Weekend Roundup: Five Minutes of Heaven and JJ Abram’s Star Trek

I hope y’all had a lovely and storm-free (weather or otherwise) weekend. Boy, the weather’s been strange this weekend, it couldn’t decide whether it wants to be rainy or sunny, so it alternated back and forth practically every half an hour! There’s even some strong storms hitting our neck of the woods, even a tornado touched down last night about 20 miles north of my house! I think some people in North Minneapolis are still without power now, man it certainly makes me feel blessed to wake up with a roof over my head.

Hemsworth as George Kirk

Well, we had planned to see Thor again on Saturday with some friends but didn’t end up going. We did see a Chris Hemsworth movie though, JJ Abram’s Star Trek, well he’s got a much smaller part in it as Capt. Kirk’s heroic dad.

Apparently the latest Pirates of the Carribean movie ruled box office again. I actually had the [dis]pleasure of seeing the last installment before this one, can’t remember what it’s called, it was playing on TV when we were at our friend’s house. It is mind-boggling to me how this movie could be such a smashing success. There’s sooo much going on but yet there is very little story, let alone character development. Things seem to be happening at random for no apparent reason and by the end of it, we all just looked at each other and said, ‘just what in the world was all of that all about?’ It was utter rubbish I’d say, Johnny Depp was the only saving grace as Jack Sparrow, but still not enough to make it bearable.

Anyway, now on to the two real good movies I did see this weekend:

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

When I saw this description on Netflix, I was immediately intrigued to add it to my queue:

A powerful meditation on guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation, this potent drama stars Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt as two men on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political struggle: one a killer, the other the brother of the man he killed. In crafting his keenly sensitive film, director Oliver Hirschbiegel eschews the predictable to deliver a work of tremendous insight and emotional complexity.

It’s a relatively short film, clocking in at 89 minutes, but man does it pack an emotional punch! The film starts out in flashback mode of the two main characters in a small town in Ireland at the height of the region’s civil war. They’re at the opposite end of the spectrum and one fateful night, their path is about to cross in the most tragic ways. It’s an amazingly effective set up to the scenario we see decades later, the day when  the two now grown-up men are about to face one another.

Both Neeson and Nesbitt are fantastic in this character-driven drama. Neeson as Alistair (speaking in his native Irish brogue) is a picture of inner turmoil – he may seem calm and composed but inside he’s a wreck, forever tormented by the sin he committed decades earlier. Nesbitt’s Joe Griffin is the same way, as his mother somehow blamed him for his brother’s death, he carried that insurmountable guilt with him all his life. There are so much emotions going on in the scenes leading up to their meeting, but amazingly, despite the nail-biting intensity, there are still elements of humor infused in them. There are so many mixed emotions you don’t know whether to laugh or cry at times, but throughout you really feel the anguish of both of them.

I really appreciate the poignant message against violence and terrorism. Alistair confesses repeatedly during his counseling sessions that it’s not only the victim who suffer greatly from the ordeal, but the perpetrator is also forever scarred by it and the psychological toll can be unbearable. And revenge isn’t the answer either… “My five minutes of heaven, how can that not be good for me?!” Griffin screamed, rationalizing his vengeful plan. But the filmmaker wants us to think that only through letting go, and perhaps even forgiveness, that one can achieve inner peace.

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Star Trek (2009)

The crew of SS Enterprise

When I saw this at the theater, I remember how much I really enjoyed it. I’m not a Trekkie mind you, so I don’t know all the details about any of the characters other than knowing the names of the actors who played Capt. Kirk and Spock in the original TV series. So it’s a good thing this JJ Abrams’ feature film is an origins story, going back to the history of the USS Enterprise’s crews and how they got there.

