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Quick Take: Star Trek Beyond & Lights Out

Two new mini movie reviews today as I take on two genre films. The biggest film out this week is the third entry in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, Star Trek Beyond and the second is a modest horror flick with a simple premise called Lights Out. Both have been pretty well received by critics lately, but since I don't seem to be trusting critics this year I had to see them for myself to judge.

Back when The Force Awakens was announced I realllllly wanted JJ Abrams to be stolen away from Star Trek because I truly believed he was the man for taking on George Lucas's beloved saga. Some will think he was, but boy I couldn't be sadder that things went that way now with what happened with both franchises. JJ had a camaraderie with that cast and his directing of them felt effortless and in the early scenes of Beyond something just feels off. Some of the chemistry feels like it's missing. It took me a long time to really get into the movie. I couldn't tell where things were going for a good while, and then once they happened it didn't feel earned. Eventually, I had to just let that go and enjoy the ride. And as always, Star Trek is a fun ride.

Honestly, I'll never hate on one of these rebooted Star Trek films because it's just a fun universe to visit and solid characters to spend time with. The world building here was so much more impressive than the film JJ left Trek for. Instead of recycled worlds, our eyes are treated to something new which was half of the fun. And for a film in its genre of sci-fi adventure, it's really as fun and as popcorn as it can be. One more thing I ought to mention is that the late Anton Yelchin has a bigger role this time around than perhaps in any of the other films and he was as wonderful as always. Made me miss him even more. Anyways, there's not a ton of substance to this film, which easily makes it my least favorite of the trilogy...but I can still appreciate it on its own terms. RATING: 7.5/10

Anyone well acquainted with me or this site KNOWS I love a good horror flick. I heard many conflicting reports about Lights Out before seeing it. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were all fresh and the IMDb user score was still pretty high. Could it be the next great horror film? Or did it deserve the hate that local critics seemed preconceived to having before seeing it? The answer for me is somewhere in wasn't a great horror film, but I had fun with it. And I certainly didn't think it was awful. (Side note: if you want to see a truly awful horror film made this year check out The Darkness immediately.)

The film is incredibly short, and as such, some things definitely tend to be a little rushed. The investigation into the entity (real or paranormal) that haunts them is thrown together and you certainly leave the film scratching your head a little at some of the plot holes. The performances aren't amazing and the creature probably could have used a little more work in how she looked (a little too Mama CGI for my taste.) The film breaks a lot of its own rules, but in the second half, you really won't mind because it's just a lot of fun. The filmmakers took a simple premise (a creature that can only appear when it's dark) and surprisingly was able to do a lot with it. RATING: 6.5/10

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