The Post: Movie Man Jackson

Whether in a relationship, a job, or in matters of politics and America, power should never go unchecked. The Washington Post is in a little bit of a transitional period, led by publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), the first female publisher of a major newspaper. Graham—as does lead editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks)—wants “The Post” to be more than a local newspaper. She doesn’t command much faith in her visions, mainly because she’s a woman in a man’s world.

Opportunity does knock, however, when secrets regarding the US Government’s stance on the Vietnam War are leaked initially via the New York Times by way of the “Pentagon Papers.” Government is none too happy about it, and chooses to shut down the story before it gets too in-depth. They’re threatening criminal action if anyone else decides to run with it, but this is something that the American populace needs to know. Commence the battle between free press and the government.

Officially ending the unofficial real-life heroic figure(s) trilogy that director Steven Spielberg has lent his talents to in recent years starting with 2012’s Lincoln and 2015’s Bridge of Spies is his latest in The Post. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: It is impossible to discuss or think about The Post without thinking about our current everyday bizarre political world, but it is the truth. Spielberg has made something that honors the past, but is more so focused on preventing the future.

A fast production schedule rarely benefits a movie, but with Spielberg overseeing just about everything, it’s not likely we’d be getting a better cut with additional prep time. But, it is still impressive at just how well The Post comes out, showing no signs of a rushed timeline. The standard of excellence we’ve become accustomed to from Steven is still present, displaying a tight and historically accurate-looking presentation that rarely feels stagy or fake. Longtime legendary collaborators in cinematographer Janusz Kamiński and composer John Williams assist to make The Post one of the year’s best, technically.

Hard to find any egregious faults with The Post, if any. It’s a good movie that fits right into the season, with a solid script that seems to be very rooted into reality penned by debut feature writer Liz Hannah. One can feel the passion she has for this story and the character that is Katharine Graham. But, watching The Post is more akin to viewing an important, yet dry, history lesson more so than a compelling silver screen feature, even with the obvious allusions to what’s going on now. One that is respected for the overall craftsmanship and message rather than possessing the ability to become enamored with what is on screen.

Having Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks pretty much makes a film good by default, and no surprise, they’re excellent here. The first ever on-screen pairing between two of the greatest to ever do it proves fruitful, with the duo occasionally sharing scenes in the same location. Streep sells the fear, yet determination of trying to brave a male-dominated workforce, and Hanks sells the brazen determination of an editor trying to get to the bottom of a story the world needs, sleep be damned. Going past the big named twosome, The Post is planted with maybe not big, but well-respected, cast members in Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Tracy Letts, Alison Brie, and Bruce Greenfield who all blend in and chew scenery when needed.

Hot off the presses and fast-tracked ever since the results of that November 8th, 2016 day crystallized, The Post doubles as a timely historical piece and an obvious Oscar contender.

B

Photo credits go to IMDB.com, thefilmstage.com, esquire.com, and vogue.com.

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

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Star Trek Into Darkness: Movie Man Jackson

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To get to the dawn of the day, one has to make it through the darkness of the night. On an exploratory mission to preserve new life undetected, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) of the U.S.S Enterprise violates the undetected part to save a friend. For his actions, he is stripped of the ship and his status as captain.

But, he’s brought back to power when a mysterious threat declares war on StarFleet by wiping out many of its senior officers in one fell swoop. It’s up to Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and the rest of the crew to find the threat, hiding in dangerous deep Klingon space, and eliminate it.

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Like most sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness works with a bigger budget than before. Unlike many sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness actually holds the line more or less, when compared to its predecessor. Better than the first? Debatable, but the fact that it is a legitimate question to ask means Into Darkness is pretty darn entertaining.

JJ Abrams returns to the directorial seat of the Enterprise to direct the adventure of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and crew again. He sure likes lens flares maybe a tad too much but this is Star Trek and one expects things to carry some light and look bright. Isn’t that big of an issue in the opinion of yours truly. Action-wise, there are a few really good scenes, more than the first film for sure, but aside from the climatic set piece which is awesome, the extra 35 million in budget doesn’t completely improve upon the action from the initial Star Trek reboot.

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For diehard Trekkie fans, Into Darkness is probably looked at as Abrams and his team of writers in Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof peeing and desecrating on everything sacred that Star Trek possesses. Its story apparently takes some sizable inspiration from The Wrath of Khan and other old episodes/seasons, but adding little twists and additions. For casual fans such as myself whose first real exposure to Star Trek was 2009, I could never get all of the Easter eggs or changes, and as such, the story is simple yet satisfying, not disrespectful to what came before it. While it would have been interesting to see this movie explore some deeper themes like the old Star Treks were famous for doing, this 21st century reboot seems focused on being light, which is fine.

