How to Trek: 10 Things to Know About ‘Star Trek Beyond’

Star Trek Beyond3-TMK

The action-packed Star Trek Beyond, the third installment in the new franchise, completely embodies the original series in tone and heart, and stands as the best effort in this reboot series to date.

The 2009 Star Trek introduced those iconic sci-fi characters – Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) – as young upstarts joining Starfleet Command, and then cleverly skewed the timeline to create an alternate universe from the original. The 2013 follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness, however, seemed to bite off more than it could chew with an overly convoluted plot and unnecessary throwbacks, particularly in the way they brought back Khan.

Now, with Star Trek Beyond, they’ve worked out the kinks and have delivered a solid film that is, to date, most closely attuned to the beloved 1960s series. Under the guidance of director Justin Lin (who takes over the reins from J.J. Abrams), and armed with a superb script from Simon Pegg (aka Scotty) and Doug Jung, this is an action-adventure in which the crew of the Enterprise have been on their five-year mission to keep peace in the galaxy but find themselves stranded on a remote planet where they have to stop a bad guy (with a twist to the Star Trek past) from wreaking havoc. Simple and effective.

At the recent press conference, the Enterprise crew talked about making Star Trek Beyond, the tragic loss of their comrade Anton Yelchin, and more. Here are 10 things we took away from the press day [Warning: There are some spoilers ahead]: Continue reading ‘How to Trek: 10 Things to Know About ‘Star Trek Beyond’’

How to Interview: Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello on “Lights Out”

Lights-Out-TMK

If you’re human, then you’ve been afraid of the dark at least one time in your life – and the latest horror film Lights Out plays right into that fear.

Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg, who, along with wife Lotta Losten, first created the Lights Out story two years ago as a short film for a competition. That film went viral on YouTube with over one million views – and naturally, Hollywood came calling.

Sandberg had to flesh out the story a bit to make his first feature film, so he centered it on Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), a young woman who realizes her little half-brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), is experiencing the same events that once tested her sanity. Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity who cannot survive in the light and has an unnatural attachment to their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello).

At the recent press day, ScreenPicks sat down with stars Palmer and Bello to talk about the creepy Lights Out. Continue reading ‘How to Interview: Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello on “Lights Out”’

How to Interview: Alexander Skarsgard & Margot Robbie for “The Legend of Tarzan”

Tarzan-MK

The great love between Tarzan and his Jane is one of literature’s most enduring romances. The strong ape man falls for the beautiful American girl, living in Africa with her father. Tarzan marries Jane, and the two move to England to live as the Claytons, Lord and Lady Greystoke. Except civilized life isn’t really for them, so they return to Africa to live out the rest of their days.

In the newest version of the classic story The Legend of Tarzan, Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie bring the iconic characters to life and display a real chemistry, making Tarzan and Jane’s love affair very romantic and oh-so-sexy. When they are called back to Africa (under false pretenses they soon discover), it becomes a rescue mission for Tarzan to save his love – even though Jane does a pretty good job fending for herself.

At the recent press day, Skarsgard and Robbie talk about taking on these larger-than-life characters and making them their own. Continue reading ‘How to Interview: Alexander Skarsgard & Margot Robbie for “The Legend of Tarzan”’

How to Watch: 9 Things About ‘The BFG’ You Should Know

 

BFG2

Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG – about the friendship between an 11-year-old girl and a giant – has been brought to glorious life by really the only man who could do it justice: director Steven Spielberg.

As the tale tells, orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) encounters the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children. The two then must come up with a plan to stop the ogre-ish giants from stealing children, which includes help from Queen Elizabeth II (Penelope Wilton).

Returning to the fantastical realm, it’s familiar territory for Spielberg, who once again excels at bringing heart and imagination to the big screen, all through Dahl’s keen insights into childhood sensibilities.

ScreenPicks attended the press day with Spielberg and stars Barnhill, Rylance and Wilton and found out these nine essential things you should know about The BFG. Continue reading ‘How to Watch: 9 Things About ‘The BFG’ You Should Know’

How to Watch: New ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Trailer for All the Right Fuzzy Feels

Petes-Dragon3

As a re-imagining of the 1977 animated Disney classic, this Pete’s Dragon uses all the great CGI techniques to bring the story of Pete and his friendly, furry dragon, Elliott, to life.

As the official synopsis reads, “For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales… until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.”

Watch the trailer!

