Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Star Trek"

**I'm trying to implement a rating system based on movie villains. Check it out on the side. I know it's a bit blurry, but I'll get a decent photoshop program to improve it eventually. Also, I'm sticking with the weekly poll, so please let me know what you think of the casting in Star Trek, even if you've only seen the previews. And check back on Wednesday this week for something a bit different. I plan on just writing articles/essays about different movie-related topics on Wednesday rather than review new movies. Leave me a comment if you like (or hate) any of these ideas.

Star Trek - Directed by J. J. Abrams, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban - Rated PG - 13

A solid Chigurh for this thoroughly entertaining summer movie.

The previews for the new Star Trek film claim that this “is not your father’s Star Trek” and I have to agree, slightly. But that doesn’t mean that old fans should avoid this immensely entertaining film. It is technically a reboot of the series, but there are enough little jokes and throwbacks to appease the older fans while embracing the new. Maybe the hardcore fans will denounce it, but people like me (who have only a slight interest in the series) will love the comedy and constant action.

The film begins with James T. Kirk’s father saving his passengers (including his newborn son) while he sacrifices himself to a Romulan madman (Eric Bana in a role that should’ve been expanded). We then see James as a troubled youth in Iowa alongside scenes with the half-human Spock as he battles with logic and emotion. That is really the main storyline here. Sure, there is a struggle that involves the fate of entire planets, but this is the story of the beginnings of a great friendship between Spock and Kirk. That aspect of the story is made much better with the foreknowledge of the original movies. We know that Spock and Kirk eventually become good friends, and that is what makes their tense early moments enjoyable. It’s like the audience is in on a joke that the cast is unaware of.

That joke continues as each crew member is introduced. We know that “Bones” McCoy (played to perfection by Karl Urban) is a grizzled doctor who speaks his mind, so when he states his trademark line (“Damn it, man, I’m a doctor, not a physicist!”) we are waiting for it. Then you add Simon Pegg as Scotty (a perfect choice) and the comedy is amped up to a level not usually associated with Star Trek. Should a Star Trek movie have multiple comedic moments? Some might shudder at the idea, but I thought the comedic aspect referenced the old movies aptly. It’s natural for Kirk, an arrogant ladies man, and Spock, a logical unemotional Vulcan, to clash in funny ways. Star Trek may be known for its lofty and even philosophical ideas, but it has really been a big, expensive summer movie waiting to happen all along.

Summer movies may be known for comedic relief, but they are also known for action, and this film does not disappoint. While the action might seem forced at times (you rarely get a chance to take a breath before another action set piece begins) it is always impressive. This film finds the balance between awesome visuals and entertaining action. You’ll see a shot of a planet with spaceships movin slowly one minute, then a sword fight atop a futuristic drill the next. The pace might be frantic for some, but you’ll be entertained. And if you forget what just happened for a minute, you don’t have time to dwell on it because an impressive new scene has already started. This movie is excellent at keeping you occupied long enough to embrace the fun moments while you forget the scenes that might not make sense.

But all of this couldn’t work without the acting skills of the two leads. Chris Pine (Kirk) is a relative unknown who will quickly make a name for himself because he played the part of Kirk as if it was a brand new role. This is no William Shatner impression. Zachary Quinto (Spock) is in the same boat, though he had to follow more rules than Pine. Spock is a character that is required to act a certain way. Quinto does an admirable job as the emotionally troubled Vulcan. We don’t get the sage from the older movies; we get a character that will eventually become that sage, which is much more interesting in my opinion. It also helps that these two actors work well together in a plot that takes the audience’s preconceptions (like the idea that Spock and Kirk are friends) and turns them upside down.

Finally, the style of the film should be addressed. J.J. Abrams, the director, has created a sci-fi look that may remind some of “2001” and “Star Wars,” but still stands on its own legs. Some have complained that lens flares (when the camera seems to be pointed directly at a light source) are present in nearly every scene. That didn’t bother me. In fact, that added to this movie’s style. I will say that the constantly moving camera became annoying at times, but that is the only minor complaint I can think of for this visually arresting film.

Is this your father’s Star Trek? No. It’s everybody’s.

*Once again, my summer reviews might end up in the Perry County News, so I want to add a bit to the site review.

I want to talk about the cast a bit more. Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett) does a servicable job as Chekov, but it is important that people know about the character of Chekov before they see the movie, otherwise his performance could come off as silly. Those of us that have heard Chekov ask about the "nuclear wessels" will get a kick out of Yelchin's performance. Newbies might scratch their heads. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is probably the least interesting of the cast, but it's not from a lack of acting, but rather from a lack of character development. But when you're dealing with a movie that is meant to introduce so many characters, one or two have to take a backseat and maybe get some attention in a sequel. The same goes for John Cho as Sulu, though he has a few more interesting moments than Uhura.

For Wednesday - A write-up/rant about the critical treatment of George Lucas these days.

1 comment:

  1. I hate the comment "This isn't your father's Star Trek". This movie has every original character and of course the main star - The USS Enterprise. The action shots and effects are the only difference. If Gene Roddenberry had this technology he would have used it. Any Trekkie who refuses to watch this film is obviously not a real fan. I am usually against "Reboots", but this one was perfect. It breathes new life into a fading franchise. Trust me, no one was interested in a Star Trek 7! This was a very good movie and I think Roddenberry would agree.