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The World’s End (2013)

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The “Cornetto” trilogy has always been about humour, heart, and homage. And even though it’s been six long years since we last visited a quirky, enthralling, and action-packed world created by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright…”The World’s End” was well worth the wait. That being said, the fact that Pegg, Wright, and company were able to pull it off is no surprise at all. It’s simply a rarity for a trilogy to be so evenly brilliant, so skepticism is understandable. Nevertheless, “The World’s End” is a fitting conclusion to such a fantastical series. Undoubtedly, it’s sad to see one of the most critically and all-around successful trilogies come to a close…but much like our way of life, nothing lasts forever. “The World’s End” is a superlative finale to a near-perfect trilogy and while not as strong as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it isn’t far off…

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Gary King (Pegg) is somewhat of a low-life and a borderline alcoholic. One day, having been reminded of his youth and happier times. Gary sets out to track down his old friends in order to convince them to complete a pub crawl they all failed to accomplish when they were younger. Upon successfully persuading Peter (Marsen), O-Man (Freeman), Steven (Considine), and Andy (Frost) to accompany him on this idiotic journey, the crew head back to their hometown of Newton Haven. After the group finishes up the first few pints, they begin to realize that something is amiss. However, deciding to carry on, Gary and his pals soon come to terms that this night will not go as originally planned.

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For all of it’s playful hilarity and jaw-dropping action, I don’t think the public expected “The World’s End” to be so decidedly earnest, disheartening, and tragic. Without question, it’s the most serious and honest chapter of the trilogy. After removing layer upon layer of relatable fears and experiences, such as dissipating youth and failed relationships, not to mention the triviality and flaws of the human race. It’s quite upsetting to realize how deep and truthful this satirical, bittersweet rabbit hole is. No matter how disingenuous and unfazed this group of pub-crawlers appears to be facing down their impending doom, they reek of mortality, mistakes, vulnerability, and imperfection. That being said, the final confrontation, themes, and the film as a whole is funny and unforgettable. Yet resonates a harsh, inevitable wake-up call.

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Perhaps the most important thing about “The World’s End” is that it didn’t let the previous entries down. Granted, it is somewhat a blend of the first two entries, brandishing similar plot points and themes. In addition, the premises and specific style of the “Cornetto” trilogy is becoming a bit stale and a tad bit predictable. That being said, “The World’s End’s” candidness, fresh comedy, and fast-paced violence is enough to differentiate it from the others. Each entry carries its own merit and traits that make them like no other. It feels like the right time for Wright and company to move on and bring to fruition their bright, limitless futures. With the “Cornetto” trilogy, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright have created something that is truly invaluable, priceless… They should take unmeasurable pride in what they have accomplished.

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Without question, Edgar Wright is the most responsible for the triumph of not only “The World’s End,” but the “Cornetto” trilogy as a whole. His refusal to make pictures inside the norm is easily the most promising aspect of his career thus far and is what makes this trilogy so utterly brilliant. Wright continues to employ a Guy Ritchie-esque style melded with his unwavering, youthful wonder and cinephile heart. Essentially, this is what makes Wright’s films so intoxicating and enjoyable. But more importantly, what sets him apart as a filmmaker is the passion and humbleness in which he derives vision and creativity. He conjures up films that he, as a cinephile would cherish, which is the reason he is so respected and relevant to movie lovers every where. Sure, things might get a little hectic here and there, especially when your filming a battle to save all mankind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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One thing that no one will ever accuse the “Cornetto” trilogy of having is shallow ensembles. And with “The World’s End,” we are treated to much of the same. Starring the exuberant, trustworthy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, a wonderful supporting cast that features Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsen, in addition to a plethora of brief cameos. “The World’s End” arguably contains the strongest cast in the trilogy. Freeman is sort of the unsung star of the group, having landed the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy. He continues to provide evidence as to why he earned the job in the first place and apart from his reprising role on “Sherlock,” Freeman has never been better. Marsen and Considine, both severely underused in the business today, have an undeniable comedic charisma that is on full display in “The World’s End” and will hopefully garner them the attention they deserve.

