Monday, May 11, 2009

Film Review: Star Trek

While in New York City, I caught the new Star Trek flick.

It was pretty good.

I had avoided trailers for the film, so only little bits and pieces had been spoiled for me beforehand. I had a general idea of the "look" of the film, but didn't know who was in it aside from Heroes' Zachary Quinto as Spock, Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg as Scotty and some new guy as Kirk.

The new guy, Chris Pine, was a home run as Kirk. He was charming and had the right amount of balls (no, not "two") mixed with brains.

Scotty was fine, though not used much, so it was hard to care.

Anton Yelchin (Chekhov) was a bright spot. Karl Urban was a surprise choice as Bones, but did a fine job. John Cho (Sulu) was ok. Zoe Saldana (Uhura) was more than wallpaper, which was good - and bad. But I won't blow that here.

I didn't know Eric Bana was in it. In fact, I didn't even recognize him. I knew I knew the actor, but I couldn't put my finger on who it was. I quite like him normally, but in this he was just another weak Star Trek villain. The story wasn't really about the good guys and bad guys - it was an origins story, basically. In that regard, it did a decent job.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Bruce Greenwood - he's a solid actor and did well as Christopher Pike.

The primary disappointment was the one area I thought this movie was safest - Spock. Zachary Quinto was a more than capable Spock, but the writers completely dropped the ball. I hated what they did to Spock. Because of the basic premise of the film (which I won't blow here) the writers had carte blanche when it came to Kirk and, to a certain extent, plot. But it does not really explain why this film's Spock is so different from the "original" Spock. In my opinion, the writers lost sight of what makes Spock so appealing - his cool exterior. By making him more "human" they've lost the detachment and perspective a character like that can offer and have made any "emotion" emanating from him seem like no big deal. Spock was, in many regards, the most emotionally developed character in the film. That sucked.

The other big letdown was the music. If you are going to go in a different direction from the long-established tune, make it worth it. The music was hardly noticeable and certainly not memorable.

The plot and premise? Well... It was hardly original. We've seen this sort of thing before. But the good thing is that it gives the writers carte blanche going forward - which I assume was the point. There were a few too many leaps in logic for my taste (pardon the pun). For example, the "substance" which plays a pivotal role? Come on....

The worst scene made me think of "there's always a bigger fish." (if you get that reference...)

Overall, I quite liked this film. It looked great. It could have been better, but it could have been a heckuva lot worse.


Dan Misener said...

Hot damn. Angry rants about coupon book restaurants _and_ movie reviews?

He's back!

I want to see this movie, but no one will go with me. Want to see it again?

Alison Jutzi said...

I really enjoyed the film, despite being a Star Trek neophyte. I enjoyed the subtle comedic moments.

dicampbell said...

Okay ...

So i promised questions. Here they be:

(1) What the hell IS Uhura's first name? I barely heard it when I was watching the film.

(2) Spock and Uhura? Interesting. But really? (So, not really a question.)

(3) re: Spock and the time-travel element - WTF? I'm no science-fiction adherent. But isn't there some unspoken rule about effectively eliminating yourself if you meet a version of yourself from another time period? Or is this the loophole? I don't understand.

(4) Chris Pine, aka the new Kirk ... did he add just enough of the camp factor seen in Shatner's version of the character from the 1960s? Did he, in actual fact, "out-Shatner" the Shatner (as I've heard someone say in his personal opinion of the film)? Or did his interpretation just come across as "meh"? Discuss.

(5) Do you think any future Star Trek movies with this cast (or a similar one) have potential to improve? Or will they fall short?

That is all from me for now.

PS said...

Aha! Questions...

1. Nyota. (Note Uhuru means "freedom" apparently. Nyota means "star". Check out the Wikipedia entry for more on the origins of the character's name.)

2. Yeah, I hated that. Why was Spock so different from the original Spock? Since HIS dad didn't die, why such a departure? But I guess once you establish it's an alt universe, anything's fair game.

3. I don't know about that. I think it's been true in some sci-fi stories, yes. Especially if your alter-ego is from an "anti-" universe. As for time travel, it seems the rules change every time out (can you change things or not? Is there one universe or several?). I would have preferred Nimoy not be involved in the way he was. I thought that was kinda lame, but he was the explanation for Nemo's actions (also lame).

4. I don't know if I'd call Pine's performance "campy", but he did make the Kirk character "ballsier" than Shatner's. Shatner's boldness seemed to come from wisdom, experience and belief in what was "right", whereas Pine's Kirk just goes balls out in a sort of perpetual game of chicken - he bets the other guy will flinch first. He still has the sense of morality, but he is certainly far from "wise". I liked Pine's performance, though.

5. Future movies wil be let-downs because they don't have the benefit of the curiosity factor. This film had the benefit of being not only an origins story, but the audience spends half its time relating these characters to the original ones. Now that we've established back stories and that they are different (different universe), we won't be doing that so much - they'll have to stand on their own. Good luck.