Summary: As Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) dreams of the days he actually got to fly a fighter jet instead of being bunkered down in Las Vegas at the controls of drones flying bombing raids in Afghanistan he turns to alcohol while on a crash course of ruining his marriage to his wife, Molly (January Jones).
His and his team’s, which features newbie ‘pilot’ Airman Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz), hell continues when he is ordered by his superior, Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) to follow a new set of orders from the C.I.A., orders that will see a rise in the number of innocent civilians killed.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th August 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Andrew Niccol
Screenwriter: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Jake Abel (M.I.C. Joseph Zimmer), Sachie Capitani (Jesse Egan), Rich Chavez (A1C Thomas Rutledge), Peter Coyote (Langley), Stafford Douglas (Billy), Bruce Greenwood (Lt. Colonel Jack Johns), Jessica Stotz Harrell (Airman Jean Jacobson), Ethan Hawke (Major Thomas Egan), Colin Jones (Frank), January Jones (Molly Egan), Corey Kapahulehua (Senior Airman Miller), Dylan Kenin (Capt. Ed Christie), Zoe Kravitz (Airman Vera Suarez), Zion Rain Leyba (Travis Egan), Ryan Montano (Airman Roy Carlos), Kristen Rakes (Iris), Edric Ray (Airman Steven Willer), Ross Shaw (Lt. Drier), Michael Sheets (Danny), Alma Sisneros (Emily Jones), Kevin Wiggins (Trooper Morgan)
Runtime: 102 mins
OUR GOOD KILL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Good Kill is the kind of the film that the United States Armed Forces do not want you see. Sure there are some conspiracy theorists out there who are claiming that this is the reason that Good Kill has been ‘hidden away.’ Make of that what you want but the history of Good Kill to date is kind of surprising. It launched to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival and then seemed to just disappear after a dismal opening weekend in the United States where it just scraped over the $1000 mark (yes I mean $1000 I haven’t left any zeroes off it).
Now whether or not you believe that The Smoking Man made this film disappear or whether or not it was a case of people staying away because of either the fact that Ethan Hawke’s movies are normally hit or miss these days (you could be excused for placing a Hawke ban on yourself if you had just seen Getaway) or that this from director Andrew Niccol that’s last film was the dog named The Host. Whatever the reason people did stay away from Good Kill and in doing so missed one of the film’s of the year.
Good Kill is one of those films that not only stays with you a long time after the credits have rolled but also opens up your eyes to something that you didn’t even realise was happening. The war is Afghanistan is almost forgotten these days but through this film Niccol is able to shake the public into seeing a hidden side of this war, a side that is not only seeing the lives of innocents lost in a country far away but a side that is also seeing the lives of former combat heroes ruined on the home front.
As the director and screenwriter of Good Kill Niccol expertly draws his audience in by making his audience believe early on that this is going to be a film in the vein of Top Gun, a film that glorifies the Armed Services. Early on we introduced to Thomas Egan and we see him as the Air Force pilot that is considered a hero by those around him, drives a hotted up American muscle car and goes home each tonight to the drop dead model-like wife. But through a series of events Niccol pulls that all away and soon the hero of this film is being forced to watch a graphic rape 7,000 miles away that he can do nothing about and is wasting away in a job that has having a seriously negative affect on his life. To Niccol’s credit he does ‘nice up’ this film for his audience, instead he makes his audience watch the some horrors that Thomas and co are watching and he strongly makes the point he is trying to make without making it feel like he is preaching to his audience.
You can say a lot about Ethan Hawke as an actor. Sure he doesn’t always know how to pick the best script but when he is given a quality script to work with he does deliver. Here is one of those times. Good Kill sees Hawke play the falling hero exceptional well with the scenes he shares with Bruce Greenwood being some of the best scenes you are likely to see on the big screen this year. To the film’s credit it gives some bite to the roles of its female cast and as a result you see some strong acting from January Jones and from Zoe Kravitz who for once is stepping away from the big action blockbusters.