As predicted, it’s Pegg and Frost who take the reigns of this fantastic adventure, with one significant change. Nick Frost is the responsible, sensible wet blanket, well, for as long as he can muster it anyhow and Simon Pegg is the  idiotic, chaotic friend, who isn’t really much of a pal at all. Now, aside from the closing of the trilogy, the biggest tragedy here is the disconcerting underuse and lack of acknowledgement from filmmakers everywhere towards Frost. Who, continues to be an under-appreciated talent and arguably gives the performance of his career in “The World’s End.” As for Pegg, who’s chagrin, heedless, and selfish performance is unfathomably effective. Pegg, who has gone on to star in several big-budget blockbusters, makes a fortuitous return to his humble beginnings and certainly adds another invaluable notch to his already stellar repertoire.

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Just a brief shout-out to Alice Lowe, Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Bill Nighly, and Steve Oram for their brief, but memorable roles in “The World’s End.” It’s nice to see Wright give a little extra screen time to the great, up-and-coming filmmakers for, his homeland.

Funny, heartfelt, and all-around awesome. “The World’s End” is the closing chapter die-hard “Cornetto” fans and cinephiles were hoping for and so much more.

The World’s End: 9 out of 10.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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It may not be as innovative or complex as its predecessor. Yet, Star Trek Into Darkness bursts forth with a renewed source of ambition and on the shoulders of the Enterprise’s crew, successfully tackles nostalgia with a fresh, brooding twist. Capturing the wonder of space, jaw-dropping action sequences, and spectacular performances from the entire cast. Abrams and company follow up 2009’s franchise resurrection with another inconceivably epic entry into the Star Trek universe. Playing out the mystery and anticipation to full effect, Star Trek Into Darkness is bigger, louder, and surprisingly more heartfelt. Blending the perfect amount of sentiment, hilarity, and bone-snapping (reference) hand-to-hand combat, Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t miss a beat. If the time since 2009’s smash hit has left a bit of a void in your life. Star Trek Into Darkness is sure to satisfy your Trekkie addiction, die-hard enthusiast or not.

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Upon returning from a mission, the crew of the Enterprise isn’t allowed much time to rest as rogue Starfleet agent turned terrorist, John Harrison (Cumberbatch) bombs a Starfleet base in London. When Harrison flees Earth and retreats to a distant planet, Kirk (Pine) and the Enterprise are commissioned to hunt him down using any means necessary. Eventually finding Harrison on a abandoned planet, the Enterprise and its crew is attacked. Barely escaping with their lives, the crew is soon face to face with Harrison and a slew of difficult decisions that Kirk and company struggle to make.

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While the primary goal of 2009’s Star Trek was to reintroduce this timeless sci-fi tale to the modern viewer, by and large. Nonetheless, the reboot was more of a rebirthing for the exceedingly long-running saga (not that I am complaining). Now, with Into Darkness, Abrams is definitely paying more of an homage to the original series that seems to set its sights on appeasing the fans of old, like myself. Coincidentally, Star Trek Into Darkness deals with more mature content as its predecessor felt more directed into pleasing a wider variety of viewers. To the dismay of Trekkies all over the world, Abrams decided to keep the villain’s identity heavily under wraps. If you happened to watch any publicity for the film, such as late night talk shows, you’d know that this secret was as vigilantly guarded as some nuclear missile silos. That being said, I fully agree with the decision as it significantly affects the storyline.

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Regardless of the fact that Into Darkness isn’t as encompassing to the rules and regulations of physics and space, particularly bending them as 2009’s entry so brilliantly did. Into Darkness fixates more on the universe created by the original series and exploiting our fascination with it, as lovingly as one can. Now, dealing with these facets is sure to alienate those unfamiliar with their origin. However, it should initiate a sense of eagerness to explore Star Trek’s storied history for those who don’t have the knowledge and gives a chance for those who do an excuse to revisit.

