As shiny and gleaming as the 2009 reboot. J.J. Abrams and his writers offer plenty to chew on -- when is a preemptive strike moral; the rationale behind the Prime Directive -- but don't let the characters engage in any philosophizing that would provide a welcome change of pace from the nonstop action. In this new incarnation of Star Trek, rules are meant to be stated and then broken -- and that goes for more than just Captain Kirk. Seen within the context of the Trek mythos, it's easy to criticize the filmmakers for messing with the continuum/ needless recall of previous chapters. Viewed as its own thing -- fun, fun fun.
Epic boasts beautiful visuals and smart storytelling to share its ecologically-minded message with a light touch. Great entertainment for all but the youngest of viewers, for whom the dark themes and undertakings may be a bit intense.
One by one, the few survivors of a plane crash are picked off by the harsh Alaska elements -- its ferocious wolves and sub-zero temperatures. Joe Carnahan energizes this familiar template with fine direction that emphasizes the visceral subject matter without exploiting it. And his screenplay gives meaning to the struggle for survival -- a consideration of the experience of death as horrifying and transcendent.
Remember how you hated the straining humor of "Meet the Parents?" Here's some more of that. "The wackier the better" is the guiding principle, except we've seen this wackness before. And it wasn't funny then, either.