The Hurt Locker is probably Kathryn Bigelow’s best film since Near Dark mainly because she doesn’t over direct in an effort to distract everyone from the silliness of the screenplays she usually has to deal with (End of Days or Point Blank anyone?). Though the story by Mark Boal takes place in Iraq, it’s not about Iraq. It’s a character study of an adrenaline junky played frighteningly well by Jeremy Renner. It has all the intensity of waiting for a bomb to go off, which is probably appropriate given the subject matter. The structure’s a tad off; it begins with one central character (played by Anthony Mackie), but then switches horses to focus on Renner. But outside of that, it’s perhaps the best American made film of the year so far.
Star Trek 2009 is probably the best interpretation of that sic-fi concept to date, including the original series (and I was there for the very first one with Shatner and Nimoy, so there). The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, achieved this through very simple means: they make Kirk a rebel without a cause with daddy issues and Spock an uptight nerd with mommy issues (you know, a variation of the character Sheldon Cooper as played Jim Parsons on the Big Bang Theory). Who knew creating back stories could be so fun? But when all is said and done, the most brilliant addition to the Star Trek mythology is to make Uhura and Spock an item; this alone will earn Orci and Kurtzman their place in sci-fi history. The movie is entertaining and moves at a good pace, except whenever Leonard Nimoy is on board. The poor guy is saddled with what seems a ton of exposition; in addition, he speaks as slowly as David Carradine did in Kill Bill, II, not a good role model. Eric Bana’s also on board in a role he seems to think is one of those bad guys that can change the course of an actor’s career; he’s perfectly fine, but no one’s going to remember him here.