Friday, May 8, 2009

Let's Talk About... Star Trek

So I saw Star Trek today and usually I'm not one to go all, "Let me share my feelings about this movie I like so much." But what can I say? I'm compelled. And, a little tired and lacking the proper restraint to just turn off my computer and go to sleep.

The movie starts off to a pretty great start. There is an Enterprise looking ship named the Kelvin investigating a weird lightning storm disturbance that they can't explain and onboard is none other than George Kirk. Who? Well that's Captain Kirk's dad who seems to be every bit bad ass as Kirk without any of the charisma but who the hell is Captain Kirk without charisma? (coughRikercough) Nobody that's who. Despite my having no real feelings for this dude who takes helm of this vessel after the first captain is all "Oh no, this Romulan dude with a face tattoo just stabbed the shit out of me," the scene that follows of his pregnant wife evacuating the ship whilst giving birth to her son and talking to George as he stays aboard to fight as his ship gets epically owned by those aforementioned tattooed Romulans is pretty damn moving. It could have been the over the top score or the flashy colors that were quite frankly, blowing my mind, but I thought it worked tremendously well and I got a little choked up as little James Tiberius Kirk was being named and his father knew he was right about to die.

From there, we get some shots of little Kirk stealing his step dad's car and rocking out to Beastie Boys and a scene where little Spock beats up a bunch of dickish little Vulcans for talking about his mom. You'd think its the 90s but it's not. Then of course, they age to right where they should be so the movie can get on with it. I'll be a little more ambiguous about the plot from here because that's entering some mighty dangerous spoiler territory and in the interest of those of you who want to watch this movie based on what I have to say about it (ha!)

What I will say though, is that walking into this movie, I had a pretty fair amount of faith in Zachary Quinto as Spock but I knew my enjoying this movie would be totally dependent on what I thought of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. If he sucked this movie would suck and if he rocked this movie will rock and I am pretty happy to say his performance much more closely resembles the latter option. Yeah, I'm sold. Chris Pine fucking ruled in this movie. Without doing a lame Shatner impersonation, Pine walks a very fine line between confidant and asshole and manages to be likable whilst getting his ass handed to him in nearly every fight of the movie and being a dick poor little Spock. It was the small things like the way he tilted his head and gave really breif pauses and subtle but odd emphasis to certain words that made him acceptable as Captain Kirk as the real thing is off doing the Raw Nerve and is not... you know... a spry twenty year old that is going to jump around shit like he's Batman the way Chris Pine does.

Which brings me to another thing I liked about this movie. Star Trek has been done a thousand times by now but I must confess, only The Original Series and Next Generation did I feel were worth my time. I felt like beyond that, they just tried too hard to be fresh and new and when I saw ads that said this isn't your grandpas star trek and star trek isn't JUST for nerds any more I got a bit uneasy in the stomach. Roger Ebert's big criticism of the movie seemed to stem from the fact that where the Original Series offered a lot of interesting moral dillemas, social commentary, and philisophical view points expressed in the form of oddly painted humanoid aliens, the new movie has shit blowing up. And that's a valid point but I don't think this movie was without its "ideas." Like the first Planet of the Apes, this Star Trek film seems to have a pretty strong question about free will and becoming who you are supposed to be. Sure, that's been done to death, but how many times has it been done with lasers and people with pointy ears? Don't answer that. Ebert seems to have been liking a lot of movies where the characters spell out the points of the movies in these big budget movies that are supposed to appeal to geeks. He loved The Dark Knight where they speak like characters in a Greek tragedy and pretty bluntly express their motivation which I can overlook because I get they aren't doing it for me. He similarly loved Watchmen for spelling out in plain speech all of its big ideas that were in the comic book but I'm not sure always needed to be said in a live action movie. Then again, a lot of the Watchmen stuff went right over a lot of people's heads anyways so maybe it wasn't so plain... Nevertheless, Star Trek brings more ambiguity to these ideas and I applaud them for giving the audience a tad bit more respect than to talk down to them like seven year olds the way I felt when Joker would break into a "we are so totally alike, Batman" monologue.

The point is, this movie adds a lot of the action and the shit exploding that the other series never really were able to have because of technology or budget issues or lack of vision or whatever. They just never had it and because the movies were a little drier than say, Star Wars, I think a lot of people rightfully couldn't get into it.

There are a lot of mythos to Star Trek that I think makes people more hesitant to watch movies called Star Trek but J.J. Abrahams and crew seem to wrap everything up in a shiny package and still maintain a lot of the elements that those damn Trekkies will love. I'm not the biggest fan relative to those crazed lunatics that get parodied all the time, but in the short time I've been into Star Trek, I've gotten pretty damn well acquainted with it and this movie does not let that part of me down.

So anyhow, Instead of trying to write a coherent review (not my strong point) Instead, I'll make a list of things that were awesome about it.

- Simon Pegg as Scotty. I was going into this with the totally biased standpoint that this would be the highlight of the movie to me because I love Scotty and I love Simon Pegg so... its just put two and two together, isn't it? He was just the same drunken, crazed, lunatic genius bastard that I expected to and wanted to see.
- Kirk destroying that Kobayashi Maru test, I didn't see that coming and it had the audience laughing like crazy.
- Spock Prime's first spoken line in the movie. Holy crap, I got a little teary eyed... but that might have been just because I had other things going on in my head.
- Checkov tweaking out and a bunch of people saying his name so it sounded like "jackoff"
- Sulu being a bad ass. Very rarely does fencing come in handy. I think when you have a super bad ass folding sword, and you are fighting on a platform that is shooting a giant lazer underneath you it just adds a little more drama to the occasion.
- Captain Kirk getting a proper heroes quest. Because every iconic character needs his very own hero quest Joseph Campbell style.
- That big freaking Romulan ship. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Romulan's with their cloaking devices used to be a little more subtle than creating massive black holes that their massive jacked up space ship that was constantly turtle-poking around in. Nice touch, doing a direct 180.
- McCoy. That is all.
- Not a Klingon in sight. Don't get me wrong, I love Klingons. They are such violent assholes, how can you not love them? It's just... they are so the stereotypical Star Trek bad guy. Romulan's are a little more off the map and won't turn off the people who probably associate Klingons too much with the overly geeky Trek image.
- Spock beating the living crap out of Kirk. He was just mad because he got so dissed by Kirk. There is a reoccurring trend where if you talk about Spock's mom, he has to go street justice on your ass from now on.
- Winona Ryder not getting beamed properly. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! What the hell you creepy little Russian!? I thought "You can do dis!"
- That obligatory Red Shirt Casualty. He was sooo dispensable.
- San Francisco getting jacked up. They just can't stay away from Cali, these space dudes.
- The smug satisfaction that this movie looks technically more impressive than ANY Star Wars movie by far and Star Wars has very little breathing room to make a legitimate rebuttal. OWNED.

So anyways, yeah. That's what I thought of the new Trek movie after like a little thinking and no sleep. Totally deserved its positive Tomatometer rating. I'll leave you with this.

1 comment:

Charlie Wilkins said...

I've been trying since you last posted up that Kirk vs xenomorph image, to come up with a plot for a story with them in. And somehow, it involves Spock getting infected, and McCoy being bad ass, and yes, obligatory torn shit fight scene.