The original and the new Spock

And what an entertaining journey it is! Much like X-Men: First Class where there are many characters involved but the main story really boils down to Professor X and Magneto, the story here is centers on the relationship between Kirk and Spock. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are both perfectly cast as the eventual BFF. Pine has the wit, swagger and rebellious streak as the inherently smug but lovable Kirk, whilst Quinto is appropriately calm and unruffled as the ultra-intelligent half Vulcan/half human who feels trapped between the two worlds. The exchange between the two characters are the highlights of the movie, including the Leonard Nimoy as the elder Spock. (Thanks to Gowiththeflow blog for the two Spocks photo)

But just like any massive ship, it can only function properly when all the crews does its job well. Abrams runs a tight ship with this movie, the ensemble cast work nicely together and make for an exceptional team. My favorite New Zealander Karl Urban is awesome as the amusingly grumpy Dr. McCoy, his screen presence is undeniable, more than capable for more leading man roles. I like Zoe Saldana as Uhura as well, she’s definitely got the ‘it’ factor and has the sex appeal without looking like a bimbo. Oh, and Bruce Greenwood as the wise Capt. Pike is wonderful as well, he is a great character actor whose presence is always welcomed in any movie. Eric Bana is unrecognizable as the villain, playing a Romulan creature with a personal vendetta against the Vulcans and humans. He was decent, but he doesn’t seem menacing enough. Simon Pegg also does a memorable turn as Scotty, he might have overdone his Scottish accent a bit but still his bit parts are a hoot.

This movie is massively entertaining from start to finish, just don’t think too much about the plot. It’s technically impressive as well, no wonder it nabbed four Oscar nominations including sound editing and visual effects (it deservedly won an Oscar for Best Makeup). I’d think this movie would satisfy any Trekkie out there. Even I get a bit giddy when Spock did the Vulcan salute and said, ‘Live long and prosper.’

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So what movies did you watch this weekend? If you’ve seen either one of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

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38 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Five Minutes of Heaven and JJ Abram’s Star Trek

  1. Hooray 4/5 for Star Trek! I really did like it! and just heard about some of the details for the 2nd one. Rumor now has it that Romulans will be making quite the stir and that drafts appear to be complete! Can’t wait!

    1. Oh, there’s a sequel in the works? I didn’t know that. I don’t mind seeing it, but too bad Eric Bana’s dead so he won’t be back, ahah. But hey, there’s still Karl Urban 😀

  2. Haven’t seen Five Minutes of Heaven, but did see Star Trek. I’m not exactly a Trekkie, however I absolutely loved this movie. Would give it 4/5 too – great acting and great fun. I watched the cult comedy An American Werewolf in London over the weekend, absolutely hilarious:)

    1. Hi Olive! I think as you’re from Ireland, ‘Five Minutes’ might resonate a great deal with you. It really is a well-thought-out film and incredibly well-acted as well.

      Oh I haven’t seen that werewolf one, I should check it out. It’s hilarious? I didn’t know it was supposed to be a comedy.

  3. I loved the new Star Trek, was never a fan of the series or the earlier films but loved this modern revamp. Was actually an interesting and half believable interpretation. 5 mins of Heaven sounds good, having lived in Belfast all my life it would be interesting to see and outsider’s interpretation of the troubles. There are so many stories like this to do with the troubles, it is difficult to imagine how this could tell us something different.

    1. Me neither Ronan, I never care for the TV show at all and was a bit reluctant to see this movie. But the great reviews got me curious and fortunately it lived up to the hype.

      I think you’d really appreciate ‘Five Minutes’ as you know more about the history of that conflict than I do. I think the message can be applied universally to all types of violence and terrorism… it really digs deep into the impact of such act would have to all parties involved. It’s probably not the most original interpretation of it, but I like how personal it feels as you truly feel for the characters.

  4. Star Trek was entertaining albeit a bit silly. Yea, Eric Bana is completely unrecognizable! Love when the red shirt dies like a fool and no one even blinks during the jump sequence. I need to see that again 🙂

    1. Well I think the silly-ness is intentional, kind of like Branagh w/ Thor… Abrams really embraced the inherent cheesy-nature of the story. Eric Bana still looks gorgeous even w/ all that tattoos on his face… though his deep voice reminds me a bit of Bale’s Batman, ahah.

  5. Ted S.

    I just watched Inglorious Basterds over the weekend, probably my 100th time watching it, I love that film. I Can’t wait to see Tarantino’s take on a western film, well his version of a western anyway. I got a look at the script, lots of N word and quite bloody and I can’t wait to see. Ha ha.