At a recent presentation for Pete’s Dragon, ScreenPicks was able to view four clips from the movie, which were each fantastic in showing us just enough of the story to make us want more. Redford’s Mr. Meacham has a twinkle in his eye when he is telling stories about a “dragon” in the forest, while Howard as Grace (who looks a lot like Redford, so good casting) is kind and patient with her father. But when she and Meacham see Elliott for the time, tears will come to your eyes. Continue reading ‘How to Watch: New ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Trailer for All the Right Fuzzy Feels’

How to Q&A: ‘Conjuring 2’ Stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson

The-Conjuring-2

The Conjuring 2 stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have been friends for years and their easy and effervescent chemistry is so evident on screen, playing paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Conjuring 2 follows the Warrens, just coming off the Amityville case, in which they are labeled by some as charlatans for believing the house was possessed by a demon. Lorraine wants to pull back on their work because she has visions of something horrible happening to her husband. But a case across the pond in Enfield, north of London, brings them back into the demon fold. They are sent to investigate claims that a malicious spirit is plaguing the home of a single mother, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), and her four children living there. Particularly affected is 11-year-old Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), who seems to be the conduit for the spirit. Let’s just say this… it’s just as scary as the first one!

At the recent press day, Wilson and Farmiga the chemistry continued as they talked about the love between the Warrens, working with director James Wan and their thoughts on Ouija boards. Continue reading ‘How to Q&A: ‘Conjuring 2’ Stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’

How to Watch: ‘Now You See Me 2’

NYSM2

Step 1: Realize some of the original magic has been lost in Now You See Me 2, but it provides a requisite amount of fun when it needs to.

Step 2: Set up the trick. The story takes place one year after the Four Horseman pulled off their big trick and exposed the big bad businessman, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) for all his greediness, and spread his wealth to the masses. They are now awaiting instructions from the all-powerful Eye so they can come out of hiding and start doing their Robin Hood magic again on stage. Leader Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg) is the one most chomping at the bit and almost ready to just chuck the anonymity and go out on his own. Actually, Henly (Isla Fisher) already did that. She couldn’t wait anymore, and now she’s gone. But hypnotist Merritt (Woody Harrelson) and card-shark Jack (Dave Franco) are still around, and they are joined by quippy newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan), who is a breath of fresh air in this quartet. Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) is still working both ends, as a FBI agent trying to keep the bureau off the Horsemen’s trail but also keeping the Horsemen in check with The Eye

Step 3: Watch things go off the rails. When the Horsemen are finally allowed to appear again, this time to take down a tech millionaire, whose invented a chip that can spy on any device or computer anyway, but it turns out they are set up by one Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who exposes Dylan and wants them to steal the chip. Lots of other twists and turns happen after that, including Daniel’s supposed nemesis Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman) and Arthur’s return, but to give too much else away would spoil it.

Step 4: Get a crew that works. The camaraderie with the returning cast still works, with the pleasant addition of Caplan, who really takes the “female” role in a whole new, spunky direction. Her Lula is a snarky trickster who has a real knack for cutting off her body parts and for proving she’s actually better than the guys – and she unabashedly has the hots for Jack. Also good is Radcliffe as the smart-ass Walter, who fancies himself a magician but isn’t very good at it. He’s a fun sort of villain for awhile, until his path converges with Arthur; then it falls flat. Oh, and Merritt ends up getting a nemesis as well – his twin brother (also Harrelson), wearing a bad perm wig and big teeth. Not sure why this character is even needed in the scheme of things, and Woody plays him embarrassingly over the top.

Step 5: Wonder what’s missing. The true element of surprise that the original delivered seems to lacking in Now You See Me 2. Watching the Four Horsemen pull off their tricks in the original made it stand out as fun, thrilling adventure tale. The characters zinged, and you couldn’t really see the fascinating twists coming. In the sequel, however, the magic has faded and just not as badass. While the characters still connect in a fun way and there are some great scenes of them doing their stuff, the story falters and the twists aren’t that compelling. Unfortunately, Now You See Me 2 doesn’t offer anything really new.

How to Watch: ‘Me Before You’

Me-Before-You

Step 1: Fits the bill. As far as weepy summer romantic dramas go, Me Before You may be a tad more predictable and not quite a three-hankie tearjerker, but it still achieves the requisite feels, buoyed by an effervescent performance from Emilia Clarke.

