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An 'F' film, an 'A' film, and a homage to Star Trek

Jackson Robert Scott in his role as Georgie from the movie "It" (Warner Bros.)

As the Summer of '17 has officially come to an end, I cannot remember a time when so many people have come up to me and complained about the quality of our summer movies.

Many have stayed away from their favorite neighborhood theater. And some of those who have ventured out in the heat have raised concerns about only a handful of patrons filling the auditorium.

All of this is about to change, as Hollywood is about to trip on itself with a plethora of good (if not great) new films released during the last quarter of the year.

I am now comfortable writing that my favorite film of the past nine months remains WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. My honorable mention includes GIRLS TRIP, SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING, WONDER WOMAN, and DUNKIRK.

As I shared last week, the summer movies came to an end with an "F" score for MOTHER! And with an "A" score film, for IT.

I expect many of my fellow Las Vegas Film Society critics to strongly disagree with my summer assessment. Each of us approaches a film with different biases combined with bringing significantly different life experiences to the critics' table. I take my cue from the audience response - just as CinemaScore relies on the opening Friday night audience around the country who pull their scorecard tab.

Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting and challenging directors today. His deeply complicated personal film MOTHER! was also written by him. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence (as "mother"), Javier Bardem (as "him"), Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleason, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, and Kristen Wiig. Michelle Pfeiffer could perhaps pick-up a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

MOTHER! is not for everybody. It is a strange horror film. The screenplay will challenge you at times. "Should I walk out, or should I continue to try and figure out what the hell is going on?" We have entered the Twilight Zone. For those old enough to remember -- this is ROSEMARY'S BABY on steroids. The final scenes may send you to the bathroom to throw up. MOTHER! is a religious allegory filmed with symbolism. Or, is it? That will be for you to decide. Already a box office failure, the film earned a paltry $7.5 million last weekend. And after seven days, a little over $10 million.

The box office for IT is off the chart. Over the first 14 days in release, the Stephen King thriller has earned a little over $236 million. My score of a solid "A" is due to the terrific performances of all the kids. And a screenplay that replaces gore with building tension. And more tension. And more tension.

CIRCLE THE DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

STAR TREK: THE CRUISE departs from Miami this January. Seven months later, the 52nd Annual Star Trek Convention will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino from Aug. 1-5.

Earlier this month, several Las Vegas theaters hosted the Fathom Events screening of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982). Prior to viewing the film on its 35th anniversary, there was a taped interview with William Shatner. The interview itself was worth the price of admission. He offered personal remembrances of Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, and the challenges involved in making this film. The director was Nicholas Meyer, based on the television series.

Today, new generations of Star Trek fans share the same passion for the characters and for the stories.

In his review written on Jan. 1, 1982, Roger Ebert wrote: "Montalban's performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not on Star Trek but "Star Wars" (1977) and all the epic serials, especially the "James Bond" movies. Each film is only as good as its villain."

Ebert went on to say, "It's about a sacrifice made by Spock, and it draws on the sentiment and audience identification developed over the years by the TV series."

There have been 52 years of consecutive conventions here in Las Vegas! "Live long and prosper." Cue the theme music: "TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE!"


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