    I never heard of Five Minutes to Heaven, might give it a rent. As for the new Star Trek, I really enjoyed it. I’m not a Trekkie but I was afraid Abrams might screw up another franchise like he did with M: I-3.

    1. Paula

      The Basterds…one of my very favorite flix EVER 🙂 have seen it nowhere near 100 times tho…probably 2 or 3.

      1. Ted S.

        LOL, yeah I think I’ve seen most of QT’s films at least 100 times or more. I know I lost count on how many times I’ve watched Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1-2 and Reservoir Dogs. Also, I’ve seen some of the films he wrote or co-wrote, True Romance and Crimson Tide, many times. I only saw Death Proof and Jackie Brown once, they’re good but not great. You can call me one of the royal QT fans.

        1. Paula

          i’ve most of them only once, they are pretty violent for me. i know that sounds odd, seeing how much i like IB. Jackie Brown is another of my faves LOL i do think he is an awesome talent so on that much i am fairly certain we agree.

        2. Hey Ted, perhaps you should do a Top 10 Favorite QT movies then… how ’bout that? 🙂

          But I’m w/ Paula… they’re all too violent for my taste. I still haven’t got around to seeing Kill Bill II but if it’s more violent than the first one I don’t think I can stomach it.

          1. Ted S.

            Yeah I can write up my favorite QT films, he’s officially directed 9 films so far. I’ll just his films 1 through 9.

            Oh you should check out Kill Bill 2, it’s way less violent than the first film. In fact, there’s only one truly violent scene in the whole film. It’s actually my favorite of the two films but it’s meant to be one film from the beginning but they decided to cut it half to make more money.

                1. Ted S.

                  True true, I’m still waiting for the release of the Whole Bloody Affair version, QT promised it would come out on BD/DVD soon but that was back in 2007. I wonder how the film will turn out once we see it as one film.

    2. I don’t mind seeing ‘Basterds’ again, which is surprising coming from me. It’s worth seeing just to see Christoph and Fassbender 😀

      Oy I don’t think I’m interesting to see QT’s very bloody Western… I think IB is the maximum amount of violence I can handle as I was so tense watching that I had to take several breaks throughout!

      Y’know, I didn’t think M:I-3 was that terrible. Wasn’t that the one w/ Philip Seymour Hoffman? It’s a heck of a lot better than Knight & Day!

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah Christoph and Fassbender were great in Inglorious Basterds. In the original script, it was even more violent than the film and you find out what happened to Brad Pitt’s neck. If you remember, he has that huge scar on his neck but we never found out why. I don’t know if Tarantino shot the sequence and cut it or if he decided to not shoot it all.

        Well you probably know that he’s pursuing Will Smith for his new western and Christoph will also be in the film too. I can’t wait to see it, hopefully it will come out next year.

        M: I-3 wasn’t awful but I just didn’t like JJ take on it. Yeah that was the one with Hoffman as the villain. Also, the film didn’t have any plot at all, Hoffman kidnapped his protege, he rescued her, she died; Cruise kidnapped Hoffman; Hoffman escaped and kidnapped Cruise’s wife and so on. It just annoyed the heck out of me.

        1. Ted, if you do not mind sharing, I’d love to know what was up with Aldo’s neck. Both my hubby and I wondered about it. if secrecy is a concern, feel free to DM.

          1. Ted S.

            Hey Paula,

            I don’t mind at all. In the script, there’s a flashback scene showing what happened to Aldo’s neck. When he was younger, he was lynched by the KKK, remember in the film he said he had some Native American’s blood in him? I don’t remember much but I think that’s the reason the KKK wanted to kill him and I couldn’t remember how he escaped either. But it explains why he hated the Nazis so much and why he mark the ones who he didn’t kill with a swastika on their foreheads. If you want to read the script, I’m sure you can find it online somewhere. QT also cut out scenes with Maggie Chung in it, she played the theater owner.

            1. Thanks Ted. That makes sense. I will look for the script, it didn’t occur to me to look. i think of scripts as being secret & mysterious for some reason.

