – assign him to his own avatar, a surrogate alien that looks, walks, and talks like all the other Na’vis. Jake can control his avatar from the comfort of a laboratory pod.

Described by some critics as a sci-fi version of “Dances with Wolves,” Cameron captures the physical and emotional journey Jake takes as he becomes this alien being who must learn the ways of the tribe if he wants to earn his place among the clan. Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek”) plays Neytiri, a female Na’vi warrior who is delegated to teach Jake everything he must know to become part of her people. Their relationship is at the forefront of the storytelling and Cameron does not let it slip by the wayside. Beside the intriguing appearance of everything computer-generated that flashes on the screen, the connection Cameron makes between Neytiri and Jake is essential in having us believe his out-of-body experience is more than just a covert mission.

We are on a journey with Jake. From his first ride on the dragon-like banshee to his sprint through the jungle on his aliens legs, Cameron has us experience it all in vibrant detail and engaging action sequences.

While “Avatar” is not without its flaws (some of the dialogue is very laughable), there is entirely too many dazzling moments not to recommend it to anyone whose imagination craves a spectacular tour into a world never seen before.

Star Trek

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible 3”)
Written by: Roberto Orci (“Transformers”) and Alex Kurtzman (“Tranformers”)

Welcome me with open arms Trekkies worldwide.

While I may not know the difference between photon and polaron torpedoes and can’t speak a lick of Klingon, the new J.J. Abrams-helmed “Star Trek” has created a new fan – at least of the most recent film.

Commanding the Starship Enterprise is a young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), the son of a former captain whose reign was short-lived after being attacked by a Romulan ship the night his wife gave birth to James. Leading the enemy ship throughout the film is Nero (an unrecognizable Eric Bana), a Romulan who wants nothing more than to make anyone he comes in contact with suffer, especially the Vulcan race.

The back stories to the most influential characters of the series, including Kirk, Spock, and “Bones” McCoy are extremely fascinating. Give credit to screenwriting team Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman of the overblown “Transformers” movie for reenergizing this franchise. With so much material to work with in “Star Trek” folklore, Orci and Kurtzman do well in dabbling in both the old and the new aspects of what has made the franchise popular for so long.

As the new half human-half Vulcan Spock, actor Zachary Quinto is spot on, not only with his pointy-eared look but when what he brings to the character. The scenes he shares with the original Spock (Leonord Nimoy) are well-written and fit in nicely with the new story. The most important thing about this small cameo is that Nimoy doesn’t feel like he was thrown in as a gimmick. His contribution to the film is integral and Abrams uses the short time he has with him to expand the story by light years.

Once Kirk enlists in the Starfleet, “Star Trek” never lingers. It’s an extraordinary action film complete with impressive special effects and solid performances by the entire cast.