The final frontier, or the final exam? Star Trek Into Darkness and The English Teacher hit theaters at warp speed this weekend, but PEOPLE’s critic gives only one of them a good grade.
Here’s what to see, what to skip and what to seek out this weekend at the movies.
• Star Trek Into Darkness:
Why bother with calendars? (They’re so predictable anyway.) This is how you know summer’s arrived – with a blockbuster at the cineplex.
J.J. Abrams’s second voyage at Star Trek‘s helm is very nearly as good as the first, with zippy action sequences, a wonderfully menacing bad guy, and a deepening relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) … and Spock and Uhura (Zoë Saldana) and Kirk and all the single ladies.
Benedict Cumberbatch, perhaps better known as my TV boyfriend Sherlock Holmes, uses his powers for evil as John Harrison, a mysterious Starfleet turncoat who becomes the most hunted terrorist in the galaxy. The man has secrets – secrets you don’t want to go searching for on the Internet box, lest you spoil some cool stuff for yourself.
What I will tell you is that while Into Darkness deals with some heavy stuff – namely the humbling of that cocky Kirk – the film stays nimble with in-jokes for Trekkers and more accessible humor for space tourists. Plus, it gives Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) great moments in the spotlight.
Provided you’re willing to overlook a few minor plot holes, Into Darkness sounds like a fine idea this weekend.
• The English Teacher:
It pains me to say bad things about a movie that stars Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane at his hammy best, but I must.
The movie starts out well enough: English teacher Linda Sinclair (Moore) decides to help a promising former student (Michael Angarano) by staging his play at her high school. Then she does something fairly stupid, for which the film punishes her mercilessly.
I just can’t stand it when romantic comedies – for that’s what Teacher hopes to be when it grows up – humiliate smart, capable women for the sake of humor. It just isn’t funny.
Seek This One Out:
• Stories We Tell
There are features, and there are documentaries. And then there are weird, fascinating hybrids like this one from director-actress Sarah Polley.
Stories We Tell aims to get at the truth behind a mystery in Polley’s intriguingly complex family. But whose truth? Her late mother’s? Her father’s? Her own?
To tell the story – and trust me, you want to hear it – Polley weaves in re-enacted home movies and first-person interviews with much of her family, and even has her father read from his memoir about what happened. So … what did happen? I wouldn’t dare spoil it for you.