  6. Jack Deth

    Haven’t been a fan of ‘Star Trek’ much beyond the original, Cold War tinged series. What followed was a bit too PC, toned down and touchy-feely for my tastes.

    ‘Five Minutes Of Heaven’ sounds eerily like an update on a little known, 1984 British import titled ‘Cal’.

    Well steeped in the UK/Ireland ‘Troubles’. ‘Cal’ faithfully follows Bernard MacLaverty’s novel of the same name. With John Lynch as a young man on the fringe of the IRA. Who falls in love with Helen Mirren as Marcella, the recent widow of a British soldier ambushed by Cal or one of his friends.

    Still waiting patiently for a US DVD of Gerald Seymour’s ‘Harry’s Game’.

    1. Hi Jack, I suppose if you like the original you’d have a different expectation for this new one, so I don’t blame you for not liking it.

      Oh, that premise of ‘Cal’ sounds good, w/ Helen Mirren no less. Not familiar w/ John Lynch though.

      Is Harry’s Game the one w/ Michael Caine? Or am I confusing that w/ something else?

      1. Jack Deth

        Hi, rtm:

        You’re thinking of ‘Harry Brown’ with Michael Caine. Kind of like a British version of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Gran Torino’.

        Where Caine plays a retired serviceman who is tired of the crime and vandalism in his neighborhood and decides to take matter into his own hands.

        ‘Harry’s Game’ was a BBC mini-series based on Gerald Seymour’s adaptation of his own novel.

        The IRA has a new, unknown assassin, so the Ministry of Defense recruits an infantry officer (Harry) to go to Ireland. Find the assassin and kill him.

        The mini-series starred Ray Lonnen (‘The Sandbaggers) and was very good at pointing out the pratfalls and foibles of internal and external politics on both sides of the North Sea.

        If Helen Mirren interests you, give ‘The Long Good Friday’ a close look. Ms. Mirren plays the wife of up and coming East End gangster, Bob Hoskins experiencing a very bad Easter weekend.

        1. Hi Jack, sorry for the late response, yeah I guess I’m confusing it w/ Harry Brown, he…he.. the name is so similar.

          Harry’s Game sounds intriguing, I might give that a watch one of these days. I generally like BBC stuff.

          I’m not generally into gangster stuff, but if it’s really good and not overly violent, I’ll check it out.

          Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. Paula

    i did like this Star Trek better than any of the others. it is rare that a reboot of a property with such a dedicated fanbase makes (most of) them happy and appeals to the casual viewer. (I am the latter.) I thought the cast had a lot of chemistry which was a big part of the film’s success, both as a film and as a part of the overall Star Trek work.

    1. Yeah, I was surprised as well as I went in not knowing what to expect and a bit worried I’d be totally lost in all the Star Trek jargon, etc. Fortunately it was very accessible and I found myself being really entertained by it. Yes, the cast’s chemistry is great and I think that’s a big factor why it was fun. I love the scenes w/ Kirk and McCoy when the doctor tried to sneak him in. Karl Urban should do more comedy… he’s one of my faves right now, right up there w/ Fassy. I think they’re both talented but I’m still hoping Urban will get offered great roles like Fassy does right now.

      1. “Can i get a towel please?” 😉

        I’ve liked Urban since LOTR days. i think he was really good as the hit man in the 2nd Bourne picture. Not sure why he doesn’t get the same kinds of roles as Fass.

        1. Ha..ha.. yeah Pegg’s so funny here.

          Karl is one of my fave actors from down under… sooo charismatic and obviously VERY easy on the eyes 😀 I hope he will get his breakthrough role soon and be offered stuff left and right like Fassy!

  8. Richard

    Good review, Ruth. It’s always interesting to hear a non-Trekkie’s take on these movies. I loved it, too. It was pretty brave to essentially wipe out everything that has happened in Star Trek since it started by changing events before the first episode.

    1. Thanks Richard. Yeah, I guess it’s quite a gamble for Abrams to do so but it clearly worked out for him. Of course you can’t please everyone and some Trekkies are probably think it’s sacrilege, but for people like me, it sure was entertaining.

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