Step 2: Keep the same writer. Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes, who also wrote the screenplay, Me Before You tells the story of one Louisa Clark, known as just plain Lou, a happy-go-lucky girl who fancies herself a fashion plate (albeit an odd one), has a longtime boyfriend (Matthew Lewis) and generally loves life in the small England town where she lives. When she loses her job at a local cafe, however, Lou has to figure out quickly what to do next so she can keep helping to support her family. That’s how she meets Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a former finance genius who is paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a motorcycle and has pretty much given up on life. In fact, we find out he’s determined to end his miserable existence.

Lou doesn’t know that, though, and so when she is hired by Will’s mother, Camilla (Janet McTeer), to look after him, it’s Camilla’s hope Lou can change her son’s mind. Lou just sees it as a good job, but as hard as she tries, she can’t get Will to show any interest at first. Or does he? I mean, Lou is a little hard to resist with her amazingly charming ways, so soon Will is won over and the two spend quality time together, eventually falling for one another. Lou does find out what Will’s true intentions are, but is their love enough for Will to hang on? One thing is for certain, their lives are forever changed by the love they find. Okay, now it’s time to grab the tissues.

Step 3: Step out of your comfort zone. How refreshing to see Clarke move away from the badass Mother of Dragons she plays in Game of Thrones to take on the role of a quirky, homespun girl who loves bumblebee tights, bright-colored shoes and boy in a wheelchair. Don’t get us wrong. We love us some Daenerys Targareon, but of course, that’s just Clarke playing a part, and the actress can obviously do more (she even tackled Sarah Connor in last summer’s Terminator Genisys). As Lou, Clarke has so many wonderful facial expression and joie de vivre – and not obnoxious in any way – it’s really hard not fall in love with her. While Me Before You really is Clarke’s film, Claflin’s good-looking charms come shining through. The Hunger Games star has the unenviable job of being stuck in a prone position, but he doesn’t play it one note. He and Clarke stir up the requisite amount of chemistry to make us care. When Will tells Lou at one point how hard it is he can’t do all the love-making thing he wants to do to her, you feel it. And it makes it all that more sad.

Other standouts are veteran British actors McTeer and Charles Dance as Will’s parents. Their combined acting experience elevates the tragedy of the situation, especially McTeer as Camilla, who so desperately wants to hold onto to her son, in whatever condition he is in. Oh, and as an added and delightful bonus, we get to see Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis (that would Neville Longbottom) all grown up and playing Lou’s selfish douche boyfriend who doesn’t understand her in any way.

Step 4: Love the castle. Director Thea Sharrock makes her feature film debut with Me Before You and while she doesn’t weave any magic, she manages to bring you into Lou and Will’s love story quite effectively, while also highlighting the quaint little town they live in – a town with the ruins of a grand castle at its center. If you have to grow up in such a small town, this isn’t all that bad. The only real flaw is Me Before You just doesn’t quite hit the notes with as big a punch as you want it to. Moyes adapts her own work, which probably helps, but the tragic romance doesn’t produce those wracking sobs like The Fault in Our Stars did or have enough off-beat humor like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Still, Me Before You has enough laughs and sighs and tears to place it firmly in the must-see romantic drama category.

How to Watch: “X-Men: Apocalypse”

X-Men-Apocalypse-Poster-TMK

Step 1: Get ready for more of the same. Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse is the third installment in the series revolving around the younger versions of our favorite X-Men characters, and while it isn’t as stellar as the first two – First Class and Days of Future Past – Apocalypse still manages to thrill you with its mutant action and impeccable characterizations.

Step 2: Tell the story. Apoc takes place about 10 years after Days of Future Past. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) are successfully running Xavier’s School for the Gifted, which takes in young mutants who want to learn how to control their abilities AND get an education. Here we meet the young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose telekinetic powers are so strong it concerns Charles, and Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), who has just found out his eyes are now powerful laser beams. Not exactly the ideal thing for a teenage boy.

Meanwhile, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is still saving mutants from being exploited and rescues a young Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and brings him to the school. Raven also has found out that Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is in trouble again, and she wants to go help him with Charles’ assistance. But, of course, they are all sidetracked when an ancient mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) rises in Cairo after being trapped for centuries, ready to destroy all the weak humans and take over the world. And Apocalypse doesn’t work alone. He needs his “Four Horseman” by his side, so he recruits four powerful mutants to assist him, and in 1983, those four include a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy) – and Magneto, naturally.