Good Kill is not always an easy film to watch. The graphic rape and bombing raid footage might be a little hard to stomach for some but this is a film that you feel that you must see to realise just how frightening this new X-Box style of war using drones really is. Credit must be paid to Niccol for not holding back, he instead makes his film as stark as the Las Vegas desert landscape he captures so well. If you like a film that makes a strong political point than Good Kill is one film you need to watch this year.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Good Kill reviews: You can listen to our Good Kill review on an upcoming episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Good Kill review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
Summary: Based on the true crime and novel by Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot explores the murder and trial of three boys that went missing in Memphis in 1993. The crime brings three teenagers to trial and despite pleading innocent and the mounting forensic evidence to support their innocence, the teenagers are persecuted without question and left at the mercy of lawyer Ron Lax who continues to probe deeper into the case and the prejudices that exist within the court of law. The film explores the lives of deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and their darkest fantasies. The conviction of the West Memphis Three – Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin – riled the American justice system, shocked a tightly knit religious town and outraged the nation.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th July, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Atom Egoyan
Screenwriter: Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson, Mara Leveritt (novel)
Cast: Robert Baker (Detective Bryn Ridge), Paul Boardman Jnr. (Michael Moore), Kerry Cahill (Jo Lynn), Brandon Carroll (Bobby DeAngelo), Jack Coghlan (Aaron Hutcherson), Dane DeHaan (Chris Morgan), Kevin Durand (John Mark Byers), Mireille Enos (Vicki Hutcheson), Colin Firth (Ron Lax), Wilbur Fitzgerald (Tom), Michael Gladis (Dan Stidham), Bruce Greenwood (Judge Burnett), Gary Grubbs (Dale Griffis), James Hamrick (Damien Echols), Martin Henderson (Brent Davis), Kristopher Higgins (Jessie Miskelley), Stan Houston (Detective Donald Bray), Brian Howe (Detective McDonough), Ted Huckabee (Steve Jones), Julie Ivey (Melissa Byers), Jet Jurgensmeyer (Stevie Branch), Elias Koteas (Jerry Driver), Matt Letscher (Paul Ford), Rex Linn (Chief Inspector Gitchell), Seth Meriwether (Jason Baldwin), Stephen Moyer (John Fogelman), Bill Murphey (Marty King), Alessandro Nivola (Terry Hobbs), Kristoffer Polaha (Val Price), Anessa Ramsey (Rosie), Amy Ryan (Margaret Lax), Lori Beth Sikes (Annie), Brad D. Smith (Todd Moore), Brandon Spink (Christopher Byers), Matthew Stanton (Detective Durham), Clay Stapleford (Detective Mike Allen), Stephanie Stewart (Domini Teer), Brooke Jaye Taylor (Officer Regina Meeks), Reese Witherspoon (Pam Hobbs), Collette Wolfe (Glori Shettles), Isabella Zentkovich (Amanda Hobbs)
Runtime: 114 mins
OUR DEVIL’S KNOT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The story of The West Memphis Three has been itching to be turned into a feature film for a great deal many years now. Countless documentaries have been made around the case over the years, and so powerful is the story of injustice that it has been impossible for anyone to sit through them without some kind of anger building up inside them. To be brutally honest the whole story (or should that be saga) is really a screenwriter and director’s dream.
Devil’s Knot looks at the case of The West Memphis Three told through the eyes of a private investigator, Ron Lax (Colin Firth) and one of the grieving mothers, Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon). As Hobbs desperately tries to work out what happened in her son’s murder Lax concentrates on the theory that the three accused, Damien Echols (James Hamrick), Jason Baldwin (Seth Meriwether) and Jessie Misskelley (Kristopher Higgins) are innocent.
Oscar nominated director Atom Egoyan decides to tackle the case head-on in his latest film Devil’s Knot. Now a rookie filmmaker may have simply decided that this film should be told through the eyes of one of the accused but Egoyan is smarter than that and instead digs up the story of one of the case’s lesser known players, the private investigator hired by the three accused’s legal team to try and clear their clients name. So not to make the film too one sided Egoyan also tells part of the story through the eyes of Pam Hobbs, a grieving mother who seems more open to the fact that injustice is being done than anyone else involved in the case.
Early on Devil’s Knot is a promising film. It digs up certain parts of the case that are naturally overlooked in most explorations into the case including the mysterious ‘muddied and bloodied black man’ who was spotted in a fast food diner on the night of the murders. But it’s not long after that revolution that Egoyan seems to let Devil’s Knot dangerously let itself down. Just as Lax beguns to uncover series leads that suggest a Police cover-up and Police corruption the film pulls back from how hard-hitting it should have been and instead becomes a court room drama in the vein of a television show like Law & Order.
The second half of Devil’s Knot shows why a director of the class of David Fincher needs to get hold of this story and do something with it. The links of the boys to the occult and Satanic rituals could have taken the film into some dark places while the whole Police corruption element and them deciding to investigate Ron Lax needed to have a lot more suspense put into it then what it shown here. For Devil’s Knot to work there needed to be less of Lax sitting around in an office and talking to the lawyers and more of him actually out on the street doing the leg work – after all he had to be getting these leads from somewhere, right? Perhaps the most ironic thing about how much the screenplay lets down the film is that it comes from the same pen as Deliver Us From Evil, Scott Derrickson.
