Quick Film Reviews: Towelhead, Bottle Shock, Star Trek, Crank: High Voltage

Towelhead

Towelhead is almost a female version of Running with Scissors.  Both deal with themes of homosexuality, abuse, and bizarre, unaware family members.  While the title of the film (and if I recall correctly, the preview I saw) suggests more of a theme of racism whereas the film centers around protagonist Jasira’s sexual discovery and abuse.  The characters surrounding Jasira are pretty interesting, including her father, who, when is he isn’t being racist or cruel to Jasira, is actually funny (as in we are laughing at him, not with).  Aaron Eckhart plays a difficult role as the scummy neighbor with a Texas accent that isn’t entirely there.  There’s her awkward black boyfriend Thomas, who while a bit of a sex-obsessed high school student, ultimately seems to be a decent person.  However, the real hero of the film is Jasira’s neighbor Melina and her husband Gil who shelter Jasira.  Overall, Towelhead is an interesting combination of family problems and abuse with some scattered bits of humor to lighten it up.

Bottle Shock

First off, I like Alan Rickman.  He has a great voice and is just perfect as a British wine connoisseur Steven Spurrier.  I was most interested in his story along with California vinter Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman).  However, much of the film is derailed with Chris Pine and Freddy Rodriguez’s love triangle with their wineyard’s intern.  This subplot is not new, interesting, and not entirely resolved even though it takes up a good chunk of the film.  The story of the Judgment of Paris though is a solid interpretation of theme of snooty Europeans being knocked down a peg by the down-to-earth Americans.  Judging by Chris Pine’s role in this and the following movie, he seems predisposed to playing arrogant douchebags who get beat up in bars.

Star Trek

startrekfilm

Just in case you don't believe me that there are explosions, there is one on the poster.

When I first heard that JJ Abrams was going to be directing the new Star Trek movie, I was excited.  I love his work on Lost and Cloverfield, but after seeing the trailer, I wasn’t so sure.  Luckily, the trailer lowered my expectations enough to make the film somewhat enjoyable.  I know we don’t need another person on the internet complaining about Star Trek, but there was a lot of dumb stuff in the movie.  There are sword fights (why?  you realize you have phasers, right?), a villain with ridiculous intentions and motivations (along with an evil space ship that has an interior like something out of Galaxy Quest), and enough deux ex machina to have its own gravitational field.  And speaking of which, I don’t rightly understand the confusion about singularities that sometimes makes them destroy planets and sometimes allows people to travel through time.

The cast is decent, though it’s hard to tell through the explosions.  Chris Pine is clearly doing his own thing with Kirk, which is fine in itself, but I’m not sure his characterization gave him much more personality than “kind-of-a-dick”.  Karl Urban does a good impression of Bones and Sylar is spot-on with Spock.  Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg are enjoyable comic relief as Chekov and Scotty respectively.  But why is Tyler Perry in this film?  Was he doing research for Tyler Perry’s Madea Joins Star Fleet? (Cracked has a good take-down of Tyler Perry here.)

Ideally, what I wanted in a new Star Trek film was a film taking place further in the future with a transitional cast from ST:TNG, with a series spinoff.  Obviously, that film doesn’t make nearly as much money as this one and I couldn’t guarantee that the plot would have been much better, but I would have liked it more.  Anyway, the plot to Star Trek basically undoes all Star Trek canon.  Since so much of the Federation beating back the Borg in ST:TNG and First Contact was so dependent on very specific set of extenuating circumstances which would not have happened due to all the changes in the timeline, I’m going to assume that a hundred years or so after Star Trek, the Borg came along and assimilated everyone.  The End.

Crank: High Voltage

I can’t begin to describe this film.  The plot is as enjoyably absurd as one could hope with a group of Chinese medics rescuing Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) who just fell out of a helicopter, stealing his heart, and plotting to steal his penis (yes, that happens and in the first five minutes no less).  As much as I joked about needing to see the first film for this to make sense, it actually did help to know some of the characters and events of the original Crank.  As over-the-top violent and misogynystic the first one was, this one was even more so – a not unimpressive feat.  Though the plot is (intentionally) ridiculous, the humor, effects, and tongue-in-cheek dialog are whip-smart.  I love that they kept the Google Maps transitions, too.

Crank is clearly setup now for a third entry, though I’m not quite sure what can be done to top Chev Chelios having to keep his adrenaline up and having to stay electrically charged.  Is he going to be on fire throughout Crank 3?  Does he have to kill someone every 10 seconds to stay alive?

Arbitrary song of the day: Nine Inch Nails – La Mer

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