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‘Trekkies’ and AlDub fans unite!

There is an apparent “controversy” over what to call hard-core fans of the “Star Trek” franchise. At the press preview of “Star Trek Beyond,” the latest film installment in the series of movies about the USS Enterprise (following the end of the TV series), the question arose over what to call the followers of James Tiberius Kirk and the Enterprise crew.

“Is it ‘Trekkies’ or ‘Trekkers’?” the host asked. No less than the head of “Star Trek Philippines,” the local fan group (don’t make the mistake of calling them a “fan club”) set things right: “It’s Trekkies. No less than Gene Rodenberry (who created ‘Star Trek’) said that’s how we should be called.”

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That settled, it was time to watch the movie.

Here’s where the difference between watching a movie in a “regular” cinema and on an IMAX screen (in this instance, at the smaller IMAX venue in SM Megamall) was made manifest. On 3D the experience is more than just immersive or mind- and eye-boggling. It is dizzying and dazzling, disorienting, discombobulating. It’s not just watching a movie, it’s diving deep into the experience. And “Star Trek Beyond” is one movie that fully deserves this treatment.

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By this time, after two movies as part of the revived franchise, audiences are well-acquainted with the characters and the actors who flesh them out. What is new, said the filmmakers, were the pairings they introduced to break away from what was previously a “Kirk-and-Spock-centric” production. When the Enterprise is set upon by alien craft and crash-lands in the planet Altamid, the crew members are divided into separate groups as they board their escape pods. “Alpha male” Kirk (Chris Pine) is paired with the youthful, eager and even naive Chekov (Anton Yelchin, who died in a car accident before the film’s release). Spock (Zachary Quinto, who inhabits the alien character with a softened gravitas) is caught in a tandem with Bones McCoy (Karl Urban), and their funny give-and-take adds a much-needed leavening touch to the proceedings.

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Meanwhile, cowriter Simon Pegg, who is cast as chief engineer Montgomery Scott, finds himself partnering with Jaylah, who saves his life and pairs her technological skills and knowledge of the planet to save the crew. Jaylah (the newcomer Sofia Boutella) has been stranded in Altamid since she was a child, her family massacred by the lizard-looking alien villains.

The rest of the crew, headed by Uhura (Zoe Zaldana) and Sulu (John Cho), have been taken prisoners by the aforementioned villains, who police the planet with a clone army horde and are hatching plans for taking over the universe.

Led by Krall (Idris Elba), the alien baddies are bent on destroying the human race—well, technically, the United Federation of Planets—beginning with the super space city Yorktown. The entire film centers on the struggle to rescue the entire crew and race Krall and his fleet to save Yorktown.

What the producers call “a small army” of makeup artists, sculptors, painters and mold technicians and silicone experts worked to create the over 50 alien races that “people” Yorktown and other planets.  But as a viewer, you wouldn’t know it, the effort seeming so natural and part of the sci-fi landscape.

And that I think is what sets apart this latest “Trekkie movie.” It has all the technical bells and whistles you would want, but the crew members of the Enterprise, regardless of their biological origins, remain as human—that is, funny, foolish, fiendish—as they can be.

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A younger friend of mine flew over the weekend from her workplace in Bangkok just to catch the screening of “Imagine You and Me,” the first film that has the phenomenal “AlDub” love team as leads.

So there’s little mystery why, on its first day of showing in cinemas, the film grossed over P21.5 million, supposedly this year’s highest opening gross to date. (We’ll have to wait until the Metro Manila Film Festival brings the expected blockbusters.)

Given a Grade B by the Cinema Evaluation Board, “Imagine You and Me” goes beyond the expected elements of the typical “romcom,” even if it is, as fans awaited and demanded, centered on the pairing of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza. For one thing, there’s the setting, on the banks of the lovely Lake Como in Italy where, so director Mike Tuviera told the press, his father, producer Tony Tuviera, had vowed to someday make a movie. And while the story is frothy and light-hearted, it is not flighty or shallow. It strives to tell a story with heart, with the requisite kilig factor.

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Gara (Mendoza) is an overseas worker who does odd jobs for a living, including housekeeping for the Filipino widow of a wealthy Italian and walking the dog of a young woman who is dying of a terminal illness. She meets by accident Andrew (Richards), who is living with his stepmother and moping after the love of his life (so he thinks) tore his heart to shreds.

Will the perky, ever-optimistic Gara draw out the sullen Andrew from his seemingly impenetrable shell? And how will their blossoming love survive the cruel twist of fate that awaits them?

My favorite characters in the movie, quite apart from AlDub, were Gara’s roommates, Winona (Cacai Bautista) and Vangie (Cai Cortez), who present a foil to her sunshiny disposition with their cynical-yet-comedic take on matters of love, life and men. Jasmine Curtis-Smith also essays her tragic role with admirable restraint, and the rest of the cast and crew must be credited with surrounding the country’s biggest love team with all the ballast they need to acquit themselves as credible actors.

A great love team, a beautiful setting, a witty script, Dubsmash scenes—what’s not to like?

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TAGS: Alden Richards, AlDub, Films, Imagine You and Me, Maine Mendoza, Star Trek, Star Trek Beyond
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