Step 3: Love us some Mystique. The cool thing about Mystique is that her future has been altered. When we first meet her in the original X-Men movies, she is a villain, working with Magneto to take down those humans oppressing the mutants. Then in X-Men: First Class, a new Raven emerges, one with a lonely past but defiant in staying true to who she is. We see her leaning towards Magneto’s side, knowing how that turns out, but in Days of Future Past, the timeline is skewed by Wolverine and their success in saving mutants in the distant future. So now, in Apocalypse, Mystique is a hero to both the human and mutant community. It’s not something she necessarily wants – and she is still fighting for mutant rights – but she is no longer angry at humans. She becomes the Captain America of the X-Men, leading the team and telling them to embrace their abilities so they can defeat the evil. Lawrence has continually given this character enormous depth and meaning, and by making her the mutant champion, instead of an enemy, she shines.

Step 4: Hear Charles and Magneto debate the same thing. Charles has taken the time between their last encounter to build his school and teach the young mutants, and while McAvoy continues to play it brilliantly, giving small glimpses of the Patrick Stewart older man he’ll become, he has less impact in Apocalypse than he did the previous installments. The actor is actually kind of wasted in this, and manages to mostly sit around, dictating, reacting – and having the same argument with Erik over using their abilities for good to help humans, rather than harm them. Yawn. It doesn’t do McAvoy justice, especially since he’s given so much life to the role. We do see, however, how he becomes bald (and it’s not just a hair preference).

On the flip side, Magneto is a wanted man in Apocalypse for his evil deeds in Days of Future Past, but he has tried desperately to shed that persona and live a normal life. Without giving anything away, a set of circumstances turns Erik back into his vengeful Magneto once again, now just ripe for the picking by Apocalypse. While this also just seems repetitive, Fassbender continues to be the most fascinating player in this “new generation,” showing just how tortured Erik really is from all the horrors of his past. That’s why we can never completely hate Magneto for his actions (and we feel similarly for Ian McKellan’s older version) because we’ll always ultimately felt empathy for him – even when he’s tearing up the world.

Step 5: Follow Quicksilver and Wolverine. Evan Peters simply wins as Quicksilver. Period. There’s no way Age of Ultron‘s Aaron Taylor-Johnson had a chance to outdo Peters’ interpretation of the Marvel character, especially after his debut in Days of Future Past, so it’s probably best they killed Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver off. In Apocalypse, Peters once again shines as Quicksilver, doing his schtick (and saving a bunch of mutant kids from a bomb blast), stealing every scene he is in. And now that he knows he is Magneto’s son, this should be interesting in upcoming X-Men movies. And it’s no secret Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine makes an appearance in Apocalypse (because it’s in the trailers), but the way he does it is so completely awesome, you’ll definitely cheer when he shows up. Hint: It does have something to do with Col. William Stryker (Josh Helman) – remember, he’s the government guy who turned Wolverine’s claws into iron.

Step 6: Yawn at the villains. Isaac has the unenviable task of bringing the first mutant ever to life, but like McAvoy, he’s wasted, weighted down by all that brooding mutant elitism – and that prosthetic makeup. Apocalypse just isn’t compelling and there’s nothing new Isaac brings to the table. Same goes with two of his Four Horseman (excluding Storm and Magneto). While Munn looks kickass as Psylocke, she really only has one fight scene to speak off, while Hardy has no chance to give Angel any sort of depth, although he, too, looks fierce. This is a big missed opportunity to elevate standard comic-book bad guys.

Step 7: Praise Jean Grey. Along with Magneto and Wolverine, Jean Grey has always been one of the most compelling figures in the X-Men universe – the one mutant who truly has enough power to either rule them all or wipe them out. Famke Janssen will always have the credit of being the first Jean and for making an indelible impression, but Sophie Turner may have outdone her as the younger version. The Game of Thrones star proves she’s a real badass and has probably the most spectacular scene in the whole film when she takes on Apocalypse. It shows shades of the Dark Phoenix, but one wonders if her future, in which she does become evil, will now be changed by the altered timeline.

As for the other newbies, Sheridan does a nice job as the young Scott, trying to control those laser beam eyes while also falling for the older Jean, while Shipp gives us a whole new take on Storm. Did you know Ororo Munroe was Egyptian? I sure didn’t, but if Halle Berry ever has a chance to play Storm again, Shipp gives her lots to work with. The standout, though, is Smit-McPhee as the sweet-natured and religious Kurt, with his wide-eyed innocence and willingness to do teenager things. Again, his future has been skewed (remember in X2, he is under Magneto’s control), and now he is part of the X-Men team.