As a result Egoyan really under uses his two leads. Colin Firth seems like an actor champing at the bit for a dramatic scene right throughout Devil’s Knot while Reese Witherspoon plumps up and heads into the similar character territory she explored in Mud but again she is let down. Instead of allowing her character to deliver some powerful scenes when she starts suspecting her own husband, Terry Hobbs (Alessandro Nivola), as being involved in their son’s murder. It’s a sad point to make but the screenplay here really does let down both Firth and Witherspoon.
Devil’s Knot could easily have been one of the best films of the year, but sadly it is let down by a director and screenwriter who seem reluctant to tap into the suspense that is handed to them on a plate. Instead the second half of the film becomes a slow court room drama that never really lives up to its potential. Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon try in vain to deliver something but even they are let down dangerously by a script that needed to be much better.
Summary: Explores the consequences of motorcycle rider Luke’s (Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling) fateful decision to commit a crime to support his child. The incident renders him targeted by policeman Avery (Golden Globe Award nominee Bradley Cooper), and the two men become locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both of their families in the years following.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 9th May, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Screenwriter: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Mahershala Ali (Kofi), Ephraim Benton (Benny), Leah Bliven (Leah), Rose Byrne (Jennifer), Robert Clohessy (Chief Weirzbowski), Bruce Greenwood (Bill Killcullen), Travis Jackson Campbell (Baby AJ), Trevor Jackson Campbell (Baby AJ), Emery Cohen (AJ), Bradley Cooper (Avery), Michael Cullen (Mr. Anthony), Dane DeHaan (Jason), Breanna Dolen (Breanna), Gabe Fazio (Scott), Ryan Gosling (Luke), Whitney Hudson (Whitney), Ray Liotta (Deluca), Ben Mendelsohn (Robin), Eva Mendes (Romina), Olga Merediz (Malena), Luca Pierucci (Doc Crowley), Anthony Pizza (Baby Jason), Alex Pulling (Alex), Greta Seacat (Cory Gilbeau), Dante Shafer (Dante), Kayla Smalls (Vanessa), Craig Van Hook (Jack), Harris Yulin (Al Cross)
Runtime: 140 mins
SUBCULTURE MEDIA/THE GOOD THE BAD THE UGLY FILM SHOW REVIEWS/RATINGS OF ‘THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES’:
Summary: When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
Cast: Chloe Act (Nikicha Tomser), Beau Billingslea (Captain Abbott), John Cho (Hikaru Sulu), Noel Clarke (Thomas Harewood), Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan), Alice Eve (Dr. Carol Marcus), Leni Ford (Cosmoe), Bruce Greenwood (Christopher Pike), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Chris Pine (James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura), Karl Urban (Bones), Peter Weller (Admiral Marcus), Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov)
Runtime: 132 mins
SUBCULTURE MEDIA/THE GOOD THE BAD THE UGLY FILM SHOW REVIEWS/RATINGS OF ‘STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS’:
Summary: In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award® winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 31st January, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriter: John Gatins
Cast: Michael Beasley (Officer Edmonds), Garcelle Beauvais (Deana), Ron Caldwell (Trevor), Don Cheadle (Hugh Lang), Dane Davenport (Derek Hogue), Brian Geraghty (Ken Evans), Peter Gerety (Avington Carr), John Goodman (Harling Mays), Bruce Greenwood (Charlie Anderson), Rhoda Griffis (Amanda Anderson), Tommy Kane (Mark Mellon), Ravi Kapoor (Dr. Kenan), Melissa Leo (Ellen Block), Bethany Ann Lind (Sheila), Justin Martin (Will), E. Roger Mitchell (Craig Matson), Piers Morgan (himself), Tom Nowicki (Len Caldwell), Conor O’Neill (Kip), Kelly Reilly (Nicole), Will Sherrod (Schecter), Gregory Marshall Smith (Greg), Jim Tilmon (himself), Adam Tomei (Fran), Tamara Tunie (Margaret Thomason), Nadine Velazquez (Katerina Marquez), Shannon Walshe (Tilda Banden), Denzel Washington (Whip Whitaker), Darius Woods (Young Will), Boni Yanagisawa (Camelia Satou)
Runtime: 139 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Flight’ Review:
Look no further ‘Flight’ is the best disaster film that you are ever likely to see. Director Robert Zemeckis breaks his string of animation films (that have included ‘Polar Express’, ‘Beowulf’ and ‘A Christmal Carol’) with ‘Flight’, a film that centres more on its flawed hero rather than the actual disaster at hand.
