Summer Update 5/27/16 – Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; What I’m Watching: Neighbors 2 and more

If you missed me saying it in last week’s podcast, we are on a summer vacation from recording the show. [sadface emoji] But I’m in love with my own opinions too much to go a week without rounding up my thoughts on some new trailers and things I’ve been watching. I mean come on, I’m a white dude with a podcast–albeit one that’s on hiatus.

New Trailers

A handful of trailers released in the last couple of weeks have brightened my outlook on their respective films…

Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures) — in theaters July 22, 2016

Back in January (Trailer Home Podcast: Episode 184) I expressed the same disappointment many other people felt for the teaser trailer for the 13th film installment in the Star Trek franchise. It was heavy on action and light on story, which is antithetical to what Trek has traditionally been in its 50 year history. This new trailer, unveiled at a Paramount fan event last week, is still pretty heavy on action and still prominently displays the fact that Fast & Furious director Justin Lin is at the helm (more on that below). But it also tones down the bro factor at least a little. Coupled with accounts of footage from the movie that was also screened at the event, it makes me more optimistic that Beyond will at least be on par with J.J. Abrams’ previous two installments and not just Fast & Furious in Space.

On a side note, last week was a pretty good one for Star Trek fans. In addition to the new movie trailer and footage, there was CBS’s unveiling of a teaser for next year’s new Star Trek TV series. (Yeah it’s pretty basic, but hey…something I guess!) And there was the announcement that Paramount is dropping a lawsuit against the producers of a fan-made film. That decision was due in part to campaigning by Justin Lin directly to studio heads, which also raises my hopes that Lin may be treating Star Trek Beyond with reverence to the franchise’s hardcore fans–something that some people felt even Abrams’ films were lacking.

Ghostbusters (Sony Pictures) — in theaters July 15, 2016

Ever since it was first announced that Ghostbusters was being rebooted with a core cast that just happened to feature all women (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones), expressing even just skepticism at their involvement without being labeled a sexist has been a delicate balancing act. Don’t get me wrong: I recognize that there has unquestionably been a LOT of sexism in the criticism of the film’s female cast. My own problem has nothing to do with the fact that the cast are women or even with the fact that they’re remaking Ghostbusters. (At I least I don’t think I’m that dude….) Rather, I’m simply not a fan of McCarthy nor of director Paul Feig.

I missed out on the podcast where the rest of the guys talked about the first trailer back in March (Trailer Home Podcast: Episode 193). Suffice it to say I mostly agreed with their thoughts on it. This new trailer is at least…better. There were a few laughs, the action and ghosts look cool, and it appears to clear up some of the confusion over whether this movie is a separate story from the original movies or a continuation of them. (Melissa McCarthy says it’s the former and that even she wasn’t thrilled with the first trailer.) The new trailer upgrades my outlook on Ghostbusters from “Ugh, this looks really dumb” to “Well, I guess I’ll see it and maybe it will be OK.” I’m working on making those ratings a little more succinct.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal Pictures) — in theaters June 3, 2016

Whereas Star Trek Beyond and Ghostbusters are both movies that I want to like but had initial trailers that just didn’t appeal to me, Popstar is a movie I never really had much interest in to begin with. After watching the first trailer in March (Trailer Home Podcast: Episode 194), I was noncommittal about seeing the Lonely Island comedy starring Andy Samberg as a Bieberesque celebrity punk. The new trailer starts with a rehash of some of the same scenes from the first one, but about 30 seconds in (about the time it takes to get to Mars) the new gags start. And if you didn’t get that last joke, watch this trailer. Oh, and it has Seal and wolves. Seal and wolves, people. I just might go see this in the theater. You’re welcome, Cody.

What I’m Watching

It’s fitting that within the first week after we begin our vacation, my schedule opens wide and allows me to watch a whole bunch of new things. Mostly I’m working on a lot of TV shows (more on those below), but I did get to one movie last week…

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (now in theaters)

Neighbors 2 (Universal Pictures)
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Universal Pictures)

What surprised me most about this movie is that, for a gross-out/stoner comedy, it’s pretty socially conscious. Not only does it take a unique approach to empowering college-age women by making them as gross and irresponsible as men their age, but it also unexpectedly–and somewhat awkwardly–takes a stab at promoting gay rights by making one of the frat brothers from the first movie suddenly gay. For the most part, the social progressivism unfolds naturally through the plot rather than being telegraphed, and I actually appreciated that. Overall, though, the sequel feels like a collection of less funny jokes and bits that might have been cut out of the first movie, and perhaps the funniest thing in the entire film was a recycling of the airbag prank from the first one.

The Night Manager (AMC)

AMC aired the final episode of this imported British miniseries this week. As I mentioned on last week’s podcast, the spy thriller is a slow burn rather than a punch-a-minute action fest. It ratchets up the tension from episode to episode. By the last half hour of the last installment, I was watching with my jaw clenched waiting to find out what would happen. Based on a book by John Le Carré, it most definitely has the feel of an airport novel, but it’s very entertaining.

Documentary Now 

Cody previously endorsed this IFC mockumentary series from Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, which is now available for streaming on Netflix. The series is masterful in its parody treatment of various documentary styles, from found footage horror to Vice-style edginess to crime stories and others. Each episode is so well done, and the humor sometimes so subtle, that it’s sometimes easy to forget you’re watching something totally made up. It’s difficult to pick a favorite installment. This season is probably one of my favorite seasons of television I’ve watched in a long time, and so is…

Catastrophe – Season 2 

Also previously endorsed by Cody, the second season of this Amazon series (actually another British import) is maybe even better than the first one. Technically a romantic comedy, it’s one of the realest portrayals of relationships I’ve seen on TV. Whereas a typical romantic comedy would have its couple overcome their troubles with jokes and almost invariable schmaltz, Catastrophe proudly displays the flaws of its couple, even after they’ve committed to each other, and leaves you never quite certain whether their decision to stick together is turning out for the best. The season ends on a cliffhanger that makes my heart hurt. Season 3 can’t come soon enough.

Well, that’s what’s up with me. What are your thoughts on the new trailers for Star Trek, Ghostbusters, and Popstar? What movies or TV have you been enjoying? Share in the comments below. Maybe even Andy, Cody, or BK will share what they’re up to. Quite probably they aren’t even reading this, so I can freely say whatever I like about them. I’m not that mean, though. After all, they are the village that makes me look dope.

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