Friday, May 15, 2009

FILM: Star Trek

On Friday, I skipped work and caught a morning matinee of the new Star Trek movie. (I knew it would be pretty low on George's list, so I'd best just go see it without him if I wanted to see it.) I'd heard good advance buzz, and was delighted to find it lived up to the hype. It was wonderful to see these old new characters again, and at the same time see them in a fresh new way with this prequel / reboot bringing on a whole new cast to play the younger versions of the classic crew. I have to admit that I'd missed a bunch of Star Trek movies over the years. The fourth one (the one that opened with fart jokes and Scotty banging his head into the bulkhead Three Stooges style, and ended with Nichelle Nichols degrading herself as a topless dancer) was so awful that the film franchise lost me for a decade or more. But this latest one, this one was well worth coming back for. The story of how the Enterprise crew first comes together really rings true, and it's great to see how the well-known characters and relationships got their start. Prequels can often feel contrived, especially with such established characters, but this one was very natural, and I just felt "of course that's how it must have been". And despite the well-worn plot device of time travel, it was used to very good effect for the story, for an excuse to bring in Leonard Nimoy as an older Spock, and most of all, as a vehicle to relaunch the whole franchise with familiar characters that are acceptably and intriguingly changed. Chris Pine, channeling James Dean, creates an awesome young Kirk, as an aimless Iowa farm boy with a penchant for bar brawls and driving vintage cars recklessly fast. Zachary Quinto recreates Spock beautifully, still the logical Vulcan, but with his human half more evident, creating a more nuanced character. Karl Urban is a brilliant choice as a young (and cute!) Dr. McCoy, while Zoe Saldana positively smolders as the sultry and fierce young Uhura. Bruce Greenwood was also notable as Captain Pike. If they make more Star Trek movies with the chemistry of this one, they'll have me for the next decade.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too greatly enjoyed Star Trek, and believe is works well as a stand-alone film, in addition to fitting into the near-half-century series of series. The acting and directing was far better than we've seen before, and the characters were far more subtle, complex and developed.

I have three criticisms: First, an early scene of the ship's interior looked more like an old Soho loft than a space ship, replete with steel i-beams with, um, rivets? While we may use metal alloys in 200 years, the rivet is sure to become obsolete within a few decades. The look and feel made me question whether I was looking at the past or future.

Next, it's quite unrealistic to have such young senior officers, and while battlefield commissions may jettison some far faster than during peacetime, Kirk goes from an O-1 to an O-6 in a couple weeks.

These two are minor, but third criticism isn't -- Uhura, the lone female officer, is nothing more than a glorified receptionist who looks like a vacuous supermodel and plays hard-to-get. The role was somewhere between cheap sexism and outright mysogeny.

And after 43 years of spanning the galaxy, you'd think we'd run into a gay character by now.

-- jeff hersh