Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie

Click to see this image of the outside of the Prince's Trust Star Trek Premiere biggerPeople are beginning to ask more and more frequently what I thought of the new Star Trek movie I saw at the premiere in London almost three weeks ago. I suppose it is reasonable to put it down here.

You are hereby warned that I will do my best to not give away the whole thing, and I will not give away major story points. But little quirks which I found pleasing are possibly going to make it into the next paragraphs. If you wish to enter the movie with no preconceptions, read no further until you've seen the movie.

I will start my comments by saying that in my eyes this is the best prequel ever, bar none. As a concept the movie itself is genius. The entire setting is an alternate, parallel universe in which the screenwriters and director are now free to do what they want and play around at will without upsetting the fanboys too terribly. Kirk and Spock meet each other in a completely different way than we learned about years ago while watching the episodes (historical documents - Galaxy Quest reference, thank you). Spock can even have a steamy affair with ... well, I won't give that away... but let's just say it's about time.

The cool thing is that this works. The characters are forging friendships and camaraderie under fire as people we know and love and have been becoming reacquainted with along the way are facing a Romulan threat. The bad guy wants to destroy Federation planets one by one, and he has technology from the future to do it.

The editing, cinematography, and special effects work are state-of-the-art, as you'd expect. The screenplay was obviously written by Trek lovers paying homage to so many of the things we loved about the original Trek.

Yes, we get to see extra, unimportant characters added into an "away" mission only to have them bite it to show that the situation is serious. Yes, we get to hear the "Ah'm givin' it all she's goot, Cap'n," and "Dammit, man, I'm a doctor, not a physicist". Yes, we get references to story lines of the past, the Kobiyashi Maru and Kirk's creative way of passing the test comes out with a different perspective and gives us a chance to see some interesting character development between Kirk and Spock.

The characters we know and love are all here. There are plenty of fantastic performances in this movie. Chris Pine fits very well into my estimation of a young Kirk, Zachery Quinto is a sullen and kind of sad Spock, but Karl Urban is the REAL McCoy! He's taken the performance and vocal quality of DeForest Kelley and made it his own. For me, his scenes were some of the best parts of the movie. I hope that we will see more of him in the future.

One thing I must say simply and clearly... I am... very happy... that Chris Pine decides... NOT... to try to replicate... William Shatner's stupid way of delivering lines. BUT, he does make out with a sexy green alien (would we expect any less?), and he does sling himself into the Captain's chair with the same macho "I'm the king of the world" attitude.

Two events hit me on an emotional basis. The first one was two-thirds of the way through. The camera pans back on the bridge and I suddenly realized with a start that all of the major players are here: a young energized Kirk is here, emotionally stunted Spock, Uhura (played wonderfully by Zoe Saldana - a young lady I first saw in "The Terminal" and hoped she would go on to bigger and better things), Sulu, Bones, Checkov and of course a funnier and much cooler Scotty. All the old favorites are standing up there, fresh and reborn... and I sighed deeply. The next event was the appearance of an older, wiser, and certainly more frail Spock played by (of course) Leonard Nimoy. Ahh... All is right with the world. The continuity is explained and the family reunion with my favorite ST character is complete. Strangely the moment was more emotional for me than I would have thought.

As it was for me in other ST movies, the bad guy and the "threat" are almost insignificant. I am here to visit with old friends, characters I've grown up with, and no matter how scary the situation may look for my old buddies, I know that they will make it through alright... they have to. Paramount most certainly has plans for another movie down the road.

Is the movie perfect? No. The final battle seems like it was cut from a Star Wars movie... a later Star Wars movie. Character, not plot is the strong suit here (but then I and thousands of other Trekkies would have it no other way) and I assume that for it to stand 100% on its own for non Trek lovers, it needs to have a slightly stronger plot. What it did do perfectly was play on the emotions of fans, giving us a family reunion of sorts, a reunion that spans across decades, even generations. Forty years of popular culture come to play in this hard reboot of a franchise... and unlike most other such refurbishments, this one reminds us what we loved about these people in the first place.

Do you have to be a Trekkie to enjoy the movie? Not at all. This is a perfectly good stand-alone movie for all action movie lovers, and especially the sci-fi freaks like me.

Now I want to know when J.J. Abrams and crew will do the same for Next Generation?!

I've uploaded some of my pics from the trip to London.


CrackerLilo said...

Read and loved the whole review, but what stood out to me was, Spock gets some action! Yay! I was looking forward to seeing this, and I'm not a Trekkie at all.

Also, I hope this does well because if Zachary Quinto is kept busy playing Spock in movies, Sylar might finally, finally, finally be a much smaller part of "Heroes"! (Yes, I am firmly in the "Sick of Sylar" camp.)

headbang8 said...

Is it Star Trek? It's Star Trek, Snooks, but not as we know it.

Margaret said...

My husband and I are big Trek fans and can't wait to see the film, even though we were worried about it being a prequel.(after the Star Wars disasters) I'm not so concerned after your review. BTW, to establish our creds, we own boxed sets of every season of TNG(my personal favorite) and of the original. (my husband likes it a little better)