Step 8: How Bryan Singer handles it. The director absolutely understands this X-Men universe backwards and forwards, and does a wonderful job in keeping things familiar and relevant to all the characters. But where he fails in Apocalypse is in trying to give us something new and different. The film feels like a retread, with little propelling the story forward. Perhaps that’s the intent, a way to herald in the new generation of X-Men that we were first introduced to in the 2000 X-Men, but it feels lazy, in its execution and bloated action sequences. But he seamlessly blends all those great characters together, which allows X-Men fans to to look past the shortcomings and have fun with Apocalypse nonetheless.

How to Watch: “The Nice Guys”

Nice Guys

Step 1: Have fun. From the mind of writer/director Shane Black, The Nice Guys is just pure wackiness all the way through – a straight-up crime mystery filled with hilarious antics and plenty of violence. A perfect addition to the summer movie roster.

Step 2: Set it in Los Angeles in 1977. The premise revolves around Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a former cop who now works independently as the guy you hire to rough someone up. When he takes a job from Amelia (Margaret Qualley), a young woman who wants him to stop some guys following her, Jackson meets (and beats up) Holland March (Ryan Gosling). March is a down-on-his-luck private detective dealing with some personal issues like the loss of his wife and trying to take care of his precocious 13-year-old daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice). But a turn of events forces Holland and Jackson to work together to try to find a now-missing Amelia and solve the mystery involving Amelia’s porn flick and why everyone associated with it are being killed.

Step 3: Find the new onscreen duo. Evident from all the trailers and promotional appearances (like the hilarious videos of the actors seeking couples therapy), Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe together are what sell this movie. Their chemistry is palpable onscreen, and the two simply click in this Shane Black-created milieu. Although he did do a few early on his native Australia, Crowe is definitely not who you think of when you think comedy. And to be fair, he’s not the balls-out comedic performer in The Nice Guys, either, but he is a perfect straight man, an always underrated component of a great comedic onscreen duo. It’s the reactions that count, and Crowe nails it. So yes, it’s Gosling who shines as the funny guy, which isn’t all that surprising since he’s done films like Crazy, Stupid, Love. and The Big Short. What is surprising, however, is how well Gosling handles the physical comedy in Nice Guys. He gets beat up, shot at and pratfalls like the best of them. Seriously, if they play their cards right, Crowe and Gosling could be another great Abbott and Costello.

Step 4: Oh, and hire a really savvy teenager. As the smart-as-a-whip Holly, Rice very nearly steals the show from her two co-stars. She shows an uncanny comedic sense while also making it seem entirely plausible that Holly would be just as good at being a private eye. Also, Holly finds herself in some situations no normal 13-year-old would be in but is, naturally, the level-headed one who tries to set her falling-apart-at-the-seams father on the right path. The “wise kid raising the parent” isn’t a new concept, but Rice does a nice job keeping it fresh. Look out for this young Australian actress – she’s going places.

Step 5: Be thankful L.A. doesn’t look like that anymore. The Nice Guys locale is a key player in the film, showing that gritty, smog-filled side of Los Angeles in the 1970s. From the dilapidated Hollywood Sign, to the crowded freeways, to the growing porn industry, director Shane Black really paints a nice thin, dirty feel to the whole thing, which completely complements the action. But there is also some beauty to the film, a clear love letter to L.A. and the promise of how gorgeous the City of Angels will become – once all the smog is cleared out.

Step 6: Get Shane Black. The once wunderkid, whose sale of his first script, Lethal Weapon, is one of those legendary Hollywood stories. The classic 1987 buddy-cop script was one of the first to benefit from a “bidding-war” situation between studios, creating a heyday for screenwriters in the ’80s and ’90s. While it’s much different now with how movie scripts are sold, Black has proven he was not a one-hit wonder, especially with his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005. The Nice Guys follows along the same lines, mixing genres and creating something that feels familiar but is still unique.

There are some plot holes in the film, mostly revolving around Kim Basinger’s role as Amelia’s mother (who definitely needed more screen time) and her job as the “head of the justice department,” investigating the auto industry and the smog emission problem that plagued Los Angeles in the ’70s, but you’re willing to overlook it because the characterizations and the dialogue are all so spot-on. This crime comedy milieu is really Black’s forte, and let’s hope he keeps making them.