Archive for May 14th, 2009

#1541: Star Trek

Kevin told me this was like a delicious beer after being in the desert for a long time.   Kevin was right.


This is how you do a summer blockbuster.

It’s by no means perfect, but Star Trek takes the original cast of characters and does more than reboot the franchise.   J.J. Abrams took a virtually lifeless franchise and managed to resuscitate it.   Then he gave it a makeover and taught it to tap dance.

While hardcore Trek fanboys may be wetting their pants in fury at the storyline, it puts Trekkies and newbies in the same place, storywise.  Nero, a bitter and furious Romulan, sees the destruction of his planet and travels back in time to inflict pain and suffering upon the person he feels is responsible for the death of his people.   Eric Bana as Nero is nigh unrecognizable but does a fantastic job as a smoldering villain who can only cling to his rage.   It is the only thing he has left.

Nero’s arrival in the past causes a schism and an ‘alternate reality’ forms, one that’s different in many ways from the Star Trek series.   Abrams and the writing team manage to keep it original and yet a fun, inspired homage to the ’60’s television show.   All the characters retain what fans loved the most about them, but veer in different paths than expected.  Spock and Uhura are makin’ out and Kirk’s daddy’s deader than a doornail; Scotty’s been assigned to a Hoth-esque ice planet when he meets up with Kirk and Chekov’s a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed lad of seventeen.   Sulu forgets to essentially disengage the parking brake the first time out of the docks.

Newbies to the Trek franchise will have no trouble keeping up.   Abrams and company didn’t forget about the old guard, though, and liberal references to the original series ranging from the obvious to the sly are sprinkled in throughout the movie.  (My personal favorite was the fact that any time a ship sustained a direct hit, Abrams cut to a scene of Engineering, complete with explosions and redshirts flying away from consoles.)

The casting director for this one deserves a raise.   Zachary Quinto’s Spock is a model of Vulcan logic and reserve with emotions barely visible in his eyes (at least until you get him around Uhura or insult his mommy).   Chris Pine nails Kirk’s cocky asshole bravado, right down to the smile and swagger.   Anton Yelchin makes a memorable mark as Chekov with about three minutes of screentime; John Cho makes Hikaru Sulu fucking badass as shit (who knew fencing was so cool?).   The real, real, real amazing cast member is Karl Urban, and thank god for that.   I’ve loved Urban for a really long time and it makes me sincerely happy to see him get a lot of accolades for playing an inspired Bones Mach II.   He gets some of the funniest lines in the whole thing – lines which could have come off as enormous clunkers in the wrong hands, but nails everything.   He was the audience favorite in my showing.  Zoe Saldana as Uhura is good, but I felt like something was strangely lacking.   I’m not sure what.  And Simon Pegg as Scotty is adorable – and his little friend, too.

Star Trek is great fun.   It has a little of everything mixed in the right amounts moved along at proper speed.   It is probably the only movie in my memory that an entire audience flooded out of a theater asking to go right back in – I even saw two guys go to a ticket counter to buy tickets for the next showing to see it again.   Never in my life have I seen people so uniformly giddy about seeing a movie AGAIN in the theater.   Everyone I know who has seen this film wants to go back, again and again and again.

This thing has got legs, that’s for sure.

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