Star Trek and Ab Fab return with new episodes and Captain Fantastic tries parenting

And there’s more: a new Ice Age, Yo Yo Ma in a documentary, scares with Lights Out and a Canadian award winner, Closet Monster


Did you notice that for every one of the last five weeks the number one movie has been an animated film? The Secret Life of Pets for these last two weeks and Finding Dory for the three before it. These so-called children’s films have saved the summer. It could happen again because another Ice Age is here and that series has also been big. But maybe not because there’s a new Star Trek in town too.

And several other good choices. Here’s the list:

Star Trek Beyond: 3 ½ stars

Absolutely Fabulous: 3

Captain Fantastic:  4

Closet Monster:  4

The Music of Strangers:  3 ½

Ice Age: Collision Course:  2 ½

Lights Out:  2 ½

STAR TREK BEYOND: In the previous two of these re-boots, the young Capt. Kirk was awarded command of the starship Enterprise, lost it and won it back. This time he loses it again. He steers it right into a trap; it gets destroyed and he and his crew are stranded on a planet they don’t know.  That sets up everything that’s good and not so good in this 13th movie and 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It’s a rousing adventure filmed here in Vancouver.  Favourite characters are back for us, teamwork and creativity are celebrated but ideas, which the series has always been about, are scarce and upstaged by action.


Basically it’s yet another revenge plot advanced by a guy who looks like a lizard and has a grudge against the Federation. It’s hard to tell but that’s Idris Elba under all that makeup. Kirk (Chris Pine), Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the rest of the crew end up fighting him from an abandoned spaceship that’s so old it still has Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys on the sound system.

There’s a frantic energy in the battle scenes, thanks to director Justin Lin who previously helmed three of the Fast and Furious movies. There’s a lot of humor, thanks to the script by Simon Pegg, who also plays Scottie the engineer. And the main attraction, again due to his script and his obvious love for Star Trek, is the interaction of the characters. They’re separated in groups of two while they’re stranded, a neat device that allows for bright, funny often revealing bits of dialogue. For the fans there are sly references to earlier movies and casual observers too will find this an entertaining outing, but watch out for the 3-D. It’s dark and murky. (5th Avenue, Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres everywhere) 3 ½ out of 5   

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE:  It had two runs as a TV series, in the early 1900s and then revived 15 years ago, but even now, it doesn’t feel outdated. It’s still funny, its salute to female friendship is true and its spoof of celebrity culture is more relevant than ever. How realistic is it? Probably not much. But as a rambunctious comedy it works. There are even some poignant contemporary touches.


Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon and Joanna Lumley as her best friend Patsy Stone are the original women behaving badly. Pioneers maybe when you think of what women in Hollywood comedies are doing these days. Patsy and Edina drink, party and generally conduct themselves as happy narcissists. But they’re also concerned they’re getting older. Edina at least stops now and them to ask what her life has come to.  Her public relations business seems to have only two clients, Lulu and a lesser-known Spice Girl. When she approaches supermodel Kate Moss, she accidentally tips her into the Thames River. That brings on the police, TV cameras and paparazzi and an escape to the French Riviera. Silly, bubbly fun and many, many cameos from Stella McCartney to Jon Hamm. (5th Avenue, International Village and a few suburban theatres) 3 out of 5  

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC:  This movie is a treat. It’s intelligent, funny at times, moving, and in its oddball way a real exploration of a modern dilemma. A bit exaggerated, but real. The issue is what’s the right way to raise your kids. Do you send them to school, let them go with the crowd and the electronic games or do you instill a social awareness in them and teach them the truth about the world?


Viggo Mortensen plays a father who is home schooling his six kids in a house in the woods. They hunt and slaughter animals. Discuss books and celebrate Noam Chomsky Day. Better to revere him than a fictional elf at Christmas time, he says. They spout Marxist critiques, talk of sticking it to the man and include a bit of shoplifting in that credo. And who knows more about the bill of rights: his 8-year-old daughter or a couple of X-box playing teen boys? Hyperbolic, but it makes the point. Trouble arises though and that idealism is tested when mom kills herself in hospital, her dad blames Viggo and two views of the world clash over her funeral. Also, the oldest son proves unprepared for society out of the woods. I’m not too happy with the ending but there’s lots substance to think about on the way there. (International Village) 4 out of 5

More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
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