The hero that Robert Zemeckis decides to concentrate on is long-time pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington – Safe House, Unstoppable) a drug-taking alcoholic who after a rough night on the substances with air-hostess Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez – TV’S The League, TV’S Hart Of Dixie) ends up boarding a ill-fated jet-liner that literally breaks-up in mid-air. Despite being well under the weather Whip works frantically with his flight crew, Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty – Ass Backwards, Refuge) and Margaret Thompson (Tamara Tunie – Missed Connections, TV’S Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit) to miraculously ‘crash’ the plane in such a way that they have minimal deaths.
While the media at first labels Whip as a hero (until they start to wonder why he isn’t allowed to talk to them), behind the scenes things are very different indeed. At first it seems that Whip union representative Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood – The Place Beyond The Pines, TV’S Young Justice) is going to help him but soon Anderson realizes that this is going to turn into a defence case when it is discovered that Whip had both cocaine and alcohol in his system.
Anderson brings in lawyer, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle – Captain Planet 3, TV’S House Of Lies) to defend Whip as he heads into an investigation led by the experienced Ellen Bock (Melissa Leo – Dwegons, The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman). But while Lang and Anderson try to help Whip clean up his life before the hearing he heads into a dangerous relationship with recovering addict Nicole (Kelly Reilly – Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, TV’S Above Suspicion: Silent Scream) while drug dealer and close friend Harling Mays (John Goodman – Trouble With Curve, ParaNorman) is always lurking in the shadows.
Robert Zemeckis seems to break every rule of your typical ‘disaster’ movie. Firstly, the hero here is also the anti-hero, the audience is introduced to him in a scene that consists of full frontal nudity and drug use, he’s not your squeaky clean hero but such is the power of the script by John Gatins (Real Steel, Dreamer) no matter how dirty Whip’s life is you can’t help but want to see him come out of this hearing unscathed.
The second rule that Zemeckis breaks is that the film itself focuses around the hero rather than the disaster. The plane crash scene is nothing compared to the one in ‘Final Destination’ but that won’t let you disappointed because Zemeckis and Gatins get suspense out of this films in other ways – ways that include the audience wondering whether Whip will be able to clean up his life before the hearing and then the actual suspense as you wait for Whip’s all important answer during the hearing.
Adding to the power of ‘Flight’ is the terrific acting performances of its main cast. Denzel Washington really laps up getting the chance to play a somewhat unlikable character while Don Cheadle and Kelly Reilly are more than serviceable in their roles. John Goodman also backs up his recent good performances with a role that sees him mix comedy and drama together brilliantly.
Summary: In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 9th June, 2011
Australian DVD Release Date: 17th November, 2011
Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Jack Axelrod (Mr. Blakely), Caitriona Balfe (Elizabeth Lamb), Gabriel Basso (Martin), Dan Castellaneta (Izzy), Kyle Chandler (Deputy Jackson Lamb), Graham Clarke (Airforce Airman Korne), Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb), Michael Crawley (Airforce Airman Taylor), Dale Dickey (Edie), Jonathan Dixon (Airman Nevil), Thomas F. Duffy (Rooney), Ron Eldard (Louis Dainard), Noah Emmerich (Colonel Elec), Elle Fanning (Alice Dainard), Britt Flatmo (Peg Kaznyk), Amanda Foreman (Lydia Connors), David Gallagher (Donny), Ben Gavin (Deputy Milner), Michael Giacchino (Deputy Crawford), Bruce Greenwood (Cooper), Jade Griffiths (Benji Kaznyk), Riley Griffiths (Charles Kaznyk), Tony Guma (Sergeant Walters), James Landry Hebert (Deputy Tally), Michael Hitchcock (Deputy Rosko), Richard T. Jones (Overmyer), Beau Knapp (Breen), Ryan Lee (Cary), Teri Clark Linden (Mrs. Babbit), Kate Lowes (Tina), Scott A. Martin (Sal), Jake McLaughlin (Merrit), Koa Melvin (Baby Joe), AJ Michalka (Jen Kaznyk), Andrew Miller (Kaznyk Twin), Jakob Miller (Kaznyk Twin), Joel McKinnon Miller (Mr. Kaznyk), Zach Mills (Preston), Alex Nevil (Rick), Bingo O’Malley (Mr. Harkin), Tom Quinn (Mr. McCandless), Brett Rice (Sheriff Pruitt), Marco Sanchez (Hernandez), Jay Scully (Deputy Skadden), Jessica Tuck (Mrs. Kaznyk), Glynn Turman (Dr Thomas Woodward)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR REVIEWS/RATINGS OF ‘SUPER 8’:
It’s funny that Steven Spielberg is attached to the movie Super 8 because one of the things that hits you during the movie is that same feeling you felt the first time you saw E.T. The fresh-faced kids, a young actress that you know is going to be a star and even an alien that just wants to get home. It’s all there, but you can’t really say that J.J. Abrams has copied a single thing from the classic… because what he has done is create an individual film that shines for about 90% of its running time.
