Star Trek Into Darkness continues the revisionist history that director J.J. Abrams started with his first movie in this series in 2009. The characters are familiarKirk, Spock, Uhura, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekovbut they are fresh Star Fleet Academy graduates whose adventures do not mesh with the classic Star Trek canon. Also, these movies are less cerebral than the various Star Trek TV series, adopting instead the summer-blockbuster model of frenetic action and special-effects fireworks. The results are thrilling but less filling. This installment's highlight is a ruthless villain ripped off from a previous Star Trek TV show and movieapparently, villains are in short supply in the future. Even the climax rehashes two previous Star Trek movies, albeit with two key characters changing places in the plot. At some point, homage starts smelling like unoriginality. Maybe all the good Star Trek stories have already been told.
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The Great Gatsby takes place during the 1920s Jazz Age, but this movie's soundtrack makes it seem like the Rap Age or Disco Age. Mashups of modern and contemporary music form a strange backdrop to elaborately staged scenes of epic parties at the Long Island mansion of Jay Gatsby, the central character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic 1925 novel. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire who mesmerizes New York's high society. Tobey McGuire plays Nick Carraway, a Wall Street bond salesman who falls into Gatsby's circle and narrates his story in flashbacks. Fitzgerald's morality tale of upper-class extravagance would seem to be especially relevant after the 2008 Wall Street crash and subsequent concentration of wealthhence, perhaps, the mashup soundtrack. But Gatsby's obsession with a lost love (played by a curiously unmagnetic Carey Mulligan) overshadows the social commentary. Fitzgerald's novel, like Tom Wolfe's 1987 homage, The Bonfire of the Vanities, inevitably loses some power when adapted to film.
The Company You Keep stars several Hollywood veterans (including Robert Redford, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Susan Sarandon, and Chris Cooper) as former Weather Underground radicals who have been living under false identities since the 1970s. When one is arrested by the FBI, the others fear exposure. Hanging over their heads is the death of a security guard during a long-ago bank robbery. Who shot the guard, and who will take the rap? With such a stellar cast, this film can't fail to be a well-acted drama. But the story detours when a reporter uncovers another secret. Although this one seems trivial compared with the murder, somehow it seizes center stage and muddles the conclusion. Nevertheless, it's fun watching these geezers show that their acting skills are as vigorous as ever.
>> See more mini-reviews, including 42 ... Oz, The Great and Powerful ... On the Road ... Zero Dark Thirty ... Silver Linings Playbook ... Les MisÚrables ... Promised Land ... Life of Pi ... Hitchcock ... Lincoln ... Chasing Mavericks ... Cloud Atlas ... Argo ... Looper ... The Master ... and many more!
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Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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- Tom's Oscar Contest. An annual tradition for 25 years, Tom's Oscar Contest is both entertaining and challenging. Hundreds of people have tried to guess who will win an Oscar in each Academy Award category. Competing against them is the computer brain of Tom's famed OscarCalc program, which sometimes wins the contest and always places near the top.
- The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was shut down by its new owner, CMP Media. A year later, CMP launched BYTE.com as a very different web-only publication. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ: The Death of BYTE Magazine.
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