REVIEW| Star Trek Beyond

beyond

Beyond what, exactly?

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Please Support Pop Arena

Okay, this is gonna be a quick one since I don’t have much to say other than “support this guy, I like his work”. Like my of you, I consume a lot of reviews on YouTube. One of personal favorites is a channel called Pop Arena, run by a guy named Greg. He does Animorphs reviews (both the TV series and the 50+ volume book series have been completed by him) Doctor Who novel reviews, and a bunch of other stuff, usually on request. He’s recently taken the bold step of reviewing full-time, which I find pretty admirable…and a little crazy, but admirable none the less. So in order to help this guy out in my own miniscule way, I’m going to leave a link to his channel and links to three of my favorite videos that he’s done. Let’s help this guy out and help him avoid homelessness, alright?

The YouTube Channel itself

Cybersix: A Series Review

Breaking Spines #3: Croyd by Ian Wallace

Crossing the Wilderness, A Doctor Who Book Guide| Timewyrm: Exodus by Terrence Dicks

What Makes It Work: The Daleks

And now, we come to something that’s more of an expansion/reboot on another blog post that I did in October of last year. I love the Doctor Who series, both in its classic and revived forms. And in both incarnations of this classic show that and excites and infuriates fans over (sometimes even in the space of a scene!) my favorite villain has to be those lovable pepper pot fascists, the Daleks.

 

Sound FX Daleks

BUY OUR TOYS! BUY OUR TOYS!

 

And as such, I’ve spent the time I could be going out and having a life contemplating what truly makes the Daleks work. Not in any biological or mechanical sense, oh no. I’m not that much of a hopeless nerd yet. I mean in a character sense.

What makes the Daleks work, in my opinion, comes down to two important words: simplicity and versatility. The simplicity part is obvious, really: The Daleks, made to hate and kill all non-Dalek life forms from birth, are essentially the ultimate monsters. Psychotic blobs in personal near-indestructible tanks, they’ve proven time and time again to be dangerous and nigh-implacable foes for The Doctor and all life in the universe. There’s no real reasoning with them, no real bargaining or pleading with them. They’re evil incarnate, and they want you dead.

But from that simplicity, a sort of versatility can be had as well. That’s what happens when you’ve existed for fifty plus years and have had legions of writers and scripting your actions. Just ask any comic book superhero whose lasted longer than the decade they were created. Hell, entire books can be, and have been, written on the subject of characters that have lasted decades and how they’ve changed with the times, be it for  good or ill. Superman himself could probably sustain and entire book’s worth, just from the comics and the various other mediums he crossed over into.

 

Wait, what was I talking about?

RedDalek

IF YOU GO OFF TOPIC AGAIN, YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!

 

 

 

Oh, right, the Daleks.

The Daleks are versatile in many ways. For one, they can function as a singular threat or as an oncoming army, like any good alien invader. They can also be their own type of threat or simply work as henchmen of a larger big bad (i.e. Davros). The Daleks can also manipulate they’re enemies by making them think they’re either docile or there to help (Power of the Daleks, Victory of the Daleks) can manipulate other sentient creatures to help them out (like the Dalek did to Rose in Dalek) and even on (not so rare now) turn to relative good (Evil of the Daleks, Dalek, Into the Dalek, Dalek Caan at the end of Journey’s End). They can even be genuinely sympathetic…in their own, mass murdering way.

With the Daleks set to show up again in season 10, the Daleks are seen by some as overexposed (thank you BBC and your refusal to make a deal with Terry Nation’s estate). I can’t say I’m tired of the Daleks just yet, though. They’re my favorite villain in the whole show, and I hope they can go on for as long as they can.

Ghostbusters (2016) IS NOT BAD

I’ve left you, my dear readers, completely without content for the last couple of weeks. I apologize for that, it was one of my frequent bouts of writer’s block and procrastination. And since I’ll be going on vacation next week, I’m going to do my best to give you some damn good content before I leave.

As such, let’s talk about the new  Ghostbusters movie.

Ghostbusters

Who you gonna call? A random asshole on the internet!

 

Alright, first off, I want you to know that the original Ghostbusters (1984) is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve loved it ever since I first saw that classic on VHS during the mid-nineties, and I’ve loved the franchise ever since. It is, to me, essentially perfect and there is no way in hell any other comedy is going to match up to it.

This all means I knew that there was no way in hell that this new one could stack up. But, this being the internet, every crazy mother*$%#er decided to blow up the “it’s not gonna be as good” to a bloody war crime, with an all female cast being burned in effigy for the crime of not being male. I basically avoided getting into any social media pissing bouts with anybody (a good policy for anyone who frequents the internet), but for those of you who want to know my opinion on the over the top reactions to something that is perceived at “ruining” childhoods, I refer you to here.

As for the plot, it focuses on Kristen Wiig’s Erin, a Columbia University professor looking for tenure. She gets a bit of a fright when she finds out that a book about the supernatural she wrote with her former friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is getting a reprint. She goes to convince Abby to pull the book, but a genuine haunting drags her back into the paranormal along with Abby and the engineering savant Holtz (Kate McKinnon). When another ghost sighting brings the New York Metro employee Patty (Leslie Jones) to their door, the four ladies team up to capture ghosts and prove to the greater world that supernatural phenomena exist.

Oh, and there’s this one guy who looks like the 20-something son of John C. Reilly (Neil Casey) setting up devices to give ghosts more power and trying to destroy the world. There’s that, too.

Okay, now that we got the recap out of the way, let’s get to the problems. The characters all feel a bit too immature and cartoony, for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, the actors have a great chemistry and make these characters work for them (especially Leslie Jones, who nails her part right in the head and is probably the most mature character of the main cast), but it just seems kind of off, especially given the fact that the original team all felt like functioning adults. There’s also a lot of what I’m calling Cameo Bingo, where you can’t seem to go twenty minutes without seeing a recognizable face. You can bet all the surviving cast is there to make cameos (save for Rick Moranis, which I found kind of weird), plus a bunch of guys you’ve seen elsewhere and some SNL talent, with the odd celebrity cameo here and there. And while I feel that all the jokes work in the original, there are several gags which fall flat in this one, particularly a running gag of the ladies being forced to look like frauds by the mayor (Andy Garcia) and his bitchy aide (Cecily Strong). Also, Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin is almost completely unnecessary throughout.

But like I said, this movie is not bad. The actors are all game for the material, especially Jones and McCarthy. Wiig and McKinnon are good too, even if their characters seemed slightly more annoying than and quirky than they needed to be. The chemistry between everyone works too, with Wiig and McCarthy working well with each other and believable as two former friends reuniting for a common cause. The action works well and the special effects (particularly the ghost’s designs) are all pretty damn good over all, with even the neon color pallet winning me over after a while. The cameos, while somewhat gratuitous, also work (highlights being Bill Murray as a debunker of the supernatural and Sigourney Weaver as Holtz’s mentor), with only Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo falling completely flat.  And the story is actually a pretty good spin on the original’s, even if the whole “evil mastermind” thing doesn’t entirely work.

Overall, Ghostbusters (2016) is a film that’s worth your time and not deserving of the mountains of hate heaped upon it for existing. Go forth and check it out yourself. Seriously, it’s better than you’d expect.