Super 8 sees a group of kids, led by Charles (Riley Griffiths) and Joe (Joel Courtney) trying to make a zombie film, but in doing so they accidentally catch a massive train crash on camera. However, this isn’t any ordinary train crash because soon the town is haunted by the disappearance of people, dogs and lots of things made by metal. Convinced that something is going on the kids decide to investigate. Meanwhile Joe’s father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler) is called to investigate the crash. He also suspects the military is covering up something but is also worried about his son’s budding relationship with Alice (Elle Fanning)
J.J. Abrams really has outdone himself here. He doesn’t fall into the trap of introducing the alien too early… after all the main part of this story is the relationship between Joe, his friends, Alice and his father. To his credit Abrams never lets the sci-fi aspect of the film overshadow those relationships… perhaps the right way to describe this film is a drama with some sci-fi thrown in. The train crash scene is enough to show anyone that J.J. Abrams is one of the finest directors we have around at the moment. It’s intense and stunning (without going over the top) and you do genuinely find yourself worried about the characters as they run through it. The only let down is the final 15 minutes of the film. The flowery end has ‘Spielberg’ written all over it and is ultimately what prevents Super 8 from being one of the finest films to surface over the last couple of years.
The other stroke of genius Abrams reveals is in his casting. Those who are fans of the TV series Friday Night Lights know what Kyle Chandler is capable of, and he certainly doesn’t fail to deliver here. Chandler is brilliant and it is a shame that his character kind of fades away into nothing towards the end of the film. But where Abrams really has made the right choice is with the kids. They are all brilliant but Joel Courtney seems to be the one that will have the massive career ahead of him… he is a natural talent. He is also well supported by Elle Fanning who seems to be following in her sister’s footsteps and is blossoming into a fine actress.
The first 90% of Super 8 are brilliant and Abrams really needs to be congratulated for his skill and vision, but the last 15 minutes of this film really do leave a bad taste in your mouth, it’s a shame it ends with such a PG ending rather than live up to its convictions. Still, Super 8 does more than enough to impress and is certainly worth a look.
Summary: The year is 1845 and a wagon team of three families is setting off across the sparse terrain of the Oregon desert, in northwest USA. They are guided by mountain man Stephen Meek, who claims to know a short cut, but when they become lost in the dry rock and sage, their faith in their guide, and in each other, weakens. After days of wandering, suffering the hardships of the inhospitable landscape and unable to find water, a Native American wanderer crosses their path. The pioneers are torn between trusting their guide or a man who has always been seen as the enemy.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th June, 2011
Australian DVD Release Date: 5th October, 2011
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Screenwriter: Jonathan Raymond
Cast: Paul Dano (Thomas Gately), Bruce Greenwood (Stephen Meek), Shirley Henderson (Glory White), Neal Huff (William White), Zoe Kazan (Millie Gately), Tommy Nelson (Jimmy White), Will Patton (Soloman Tetherow), Rod Rondeaux (The Indian), Michelle Williams (Emily Tetherow)
Runtime: 104 mins
OUR REVIEWS/RATINGS OF ‘MEEK’S CUTOFF’:
Kelly Reichardt seems to have done something over the years that has upset those responsible for making sure she wins an Oscar because while it was disappointing that Wendy & Lucy didn’t get nominated it is an absolute crime that Meek’s Cutoff wasn’t. While this isn’t a film for the popcorn set it is a film that will be lapped up by real film lovers. It is a film that will actually make you think… now you can’t say that about much modern cinema, can you?
Meek’s Cutoff follows a group of settlers as they make their way across the harsh Oregon landscape in 1845. The group which is made up of Soloman Tetherow (Will Patton), his wife, Emily (Michelle Williams) as well as the Gately Family and the White Family is being led by Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) who is supposed to be a great tracker, but seems to have got the group lost. As the continue to wander aimlessly through the un-inhabitated land the realisation that they could die of starvation or thirst becomes reality, while Meek continues to warn them that the only thing they have to fear is the savage Indian tribes that are ‘watching them’. The racist Meek then takes an Indian (Rod Rondeaux) captive which divides the group.