However, the 21st century reboot has been focused on character just as much, if not more than, action, and relies on the cast to deliver those character moments. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise there roles and further the challenging yet unbreakable bond that defines Captain Kirk and Spock. Honestly, the best moments of Into Darkness are between the two leads rationalizing what friendship means to each of them, and it sounds corny, but is executed wonderfully. A returning Zoe Saldana steps back into the Uhura role, with this time given more to work with. Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin (R.I.P) do well in supporting roles adding humor at times, and Bruce Greenwood is a steady hand that adds emotion.

Newcomers to the cast include Alice Eve, Peter Weller, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Eve is the only person who feels out of place in the film, sort of bland in her performance and existing to only serve as eye candy in what is now the infamous lingerie scene that serves no purpose. Weller, while having a very minimal role in terms of screen time, is very pivotal, and there is something cool about seeing the Robocop star as a part of the cast in one of the biggest media franchises there is. Lastly, Cumberbatch’s character is a great mystery. He’s a presence, both emotionally, physically, and audibly.

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Make it so. Star Trek Into Darkness makes the JJ Abrams directed reboots 2 for 2. Diehards will be be none too pleased, but everyone else? Resistance to enjoying STID is futile.

B+

Photo credits go to dvdizzy.com, ew.com, and Collider.com.

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Star Trek (2009): Movie Man Jackson

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The future begins in the remnants of the past. In space, a Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana) is seeking vengeance across the galaxy. His home world has been destroyed seemingly by the Federation, an organization that seeks to keep the peace between worlds.

Nero is from the future, which obviously complicates matters in ways no one is sure of. Receiving a distress signal from the Vulcan planet, the Federation deploys the USS Enterprise to investigate. On the ship, James Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) find difficulty in working together due to their conflicting personalities and worldviews. But, the two must come to respect each other in order to save lives.

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Franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek don’t just have casual fans, they have diehards of worldwide fans who know every detail and minutiae of franchise lore. Diehards who don’t take kindly to even the slightest bit of change or a reimaging. You can’t please everyone, and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek might not cater itself to the hardcore Trekkie. But, it does pay respect to the iterations before it, while being highly accessible and most importantly, fun.

The director in the captain’s seat of the USS Enterprise is JJ Abrams, who earned his stripes writing and directing the beloved Lost and Fringe TV shows, and blockbusters Mission Impossible III and Cloverfield. Star Trek, like most reboots, is an origins story, and really, it is an origins story of two characters: Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. JJ Abrams does a ton right in his version, but one of the strongest aspects of his storytelling in this movie is that nothing feels wasted, or elongated for no particular reason. While juggling two stories in about 20 minutes, Abrams tells the audience exactly who these two iconic characters are, and why the audience should care about them.

One could argue, though, that some aspects of the story are a wee bit fuzzy, or a little underdeveloped. Time travel, for whatever reason, always seems to give yours truly a tough time to wrap his head around. The villain Nero is as generic as they come. And Trekkies may not like the lack of meaty themes, something that the original series often included. Even the effective humor could be much for some (this is a very light movie). But, origin stories need not to be complex, just entertaining.

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Additionally, Abrams uses his CGI to stage pretty special action sequences, one in particular being a space jump followed by hand-to-hand and ending with a space free-fall that is one of the best blockbuster action sequences of the last 10 years. It’s not just the action, though, its the fully realized environment of space, but also, the fully realized interior of the Enterprise. The ship is a marvel to look at, feels “alive,” and, even if just aesthetically, as important to Star Trek as its characters.

Even with all of the previously mentioned good things, the reintroduction to Starfleet wouldn’t be as well-received if the casting wasn’t up to snuff. Not considering the foil, I do not believe there is a weak link in the crew. Karl Urban is consistently entertaining playing Bones, Zoe Saldana a presence as one of the only females Uhura, John Cho showing he can do more besides being Harold as Sulu, Anton Yelchin being memorable as Chekov, and Simon Pegg as funny as ever portraying Scotty.

But of course, the lynchpins are Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock, respectively. Pine put himself on the map playing the captain, showing off his character’s brashness yet steeliness in the face of peril. It’s a really fun role to watch, even if it can be a little too amped up once or twice. It is made better by Quinto’s precise performance. The two play off of each other well, and are both likable in their own ways, and seeing both characters coming full circle and accepting one another is a feel-good moment.

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Abrams’ initial foray into the Star Trek pays tribute to what came before it, but not to the point where it is too foreign to the uninitiated. All aboard the Enterprise, because this Star Trek prospers in more ways than one.

A-

Photo credits go to startrek.com, movieposter.com, http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org, and hautemacabre.com

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