Star Trek: Split Infinitives and Beyond!

Whoa Mama!Preview
Whoa Mama!

I’m a long time Trek fan.

More than casual, way short of hardcore.  I know some words in Klingon, a couple of Rules of Acquisition, and that you never wear a red shirt on a road trip.   Everything I learned about Federation history is from the TV shows and movies, not books or comics.   I loved the TOS when I was a kid because it was about spaceships and laser beams.  As I got older, I saw the stories for the little morality plays that they were and liked it even more.  Now, I can’t flip past an episode because I just love the cheese: the crap production values, the scenery chewing performances,  and all the goofy little quirks of the show (He’s dead, Jim!).  I am such a dork.

BTW: I really liked this movie.

It was fun.  It was familiar.  It was the characters I grew up with on the big screen, big budget, big time.   Sure, there’s 6 other movies featuring the original cast, but let’s be honest, the originals were looking pretty old and tired by the time they found the Undiscovered Country.  This go round they’re young and vital and oh so pretty.  The Enterprise is looking good too and the action and humor are there in heaps.  Shoot, they even bbq a red shirt for old-time’s sake.

As far as reboots go, this one is pretty solid.  I’m a middle of the road fan as described above and I had a great time at the IMAX last night.  I think everyone there enjoyed it, even the die-hards that I overheard comparing it to at least a half-dozen episodes of TOS.  I will admit that I would have enjoyed a more substantial storyline (a valid criticism), but it is an origin story and those tend to be something other than ‘deep’.

Overall, the performances of Spock, Kirk and McCoy were fine.  I never once thought I was watching the actors imitate the originals.  If anything, I felt like I was watching understudies, or a soap opera where a voice over at the beginning of the show announces that “Today, the role of James T. Kirk will be played by Christopher Pine”.  Same characters, different interpretations.  Christ Pine nails the brash, undeterred Kirk and Zachary Quintos gives the overly logical Spock some much needed humanity as well as humility.  Also, he’s getting it on with Uhura and that’s pretty damn cool.  McCoy was handled well, and probably would have been better if the screenwriters hadn’t saddled given him so many anti-vulcite lines.  Scotty was good, Uhura was hot and Sulu and Chekov, in a nod to their roots, were just there.

The action sequences were pretty decent, if Battlestar Galactica inspired.  Finally, after 6 series (TOS, Animated, TNG, DSN, V, and E) and 10 movies, we get to see the ships of the Federation let fly with a volley of phaser fire and a spread of photon torpedos.  Until now, the only ship to demonstrate any combat capabilities had been DSN’s Defiant, the little ship that could.  There’s a fantastic scene where the Enterpise roars onto the screen, guns ablazing that sent the audience at my screening into orgasm.  I, myself, didn’t jizz, but I did think it was pretty cool and certainly worthy of the ovation it received.

Before seeing the film, I did manage to buzz Rotten Tomatoes for the early reviews, which were mostly fanboy and worthless.  If you’re like me (Manny help you), you scan the negatives, because they’re usually more insightful.  After seeing the film and reading the reviews, here’s my reactions to the more critical reviews.

Fair criticisms

Too TV-ish

A number of serious reviews have pointed out that the movie looks like an overgrown TV show and they’re right.  This is a movie.  About space.  We should be treated to the occasional panorama, the wide shot.  I would have liked to have seen vistas and crowds and actors acting with and playing off of each other, not delivering lines to the backs of heads.

Incomprehensible plot

Well, it’s a movie about time travel AND an origin story.  So what get’s chopped?  Coherency.  Actually, the plot is pretty easy to follow, it’s just thin.  It is kind of a mashup of ST: The Motion Picture, and ST: Wrath of Kahn.  Not that that’s a bad thing, but that’s four hours of exposition getting cut down to two.  I think the movie could have been tighter.  Should have been tighter.  But then that’s not really an Abrams strong suit.  Like his TV shows (Alias, Lost) the movie starts hard out of the gate, but then sort of meanders towards a conclusion.  Maybe they find a Rimbaldi device on the island in the next film.

Weak villain

Yep.  He’s not that scary or threatening.  Again, I think this is a function of trying to do too much at once.  You have to introduce the characters, unite them, AND defeat the bad guy.  I understand that if I read the Star Trek comic mini-series that preceded the movie’s release I’d get a little bit more backstory on the backstory.  If you read my review of Watchmen, you’ll know I’m not a fan of this expanded universe nonsense.  Therefore, I didn’t read it, nor am I ever likely to read it.  I want all my exposition in the film that I’m watching.  I’m not doing research.

Unfair Criticism

Casual dismissal of established canon.

Did they throw out the book?  Yes they did, but I don’t see where they had a choice.  Star Trek: The Franchise, was ultimately crushed by the weight of its own continuity.  You couldn’t do anything ‘new’ with Trek, because you had to honor EVERYTHING that happened before.  Let’s say you want to do a movie or a show about Star Fleet Academy, well, do you have the instructor’s names right according to TOS, episode XX.XX?  Does the curriculum match Wesley Cruhser’s course load in TNG, episode XX.XX?  And so on.  I actually thought the dismissal of the known history was both brilliant and hackneyed.  Time travel and an alternate reality.  Simple and elegant with just a hint of Dallas.  Look that one up kids.  I’m not explaining it.

The design of the ship and the bridge is too…iMac

So now we know that Apple wins the PC wars and the Federation flies around not in space ships, but iShips.  Guess what….don’t care.  It looks good and I liked it.  Even with the updated tech, the iBridge still felt like the bridge.  I liked the iEnterprise.  It looked like a flagship should look in the iFuture.  Sleek and fast, yet user friendly.  The re-imagined Engineering section was a nearly too industrial for me, especially when compared to the iBridge, but again, so what.  It still looked cool.  I will, however, admit to being a touch surprised that the iEnterprise is water-cooled.  That’s going to require a lot of anti-freeze.

Kirk’s eyes are the wrong color.

Ok, that’s not really a criticism of the movie, just a random thread post I saw on a fan forum.  All I can say really say is that’s the mindset that nearly buried the franchise to begin with.  My advice to that guy: move out of your mother’s basement and get a blowjob.  It will completely rock your world.

So, to summarize…see the movie.  Trek fan or not, I think you’ll enjoy it.

3 thoughts on “Star Trek: Split Infinitives and Beyond!

  1. Thanks to a odd bouncing coin toss, I ended up seeing ST again this weekend (the loser ‘Knowing’). The first show was in an IMAX theater, the second a plain old screen. Maybe it has something to do with the way movies are cropped for IMAX or the fact that Kirk and Co. weren’t 40 feet high, but the closeups did not bother me as much at the second showing.

    Also, I liked it even more.

    Plot is still a mess, especially as the film speeds to its climax (notice I didn’t say ‘warped’), but it is a lot of fun.

    The most I ever hope for from comic or adapted films is that they don’t suck. This didn’t suck.

    Or maybe I just like silly.

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