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Star Trek sucks. There, I said it. I’ve never been a fan, never really ‘got’ the whole vibe of the show and so it’s far to say that I really don’t understand the fanaticism that surrounds it. But then I don’t really understand why anyone would want to dress up as a Dalek StormTrooper Bajoran and go out and spend a weekend wandering round a lifeless conference centre with other fans.

Yet still I found myself watching the opening scenes of the latest Star Trek movie in the hope that it would prove me wrong, that this particular universe was one worth getting to know. Having seen the original TV show a few times, I had half a mind what to expect and given that JJ Abrams was at the helm I knew, if nothing else, that it would be slick and funny if nothing else.

A couple of hours later I left the movie with a big smile on my face. What a blast!

First things first, the choice of actors/accents. I think that, overall, the visual and vocal similarities to the original characters was spot on. Without losing the new actor within them, each gave a nice portrayal that gave a respectful nod to the original character. Quite a hard thing to do and whilst it didn’t always hit the mark, I think it was a nice homage.

The plot of the movie is fairly straightforward, with time travel being the main device in play. You are, of course, being introduced to Capt. Kirk, Bones, Spock, Scotty and all the others for the ‘first time’ and there were no real surprises. It’s not really about character development though, it’s about how the crew of the Starship Enterprise ended up together. No spoilers from me though.

Overall this is a big summer blockbuster movie, set in space. The fact it’s about Star Trek makes it somewhat familiar but don’t let it put you off, like me, you need no nothing about the particulars of this universe to enjoy the movie. And you should enjoy it. It’s smart enough with being complicated, well paced, the dialogue is crisp and funny, and there is a huge sense of fun about everything.

Definitely one to see if you are in the mood for a nice big sci-fi blockbuster.

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I’m a big fan of the X-Men series of movies and I’m happy to say that, on the whole, this movie delivered pretty much what you’d expect. It was a big budget, action heavy story with hints of the softer side of the main character.

Not being a huge comic book reader, my bad I know, my knowledge of the various X-Men characters is largely pulled from the cartoon series and various articles read on-line. Couple that with, somehow, being able to avoid most of the trailers for this movie, I went into the cinema with no real idea of what to expect, other than the premise being that the movie would explore how Wolverine became the shiny clawed, sarcastic and bitter fighting machine that we all know (and secretly want to be).

I’d never really considered Wolverine as anything other than a mutant with adamantium claws so the opening montage, of Logan and his brother, ravaging their way through several wars helped fill out the realities of the character and his mutant powers. All of which was really little more than filler, of course, before we get to the modern day and the action heats up.

Long story short, Logan joins up a unit of mutants carrying out covert military operations, but soon things get out of hand and, with his brother the main protagonist, Logan decides he’s had enough and disappears. Cut to idyllic new life as a lumberjack, a sexy girlfriend, and a cabin in the wilderness.

Then cut to rather obvious murdering of said girlfriend to lure him back into the fold and, using his rage, getting him to agree to be injected with said shiny metal. With that done and an almost indestructable mutant created, all hell breaks loose. There are some twists and turns but nothing you can’t predict but hey, this isn’t a movie about being clever. This is a movie about action, fighting and mutant super powers.

And boy does it deliver on that front! One of the closing fight scenes is a high paced, mutant powered delight. In fact all of the fight scenes, from start to finish, are carried off with aplomb, the special effects mixing perfectly into the scene. Which makes some of the closing effects, simple ones like overlaying a group of mutant kids onto a backdrop of a forest, for instance, bafflingly bad.

However that’s a minor glitch in a movie which moves along fast enough to keep you engrossed, has some genuinely funny moments, and which delivers what it promises by the bucketload.

My only other complaint is one similar to the other X-Men movies, barring X-Men 3, in that you are suddenly presented with several mutants at once and don’t really get a chance to see them in action. But I guess that’s greedy of me, as there is plenty to see here. In what looks like it’s going to be a summer filled with blockbuster action movies (Transformers 2 & Terminator Chronicles to name two), Wolverine gets the balling roll big time.

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I always enjoy movies that take a little care to be different and don’t pander to or ‘feed’ the audience too much. Vantage Point manages all this whilst remaining a fairly standard Hollywood blockbuster type movie. The story of a Presidential assasination is played out from several different viewpoints, each one giving us a different view and a little more information as to what is going on. The grizzled veteran bodyguard, the American tourist who gets caught in the middle of the story, to the President himself, each section reveals another twist in the tale before it’s all finally pulled together in a frantic closing section.

Given the restrictions of this method, I was surprised at how well the characters and storyline are slowly filled out. Admittedly there isn’t much room for the actors to be anything other than competent (Sigourney Weaver probably wrapped her entire sessions in a few days), but the assembled cast is experienced enough to give reasonable performances that sit well with the framework of the movie, even if some of the scenes become a little far-fetched (there is a little too much "American pride" at work here on occasion).

Despite the repetition, the pace of the opening sections remains high and as you aren’t being spoonfed too much, you are constantly scanning the screen for information. I’m not sure exactly how many takes each scene took, but there had to be multiple units shooting different people at the same time as you can see characters in the background of some shots that certainly don’t look like they’ve been re-shot.

Of course it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a Hollywood blockbuster, so whilst the style and execution of the movie is well handled, the story is a little predictable. Still, I consider the suspension of disbelief to be an essential part of the cinema going experience and if you like a good distraction then I’d happily recommened Vantage Point.

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It’s been a while since I posted about Firefox but as it’s just crashed through the 24 million downloads mark, and has increased it’s browser share AGAIN I thought it was reasonable time to look back over the past year of using Firefox and see how, if at all, it has changed my browsing habits.

Blimey, I’ve been using Firefox for an entire year, how time flies!

The main and most obvious change to my browsing habits has been my ready adoptation of tabbed browsing. It’s now an integral part of my browsing technique (for want of a better term) and, coupled with an extension that remembers what tabs were open the last time I closed the browser, I find I rarely have to bookmark anything of interest any more. Instead I can open the sites in a new browser tab, and if I don’t get around to checking them out they will be re-opened the next time I start Firefox. Note that this cycle may repeat for up to a week, and has certainly been a key factor in improving my online information management.

Whether it’s articles of note, to do (Ta Da) lists, or just silly email links, I just open them in a new tab and get to them when I’m ready. Did someone mention an interesting book at lunch? A quick Amazon search in a new tab and it’ll sit there until I either order it, or add it to my wishlist (which itself sits open in another tab, just in case). Ohh and that “quick Amazon search” is also something I should mention.

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Took some time out tonight to head to the cinema to catch Howard Hughes story, The Aviator. Jolly good it was too (as Katharine was wont to say). The acting is delivered well, the pacing whilst slow in places pulls you through the movie at a comfortable speed and the whole thing just felt very very well done.

Almost in tribute to the perfectionist that Hughes was, the joy here is in the detail. The visual impact of the movie is well handled – moving from two tone Technicolor at the start through to full colour towards the end – as is the sound – the sequence when Hughes is eating lunch with Senator Brewster is aurally enough to make me slightly repulsed as Hughes is – and the special effects are so well handled that, for possibly the first time in a movie, I easily accepted them into the flow of the movie (I think that is a sign that whilst the eye can still tell when special effects are being used, we are becoming more accustomed to them and don’t jar as much as we used to… maybe).

Nominated for 11 Oscars and from what I could see they all deserve the nomination, particularly for Best Director and Best Cinematography. They might not all deserve to win one, mind you, but this is very much a film that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Won’t be for everyone but if you enjoy a well made movie, catch this one.

Film details from IMDB.

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