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Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of Into Darkness is the story’s growth even though there has been a four year absence. When the film begins, the audience becomes aware. We are somewhere down the road now, we’ve missed something and there is this yearning to catch up. To see the empire that is Star Trek move forward and evolve is refreshingly reassuring. J. J. Abrams  singles out each member of the Enterprise’s crew, giving more scree time to each individual and digging deeper into the emotions and heart that drives them, even Cumberbatch’s character.

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In addition to the original crew that consists of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Simon Pegg. Into Darkness adds Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Peter Weller to StarFleet…Even though each actor brings their own charisma, motivations, and vulnerability to their individual roles, there is no denying that there is only three leads amongst them, Pine, Cumberbatch, and Quinto. That being said, like any good starship, Into Darkness would be rendered useless without its crew, and this crew substantially upped their game.

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Cho, Saldana, and Pegg are all fortunate recipients of increased screen time and added emotional character depth. Cho grows into a firm and steady stance, earning respect and parting ways with his comical errors from 2009’s Star Trek. Pegg and Saldana’s roles, or lack there of in Star Trek has been dealt with. Taking full advantage of the emotional intensity in their roles to showcase their diverse talents. While Greenwood’s role is somewhat diminished, he arguably gives a stronger performance. Yelchin and Urban’s importance remain unchanged except for the addition of a plethora of one liners you can’t help but laugh at. As for the new recruits, Eve and Weller make for interesting and formidable additions. Eve’s role, ripe with potent sexiness and cute arguments with Spock, is so much more. Playing the sweet, intelligent love interest of Kirk, Eve takes no nonsense. Finally, Weller’s objective remained a mirage throughout Into Darkness’s publicity, but storms in with chaotic indifference. As brash and toxic as ever, Weller is quite the surprise.

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As masterful, endearing, and exhilarating the supporting casts performances may be. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto are light-years ahead. Let’s star with Pine, who’s face now permanently comes to mind when anyone mentions the name Kirk. Undoubtedly, Into Darkness contains Pine’s most involved, mature, heavy-hearted, and overall best performance to date. I can think of no one better to have taken over the chair. Quinto is quite the anomaly. He so elegantly, actually perfectly captures the essence that is Spock. His heartless, emotionless, and vastly superior intellect are mere surface qualities and Quinto knows this well, diving so deep into his soul that it leaves his exterior vacant. Now, where to begin with the immaculate Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t think it is possibly for this man to do any wrong. With every role, he completely immerses himself and disappears into his characters skin, Into Darkness is no exception. Exuding every emotion necessary with pin-point precision, Cumberbatch gives one of the best villain performances in cinematic history.

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Flawlessly acted, impeccably directed, and visually spectacular. The sheer immensity and heart of Star Trek Into Darkness is enough to give you shivers.

Star Trek Into Darkness: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

All right, now, not to be confused with last week’s “Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted.” This week’s Top 10 will consist of the 10 most wanted films set for release in 2013. Judged by budget, publicity, and overall excitement stemming from the general public, this Top 10 will feature, in a general sense, crowd pleasers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Honourable Mentions: Anchorman 2, Monsters University, The Wolverine, Elysium, Sin City 2, Kick Ass 2, Evil Dead.

10: Thor: The Dark World. The hotly anticipated follow up to 2011’s smash hit Thor. This soon to be blockbuster stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.

9: The Great Gatsby. From visionary director Baz Luhrmann and starring a plethora of stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan. and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby seems primed for stardom.

8: The Green Inferno, V/H/S 2, and The Conjuring. This is for all of you who need your horror fix, a lot like us. Coming from modern horror master such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Adam Wingard. This trio of frightening delights is sure to leave your pants wet and in need of a wash.

