Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Trek, my second post.

Saw Star Trek last night. I warn you, this is a bit of a spoiler, so if you haven't seen it, don't read fact if you have seen it, you probably don't want to read it either. Ha.

The Flaws: I was really disappointed to see this movie suffering from a minor case of Lucas-itis. There were a couple of pages taken DIRECTLY from his book on how to cheese up your over-the-top-action-sci-fi, and a couple that merely follow his theme. 
First, show the main character as a stupid kid, best if the actor is unlikable, has an attitude, and totally overacts his ONE LINE. I don't know WHY directors feel we need to see them as a kid, doing things that really don't affect or add to the greater story line. Second, scary monster scene: desolate planet, CHECK; monster to chase main character, CHECK; bigger monster that comes out of nowhere to eat the other monster, CHECK; the second monster must be huge, and must be a mash-up of every scary creature from every sci-fi movie before it, CHECK. This scene wasn't a direct frame by frame knock-off of scenes from Star Wars Crapisode 1 and 2, but it was far too eerily familiar to ignore. I absolutely hated this scene and couldn't wait for it to end...again, completely worthless for the plot and the character.

The major idea from the Lucas book is killing the consistency of your franchise. One way to do this, that Star Trek suffered from in a way, is to make sure to overdo your ship, weapon, and character design for episodes that are supposed to take place in the past. I was relieved when they showed the exterior of the Enterprise for the first time, they really did justice to the original while updating it minimally. But, I was a little disappointed when they got to the bridge. They kept much of the essence of the original bridge: the overall layout and the size, but I really feel they had way too many fancy technological gadgets and screens (again feeling very Star Wars), and the stark, sterile white was a bit much. The two areas I was most unhappy with though were the beaming effects and the phasers. The original series and Enterprise were very primitive; I don't understand why they felt that wouldn't work and why it all had to be sexed up. The swirlies for beaming just seemed goofy and distracting to me, and I was really sad to see they didn't use a phaser sound similar to the original. That's the type of stuff fans of the original eat up. They did get the beaming sound right, and that was cool, but the phasers sounded like Amidala's from Episode I, and that thing where Kirk's phaser flipped back and forth was just weird.

The $24,000 question, how do you reboot a LONG running series without getting stuck adhering to, or referencing all of the old stories and lore? Throw in an alternate reality timeline. On the one hand, it was a little cheap of Abrams to go this route, on the other hand, it does actually hold with the Star Trek lore that time travel is possible, so it does fit. This both saddens me, and makes me excited. I'm bummed that we aren't going to get to see the updated versions of some of the old stuff, but I'm excited to see where the series goes. Though, I'd be willing to lay down plenty of money that says they go overboard in the next one, trying to outdo the excitement and special effects of this one.

The Characters: The casting for this was pretty well done. The kid Kirk was horrid, but Chris Pine did a good job as the adult Kirk. He was a bit over the top at times, but still did a fairly believable job. Zachary Quinto was exactly what you'd expect. We've seen enough of him as Sylar to know he could do the borderline eerie character of Spock perfectly. John Cho as Sulu, was just a result of needing to casting an asian guy. We lose out on George Takai's bizarrely deep voice, but gain a very strong actor that is just fun to watch on screen. Anton Yelchin from Charley Bartlett fame (worth a watch, if you haven't seen it) was an interesting cast as the campy Checkov character. They really played up the cheese on him, but still managed to create a likable character.

I thought it was a little odd to see British funny man Simon Pegg (of Shawn of the Dead fame) playing Scotty. He did a good job and he's going to be funny in the series, but it's just a little weird. Bruce Greenwood was great as Captain Pike, a very commanding character who fit more as captain than any of the other characters in the movie. And the only other characters I haven't mentioned are Uhura and Spock Prime, so there, I've mentioned them. 

All told, I really enjoyed this movie. Looking back, I'm disappointed that they spent so much time with set-up, but the bar brawl scene, and some of the set-up scenes did actually manage to add to the story. It was great seeing the characters together, and the Star Trek universe is almost always an exciting one. Hopefully in the next episode they'll do some of the quintessential planet exploring with an away team...and I pray to God that if they do, they include the gag where the dude in a red shirt gets killed. I swear, every episode of the original series, the landing party would be Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, and some random guy you've never seen before in a red (or was it blue) shirt who inevitably fell prey to some monster, booby trap, or man-eating plant. 

And there you have it, my post for the decade. I'll check back in with another review when they reboot the Buck Rogers series.

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