Users of this film may experience: Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excellent acting, and powerful story telling that hinges on near perfect performances.
Jude Law takes the lead in Side Effects with a role that's extremely similar to his character in Contagion. The performances could be interchanged with little notice. But, he's still spectacular in the part. Law's talent only seems to grow with age. Rooney Mara (the second Lisbeth Salander) also stars in the role of crazy Emily with attention to detail and a human spark that some of her past characterizations have missed. From the little I've seen of her, this is her most formidable work and a step in the right direction for her career. Catherine Zeta-Jones and her new face offer terrific support as Channing Tatum plays second fiddle to them all. Once a Tatum basher, I have recently become a bit more supportive of his talents.
Side Effects is not an edge of your seat thriller that moves at a frenetic pace. It's a movie that takes its time building to some of the best climactic twists I've seen this year or in recent history. The lack of constant music throughout the film sets a tone of realism as only Soderbergh can deliver. Take the time to see this one. You might have a hard time getting through the first act, but when it gets moving, be ready for some of the most creative plot turns you'll experience this year.
The story line in this new addition is exceptional. It does start off a bit slow but takes off in the middle of the film and doesn't let up. There are tons of little references for fans to pick up on and it there is plenty of comic relief to lighten the somewhat darker tone. The interesting interactions between Kirk and the rest of his crew are kept intact and Abrams doesn't veer too far away from the classic Trek formula. Kirk is still a headstrong, womanizing captain and Spock is still the logical voice of reason. They are friends who have common goals with completely different ideas on how to accomplish them. Benedict Cumberbatch (this is a very fun name to say) is a newcomer to the series and does an outstanding job as the menacing villain of the movie. I was a bit skeptical of him at first but he actually comes off very intimidating and quite frankly, bad-ass.
To answer the burning question in all of your minds, yes, the lens flare that J.J. Abrams is so fond of has been toned down a lot. The look of the movie is sleek but with cool retro callbacks to the original 1960's series. Of note is the excellent sound design. It uses all the iconic sounds you know and love and even has small excerpts of music used in the television series. It’s fun trying to pick them all out and a great nod to the fans. There are tons of Easter eggs and references tucked away and I will enjoy looking for more of them on consecutive viewings. It is refreshing to see a well-loved franchise treated with the respect it deserves.
While Star Trek is known for its cool spaceships, nifty techobabble, and crazy aliens, the heart of the series has always been an examination of human nature. The sci-fi is merely a window dressing surrounding morality plays and questions about humanity and the decisions they make. It’s what keeps the fans coming back for more. J.J. Abrams understands this and masterfully integrates the characterization Star Trek is known for with well-choreographed action sequences—something the older movies have really lacked. He found a way to appease the hardcore fans without alienating the casual moviegoer, which is no small feat. This gives me hope for the future of Star Trek and for that I am eternally grateful. Make it so.