The Conjuring Trailer:

V/H/S 2 Trailer:

The Green Inferno: First official picture.

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7: This is the End and The World’s End. Here to get you prepared for the apocalypse are these two doomsday comedies. Brought to you by the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Also starring Martin Freeman, The World’s End looks like to become another cult favourite. As for This is the End, starring a multitude of comedies best such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill. This hilarious heavyweight film should be interesting to say the least.

This is the End: Red Band Trailer.

The World’s End:

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6: World War Z. Brad Pitt, Zombies, and based off of Max Brooks highly addicting novel, need I say more?

5: Iron Man 3. The Third entry into the Iron Man trilogy. It features an army of iron men and Ben Kingsley as a villain. Your argument is invalid.

4: Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Idris Elba. This monster vs man picture features the use of gigantic robots controlled by humans battling humongous aliens, I’m sold.

3: Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Shannon as General Zod. Man of Steel is the highly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise.

2: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The follow up to An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s The Desolation of Smaug should be a much improved film and appease those disappointed by the first.

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1: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have nothing to say, I am beyond words with anticipation. Just enjoy the trailer.

Star Trek (2009)

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Being able to draw fresh blood to the franchise while still appeasing those who practically have Starfleet emblems burned into their skin like birthmarks would appear daunting to say the least. Well, it just so happens that J.J Abrams put quite the strangle hold on the long running saga, revived it, breathed new life into it. A re-imagining that astonished and reached vast across the universe as an intelligent, undeniable virus that infected Trekkies new and old alike. While the effects and intricate plot provide the majority of its wonder. The real achievement is the development and portrayal of its familiar characters that is truly awe inspiring. Star Trek’s three leads Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Eric Bana, as well as the supporting cast are a revelation. With an all star cast and a story so elaborate, Abrams and company boldly go where no man has gone before.

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The first shots profile the early years of James Kirk (Pine) from birth to his enrolment in Starfleet. Kirk’s father George (Hemsworth) was killed in a final stand against a rogue time traveling ship looking for Spock Prime (Nimoy). Around this time, a young Vulcan named Spock (Quinto) is torn between his heritage that is split with humanity. Roughly twenty-five years later, Kirk is challenged by Christopher Pike (Greenwood) to best his father by joining Starfleet to become captain of his own ship. When the Enterprise is called into action some time later, its crew is thrust into a battle to save Earth from Nero (Bana). With the help of Scotty (Pegg), Uhura (Saldana), Sulu (Cho), Chekov (Yelchin), and Bones (Urban). Kirk and Spock must set aside their differences to rescue Captain Pike and prevent Earth from being destroyed.

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Woven in coexisting timelines and protruding from singularities. The Enterprise and cast find that nothing is improbable and everything is relevant. As complex as it is personal, Abrams Star Trek is a rebirthing. It possesses the nostalgia and intellect to remain embedded in enthusiasts hearts while its modern appearance and script is enough to bolster a fresh fan base. With the previous chapters in the film series, the brains were always present but there was a significant drop off when it came to the emotional depth. Abrams Star Trek sacrifices nothing, paying close attention to every detail. Eric Bana is diabolical as Nero. A villain powered by loss and revenge, Bana comes through emotionally and viciously. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood comprise the crew of the Enterprise, each more impressive than the last. Rounding out Star Trek’s all star cast is Leonard Nimoy, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, and Jennifer Morrison.
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If you’re thinking this reboot is comprised of the old Star Trek series and films, you’re probably running through the list of stereotypes. It’s for sci-fi nerds, boring, and in the case of the original series, visually abominating. This is not the case with this new, heavenly spawn. The visual effects are rivalled by none. There is no idiotic costume designs, shaky acting, or irrelevant, embellished story lines.  Star Trek has the brains, the performances, and the cosmic mass. Overall, it is beyond stellar across the board.
Star Trek: 9 out of 10.