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Monday, November 30, 2009

Star Trek

- Chekov, Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, Sula, Uhura

This week's movie rental - Star Trek. I was cautiously looking forward to seeing this, worried it might be a nihilistic Battlestar Galactica clone. Fortunately, it turned out to be way better than I had expected.

The plot has Spock (Leonard Nimoy) trying and failing to avert the destruction of the planet Romulus, with himself and a Romulan mining ship being then sucked into a black hole and sent back through time to the moment of James Kirk's birth. Kirk's dad is kllled due to an attack on his ship by the Romulan ship, and thus Kirk's life, and everyone else's too, unfolds differently than it had in Spock's (and the original Star Trek's) own timeline. This was a great idea, for though much is the same in this storyline as in the original, the writers had the freedom to alter much as well. And alter they did .... Spock and Uhura!

So the plot was satisfying, but so were the characters and their chemistry - I thought they did a really good job with Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), and I liked Bruce Greenwood as Christopher Pike (remember him?). There was even a green Orion, though she wasn't a dancing girl but an academy cadet :)

- Kirk

Not so great, though, was the science - much depends on a substance called "red matter" but it's entirely fictional, and I believe getting sucked into a black hole would more likely squish and toast you than send you back in time. Still, the special effects were very nice.

Here's just a bit from the review in The New York Times .....


[...] Kirk and Spock don’t meet in person until they’re adults — now played by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto — at Starfleet Academy, which, in keeping with the show’s liberal leanings, is in San Francisco. At school Kirk flirts with Uhura (Zoë Saldana), a hot number who coolly brushes him off, and makes friends with a doctor, Leonard McCoy, a k a Bones (Karl Urban, wild-eyed and funny). Kirk also comes smack up against Spock, an officious instructor. In the tradition of many great romances, the two men take almost an instant dislike to each other, an antagonism that literalizes the Western divide between the mind (Spock) and body (Kirk) that gives the story emotional and dramatic force as well as some generous laughs.

Those laughs never slide into mockery. Mr. Abrams doesn’t treat “Star Trek” as a sacred text, which would be deadly for everyone save the fanatics. But neither does he skewer a pop cultural classic that, more than 40 years after its first run, has been so lampooned (it feels like there are more “South Park” parodies than original episodes) it was difficult to see how he was going to give it new life. By design or accident, he has, simply because in its hopefulness “Star Trek” reminds you that there’s more to science fiction (and Hollywood blockbusters) than nihilism. Mr. Abrams doesn’t venture into politics as boldly as Mr. Roddenberry sometimes did, though it’s worth noting he does equate torture with barbarism.

The barbarians here are the Romulans, who at one point in television time used to look a lot like Spock, but here resemble a Maori motorcycle gang complete with facial tattoos and Goth threads. Led by the glowering psychopath Nero (Eric Bana, an actor who knows how to take villainy seriously), the Romulans are mainly on hand to provoke the Starfleet cadets into space. There Mr. Abrams shows off some expensive-looking special effects, including an enemy warship that, with its enormous, grasping tendrils, by turns resembles a monstrous jellyfish and a malignantly blooming flower. The film comes down on the side of hope, but its apocalyptic interludes, including the image of a planet imploding into gray dust, collapsing like a desiccated piece of fruit, linger.

Despite these visions, the flashing lasers and latex aliens, “Star Trek” is fundamentally about two men engaged in a continuing conversation about civilizations and their discontents. Hot and cold, impulsive and tightly controlled, Kirk and Spock need each other to work, a dynamic Mr. Abrams captures with his two well-balanced leads. Mr. Quinto lets you see and hear the struggle between the human and the Vulcan in Spock through the emotions that ripple across his face and periodically throw off his unmodulated phrasing. Mr. Pine has the harder job — he has to invoke Mr. Shatner’s sui generis performance while transcending its excesses — which makes his nuanced interpretation all the more potent. Steering clear of outright imitation, the two instead distill the characters to capture their essence, their Kirk-ness and Spock-ness .......


Here's a trailer for it ...


Blogger Deacon Denny said...

It was a GREAT movie. I'm proud to be a Star Trek fan, from the original series through Next Generation and Voyager, and I also loved almost all of the full-length movies and a lot of the books.

Yes, the plot was good, the science was pretty lame, and the characterizations were magnificent. I loved the appearance of the "original" Spock and how well it's woven in.

I saw the movie twice; maybe it's time for another viewing...

12:19 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

I really liked it too - my sister even watched it and liked it and she's not much of a star trek fan. I've read there are already two sequels in the works :)

12:45 AM  

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