Those familiar with Reichardt’s style will know that she likes to use minimal dialogue in her films. She once again uses this in Meek’s Cutoff and it enhances the film a million times over. It truly gives the audience a real feel of the loneliness that the characters are going through, and while some audience members will be annoyed by her ‘slow-moving’ style scenes such as the opening scene can really only be described as pieces of cinematic brilliance that true film lovers will fall in love with instantly. It is work like this that show just how good of a director Kelly Reichardt really is.
Meek’s Cutoff is penned by Jonathan Raymond (the same screenwriter who wrote Reichardt’s brilliant Wendy And Lucy) and this is one combination that seems to be a marriage in heaven. Raymond’s fine script only enhances Reichardt’s film-making style even more and if it is true that Raymond used the politics of George Bush vs. Barack Obama as a basis for the storyline of this script then he really is a screenwriting genius… and if he didn’t well he should just shut-up and let people think that he did.
This film also once again reminds the world just good Michelle Williams is as an actress. Once again she puts in a faultless performance and it seems that since her Dawson’s Creek days she has continued to grow as an actress and never once put in a bad performance. Those critical of her acting should see her ‘stand-offs’ with Bruce Greenwood in Meek’s Cutoff because they are truly sensational.
Meek’s Cutoff shows that are still some creative films that can surface from the U.S. and only proves the fact that Kelly Reichardt is one of the most important filmmakers of our generation.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Meek’s Cutoff′: This review of ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ by David Griffiths originally appeared in Buzz Magazine.
If you’re a fan of director, Kelly Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy, Old Joy) then you are sure to love her new offering Meek’s Cutoff. But like her past work it is hard to see Meek’s Cutoff being lapped up by the popcorn set, instead this is a movie for the film-connoisseur, and one that will be well-loved by those who consider themselves at Reichardt fan.
Meek’s Cutoff is set in Oregon in 1845 as a group of settlers make their away across the country in order to stake a ‘claim’. The group which is made up of Soloman Tetherow (Will Patton – Knucklehead, Waking Madison), his wife, Emily (Michelle Williams – Shutter Island, Blue Valentine) as well as the Gately Family and the White Family is being led by Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood – Super 8, TV’S Young Justice) who is supposed to be a great tracker, but seems to have got the group lost. The racist Meek then takes an Indian (Rod Rondeaux – TV’S Comanche Moon & Into The West) captive which divides the group.
Reichardt once again uses her familiar style of ‘very little dialogue but brilliant cinematography’ to get the very important message held in Meek’s Cutoff across to her audience, and this is one film that is really enhanced by her ‘slow-moving’ style. The opening scenes of a wagon crossing a river a brilliant, and only goes to show just how good Reichardt is as a director.
Reichardt’s skills are only enhanced by a terrific script by Jonathan Raymond (Wendy & Lucy, TV’S Mildred Pierce). If the rumours that Raymond uses a metaphor of George Bush vs. Barack Obama are true then he is a screenwriting genius… if they aren’t true then he can simply rest on the laurels of the fact that he has created an amazing film that once again gives actress, Michelle Williams a chance to show off her brilliant skills. Any of the scenes that she does here with Bruce Greenwood are truly sensational.
Meek’s Cutoff shows that are still some creative films that can surface from the U.S. and only proves the fact that Kelly Reichardt is one of the most important filmmakers of our generation.
Summary: The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father’s legacy with Commander Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th May 2009
Australian DVD Release Date: October 2009
Country: United States, Germany
Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Gene Roddenberry (television series)
Cast: Rico E. Anderson (Captain Kelley Bogel), Eric Bana (Nero), Jimmy Bennett (Young James T. Kirk), Ben Binswagner (Admiral James Komack), John Cho (Sulu), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Ayel), Ben Cross (Sarek), Spencer Daniels (Johnny), Calvin Dean (Security Officer Daniels), Tony Elias (Officer Pitts), Amanda Foreman (Hannity), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Tony Guma (Lew The Bartender), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Brad William Henke (Uncle Frank), Jacob Kogan (Young Spock), Jennifer Morrison (Winona Kirk), Leonard Nemoy (Spock Prime), Rachel Nichols (Gaila), Jim Nieb (Sal), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Tyler Perry (Admiral Richard Barnett), Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Jonny Rees (Chief Engineer Olson), Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson), Zoe Saldana (Ulhara), Faran Tahir (Captain Robau), Karl Urban (Bones), Jenna Vaughn (Baby Spock), Anton Yelchin (Chekov)
Runtime: 127 mins
OUR STAR TREK REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Despite the fact I’m a huge sci-fi fan I’ve never really been able to get into ‘Star Trek’ so it was with much trepidation that I went to see the new film. But I need not have worried as once again J.J. Abrams shows that he can make anything a great watch, and this time he makes ‘Star Trek’ accessible to those who have never seen one of the films or TV Shows… no mean feat.
This ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning as we see the birth of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana). While Kirk travels through troubled teenage years Nero continues on a mission of revenge. This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and even though most of them don’t know what to make of him they are forced to trust him hen Nero comes across technology that allows him to destroy planets one by one.
Taking ‘Star Trek’ right back to the beginning is perhaps one of the smartest things J.J Abrams could do. By doing this even people who know nothing about the ‘Star Trek’ universe can get into the story and this could in turn breathe new life into the franchise. And while this seems to have ruffled a few feathers with older ‘Star Trek’ fans it works remarkably well in my eyes.
Story wise, like any Abrams film (and even Kurtzman scripts) ‘Star Trek’ works as it gives great emotional access to it’s characters while mixing drama with all the elements of a true big-budget action blockbuster. Characters like Kirk and Spock become well-rounded characters that genuinely draw emotion out of the audience… now how many sci-fi films can you say that about. The only weakness that can leave you a little disappointed is the fact that even though Bana is brilliant as Nero he just doesn’t get the screen time (or lines) that an actor of this caliber warrants. It does seem a waste of his talents.
If you are afraid of the ‘Star Trek’ brand don’t be… Abrams has done a wonderful job separating this from the past films and TV shows and you can watch this as an action sci-fi film that stands on it’s own two feet. This is a new beginning for ‘Star Trek’… a film that will keep any cinema lover in awe… and on the edge of their seat. This is ‘Star Trek’ for the new generation
‘Star Wars’ fans don’t be too worried… you aren’t alone. See only a few years ago it was ‘Star Trek’ fans who heard that news that J.J. Abrams was going to bring life back into a franchise that was supposedly ‘stale’. The good news for ‘Star Wars’ fans is that Abrams didn’t exactly do some a bad job on ‘Star Trek’.
The best thing about Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ was he made it accessible for people that had never watched any of the previous films or television shows…. not only did Abrams breathe new life into the series but he also opened it up for a new legion of fans.
Abrams makes sure that ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning so far back that the audience actually sees the birth of James T Kirk (Chris Pine – Rise Of The Guardians, People Like Us) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana – Deadfall, Hanna).
While Kirk travels through is troubled teenage years (with a little bit of difficulty) Nero continues on a mission of revenge. This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto – Periods, Dog Eat Dog), Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban – Dredd, Priest), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho – Identity Thief, Total Recall), Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana – The Words, Colombiana) and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin – The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, Fright Night) and even though most of them don’t know what to make of him they are forced to trust him when Nero comes across technology that allows him to destroy every planet one-by-one.
Many may have scoffed when they heard that Abrams was going to tackle ‘Star Trek’, it was like people had forgotten that he is no slouch when it comes to science-fiction… anybody remember ‘Cloverfield’ or even some of the better elements of ‘Lost’? Like he does whenever he tackles a project he takes the basic story and turns it into an action blockbuster.
Together with Alan Kurtzman (who also proved he can be creative with science-fiction with ‘Transformers’ and ‘The Island’) Abrams remembered to infuse some drama and suspense into ‘Star Trek’ but more importantly he turns characters like Kirk and Spock into well rounded three-dimensional characters… something that a lot of science-fiction writers and directors seem to forget to do.
It also seems like Abrams got the casting right with ‘Star Trek’. Chris Pine used the role of Kirk to reinvent his career and it certainly seemed to impress producers as not long later he was playing Captain America firstly in his own film and then in ‘The Avengers’. In fact the whole cast step up and while Simon Pegg gets to show off some style without going into full comedy mode, but you do have to feel sorry for Eric Bana, while he puts in a good effort he just isn’t given the screen time or lines to show what he is truly capable of. An actor of his calibre was simply wasted in the role of Nemo.
When it came to ‘Star Trek’ Abrams really opened up the franchise to a whole new generation (pun intended) and as a blockbuster it works amazingly well. If ‘Star Trek’ is anything to go by then maybe ‘Star Wars’ is in safe hands after all.
