Even with those thick, glossy atmosphere choices, the work of J.J. Abrams on Star Trek is far better than first expected. Having no love for the series that spawned it all certainly helps when engaging with what is, essentially, a remastering of the characters and varied stories at the heart of this installation. A reference here or there will go over the heads of newly approached novices to the Star Trek universe, but as long as the bulk of it is understandable, the threats obvious and the chemistry between the ensemble successful, then Star Trek will have no trouble appealing to a new generation. A desire to engage with that is quite difficult, but easily optimised by smart writing that rattles through the quick and successful portions of the Gene Roddenberry show.
While the best of experiments do not need the social strings to be plucked alongside their research, it surely helps the notoriety of it when the two fall beside one another. The Stanford Prison Experiment springs to mind, and Experimenter would also, had its title not been so generic. Yet that was not an issue for the former, but its controversy is so closely linked to its title. Experimenter is, effectively, a biopic of Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and his electric shock-oriented experiment, this Peter Sarsgaard starring piece looks into the effect of his work on a haunted American public dealing with the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Can good people inflict pain on those they have been told have wronged? Yes, absolutely. But it is the extent of this infliction that Milgram’s experiment was meant to cover, and director Michael Almereyda is meant to consider.
Countless adaptations, reworkings and allusions to the Bram Stoker classic have been offered to audiences through a variety of mediums. There are only so many that can stick out and ingrain themselves in the legacy of Count Dracula. Who better to helm such a project than Francis Ford Coppola? Knowing that the best way to open any adaptation is with the sultry, smooth Welsh tones of Anthony Hopkins, Coppola’s rendition of Dracula adapts the Stoker classic with a finesse audiences should have expected. Here is a director whose finest works are based on the written word, whose first Academy Award came from adapting life into art, and who, when pressed for a rich experience, has no trouble delivering.
Infantile as it may be, I really can’t stand the pairing of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. I find Depp’s performances in these instances obnoxious and immune to interest, whilst Burton’s direction is something I’ve never found myself gelling with outside of 1994s Ed Wood. Their distortion of conventional filmmaking is acceptable, but not wholly interesting to me, especially when they churn out such similar feeling films over and over, without much difference between the gothic horrors Burton prides himself on. Still, Edward Scissorhands does at least try something interesting, where it blends these aforementioned gothic notions with a criticism on idyllic suburbia. At least, it would’ve done if it weren’t so boring, and had the message not been fumbled this could have been truly spectacular.