Episode 109 : Great Grey Star Robot

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Added on Sat, 01 Jun 2013 18:04:18 -0700.
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It's summer! (Well, near enough). Woot! But in case, as is to be expected, you need to find your entertainment indoors and out of the rain, we give you our thoughts on a few films to watch at the cinema (Star Trek Into Darkness, Behind the Candelabra and The Great Gatsby), and a couple to catch up with in the comfort of your own home (Robot & Frank and The Grey).

Star Trek Into Darkness follows on from 2009's Star Trek, and offers more of the same. While this is sure to disappoint or irritate those who claim that JJ Abrams' reboot of the franchise wasn't a true Star Trek film (though those people did get 10 whole films of Star Trek, none of which was enormously successful), for the rest of us it can be considered good news. This outing of the Enterprise's crew sees Star Fleet attacked by the mysterious John Harrison (the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch), whose plans to bring the Federation to its knees must be stopped by Kirk and Spock. While the scenes with Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are very entertaining, the rest of the crew suffer in relation, and the scenes involving the other members of the crew feel somewhat shoe-horned in, so those hoping to see a repeat of the ensemble cast dynamic from the last film will find themselves a little disappointed. Still, Star Trek Into Darkness is a great action film, very entertaining and well worth watching.

In a very believable near-future, dementia sufferer Frank is given a robot companion by his son, Hunter, to help look after him. Frank initially treats Robot with hostility, but a relationship gradually begins to form between them and Robot moves from an irritation to Frank to being an integral part of a heist. Frank, you see, used to be a cat burglar, and this heist is just the project that Frank needs to keep his mind active. Various forms of dementia are not unusual topics for films but most are, at best, worthy but dull. Not so Robot & Frank, which is charming, funny and inventive, and the performances from Frank Langella as Frank and Peter Sarsgaard as the voice of Robot are particularly enjoyable. Definitely one to check out.

Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra depicts a period of the life of legendary showman Liberace, from the point of view of his lover, Scott Thorson. While the fact that he was gay is nowadays possibly the only thing anybody knows about Liberace, during his lifetime this was a well-guarded secret, and the relationships, motivations and personality of the off-stage Liberace little-known. Previous knowledge of, or interest in, Liberace isn't a necessary prerequisite for viewing Behind the Candelabra, and this is a fine drama with a superb turn from Michael Douglas in the central role.

Famous for throwing lavish parties, the mysterious Jay Gatsby enlists the help of Nick Carraway to reunite him with Nick's cousin, Daisy, who is Gatsby's long-lost love, a plan which can only end badly. Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's highly-regarded novel of the same name, The Great Gatsby is another Baz Lurhmann epic full of dizzying visuals and anachronistic music. While Leonardo Di Caprio is compelling as Gatsby, and Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton suitably unpleasant as Daisy and her husband, Tom, Tobey Maguire's Nick just doesn't work. While this isn't quite the catastrophe the name Baz Luhrmann might suggest, it's too idiosyncratic for it's own good.

Another film to catch up on at home, Joe Carnahan's The Grey sees Liam Neeson lead a small band of plane crash survivors through the Alaskan wilderness, while being stalked by a ferocious pack of wolves determined to kill them. Given a smaller budget and scope, director Carnahan shows he still has the ability to craft a decent film, helped not a little by the vital force that is Liam Neeson. While the creature effects are far from brilliant and the other members of the group rather too thinly drawn, this is an efficient and effective thriller which does a great job of creating tension.

And that's episode 109. Once you've listened, if you've any comments you'd like to make, please do so either by emailing podcast@theoneliner.com or hollering @theoneliner on Twitter. And as always we'd appreciate you taking a few moments to rate and review us on iTunes, or wherever better podcasts are served.

Well, uh, hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya further on down the trail.