Buzz Magazine Review:
J.J. Abrams once again shows that he can make anything a great watch, and this time he makes ‘Star Trek’ accessible to those who have never seen one of the films or TV Shows… no mean feat.
This ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning as we see the birth of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana). While Kirk travels through troubled teenage years Nero continues on a mission of revenge. This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew, although they don’t trust him. Will they trust him when they really need to?
Story wise, like any Abrams film ‘Star Trek’ works as it gives great emotional access to it’s characters while mixing drama with all the elements of a true big-budget action blockbuster. Characters like Kirk and Spock become well-rounded characters that genuinely draw emotion out of the audience… now how many sci-fi films can you say that about. The only weakness that can leave you a little disappointed is the fact that even though Bana is brilliant as Nero he just doesn’t get the screen time (or lines) that an actor of this caliber warrants. It does seem a waste of his talents.
This is a new beginning for ‘Star Trek’… a film that will keep any cinema lover in awe… and on the edge of their seat. This is ‘Star Trek’ for the new generation.
Firstly, let me get my Star Trek credentials out of the way. I have never been invested in any incarnations of this franchise. I have only ever watched a handful of episodes of Next Generation and have seen one of the feature films (Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Khan), but I have seen the porn spoof Sex Trek: the Next Penetration if that counts for anything. So it pleases me to report that the new film from Director J.J. Abrams pulled me (a newbie) in like a Romulan tractor beam.
The film starts off with a with a hair-raising space battle and never loses momentum. It is immediately clear: this film has an epic scale.More surprising is the almost instant inclusion of heartfelt emotion. This is a movie that doesn’t sacrifice character for action.
Rebooting the franchise for a new generation has given Abrams’ the chance to populate his film with an exceptional cast. The two brightest lights are Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Their natural chemistry injects the film with real heart, the rarest quality in the modern blockbuster. The rest of the cast is decorated with stars: Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban. Like all good team-based films, each member gets their chance to shine. Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci keep the film moving at a fast pace and manage to establish real motivations for their characters. Their script is so good I almost forgive them for Transformers. Nah, those films are unforgivable.
As good as the cast is, the greatest aspect of this film is not its human element, but its representation of space. The visual effects are staggering, enveloping the audience in the vastness of the film’s universe. Abrams manages to achieve more with this one film than George-nobody-likes-me-Lucas could with his entire ‘Prequel Trilogy’. Disregard any prejudice you may have for the ‘Trek’ and jump on board, you will not regret it.
I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about J.J. Abrams reboot of this franchise as i am a fairly hardcore Trekkie having watched all seasons of the tv shows and the previous films and have a big opinion on what a Star Trek film should be. Now that this is the highest grossing Star Trek film by a big margin, obviously it’s a big crowd pleaser, not like the previous installment Nemesis.
Straight away this film grabs the attention with an opening scene featuring a ship in peril and the birth of Kirk in space, without bringing a groan to the audience with once again, a time travel story. Nero (Bana), an angry Romulan from the distant future comes back through time to prevent the destruction of his homeworld. Upon arrival, he immediately destroys the ship containing Kirk’s parents, his father sacrificing himself to save his just born son. With this setup, Abrams has licence to give this Star Trek universe an alternate future to the one already established, thereby not completely trashing the memory of Gene Roddenberry’s vision. This Trek is darker, grittier, more intense and more action based.
The recasting of the original crew is inspired, especially Zachary Quinto as Spock. Chris Pine does an excellent job playing a different kind of Kirk. All major original cast have their moments to shine in this film Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, McCoy and Scotty.
Because of the urgency placed on the mission to stop Nero in this film, there is a big rushed action feel. The big themes of Roddenberry’s Trek: Equality, Ethics, Evolution of Humanity, a character’s growth to be more human is completely missing from this film. It is just a big entertaining action explosion fest with the original crew characters thrown together on the same ship. It is missing all the elements that make Star Trek the important vision of the future that it is. An entertaining thrill ride it is, and a sequel is now inevitable, but it’s not the same Trek that Roddenberry strived for. While you go to see a movie primarily to be entertained, Star Trek should always make you think about what could be, and what humanity can achieve if it work’s together. I don’t think I want the direction of this new franchise to exclude this.
Otherwise, anybody not seeing this just cause it’s Star Trek are missing out on a great film. It has a great plot, great characters and is thoroughly enjoyable to everyone as it doesn’t get bogged down in any technical jargon that would alienate the anti-scifi people. And you don’t need to know anything about any previous Trek as it is a reboot.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Star Trek reviews: The Buzz Magazine Star Trek review first appeared in Buzz Magazine – October 2009.