Saturday, May 16, 2009

Star Trek!!!

OK, so I'm getting away from Lost again... but once you see the new Star Trek film, you'll see it's not THAT far from our favourite ABC show.

This is a review without any major spoilers, so feel free to read ahead. I have to admit off the top, I wouldn't consider myself a Trekkie. I feel that Trekkies (and by the way, I do NOT see that as a derogatory nickname, being the insano Lostie that I am) know a billion things about the series, and where I'm just following Lost, they can tell you minutiae about TOS, TNG, Voyager, DSN, and Enterprise. And all of the movies. I've seen most of the movies, all of TOS and TNG, some of DSN, maybe an episode or two of Voyager, and the pilot ep of Enterprise. My husband, on the other hand, Mr. Snicker on the nights of Lost ("GEEZ how you do you remember all that useless information about this show?!") has seen pretty much every episode of every incarnation and every movie at least a half dozen times, at least once in the theatre. And despite most critics denigrating the last few movies, hubby thought they weren't as bad as some people thought.

So halfway through this movie, I was thinking, "Wow, he must be SO freakin' excited right now!!!" I know I was. In a word, it's stunning. The look of it is amazing, the sound is incredible, the acting is great, the storyline is at times hilarious, at times touching, and I was captivated the entire time.

Did it have its flaws? Of course. There's one relationship in there that some of you may have heard of that had me going, "Wait, what?? Why?" But I chose to just ignore it. I hope they drop it in sequels, because it did nothing for the storyline, as far as I'm concerned. The casting, though (for the most part) was inspired. The actor who does a younger Chekhov had his ridiculous accent down pat ("We will be arrivink at Wulcan werry quickly"), and was very entertaining. Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) plays Scotty, and is HILARIOUS. Every time he opened his mouth, people in the audience were giggling. Karl Urban (who will forever be Cupid from Xena to me, even though I adored him in LOTR as Eomer) is pretty amazing as Bones. At first I thought he was doing a bit of a caricature of him, but then I realized the character was always played very over the top in a wonderful way by Deforest Kelley, and the only way to pull that off is to be equally so. Chris Pine was really good as Kirk, even if they maybe went a little bit too far in the whole, "ooh, look what a rebel he is" thing. But frankly, he rejuvenated a character that has long been staid for me. Zoe Saldana and John Cho are good as Uhura and Sulu respectively, though this new Uhura is very different than the one we previously saw (in my opinion; maybe really diehard Trekkies would totally disagree with me on that one). The real tour de force, though, is Zachary Quinto. Oh, how you have been wasted on that piece of crap we call Heroes. This is what he was born to do. He is BRILLIANT.

Of course, there were some casting moments in there that made me go, "HUH?!" When Spock's mother meets him in a hallway and talks to him in a fake gravelly voice that's far too wretched for her years, I thought, "Man, this is as bad as that horrid old woman voice Winona Ryder did in Edward Scissorhands and ZOMG, wait, that IS Winona Ryder. Wait, what??" And then Kirk must stand before the Starfleet Academy to answer for something he's done, and I'm watching and thinking, "I know that guy from somewhere... the dude who's talking. Wait, is... um... is that guy... Tyler Perry?!" It was.

So those were a little odd, but they didn't really take away from the film. Lost fans will find much to rejoice over in this. Damon as executive producer; JJ as director; Orci and Kurtzman as writers; Burk as exec producer; Giacchino as music composer... not to mention that if, like me, you actually read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking in season 3, you will be able to follow this SO much better. Be prepared for talk of space-time and black holes and time travel and EEEEE!!!!! SO. HAPPY.

And somehow in the first 15 minutes of the film my eyes were welling with tears over people I barely knew. How does a movie pull THAT off? Nice.

And as I think EVERYONE knows by now, Leonard Nimoy appears in the movie, and he's great. William Shatner apparently blithered on in the press about how upset and boo-hooey he was about not being in it, but there was absolutely no place for him. Nimoy was it. He was perfect.

We emerged from the theatre and I was shocked to discover that my husband had lots to gripe about. That relationship I mentioned bothered him way more than it did me, and the flaws I've mentioned really bothered him, too. I said, "But after the last 5 films have put me to sleep, and you said they weren't that bad, how could you say this didn't basically light a fire under a dying franchise?" He just shrugged and said there were several superfluous moments. Yes, there were a few, but hopefully JJ is taking them somewhere (oh yes, sequels are already in the works). He includes nods to the fans in there (how I loved that Captain Pike was so prominent in it!) but allows you to watch this with fresh eyes if you don't know Spock from a spork.

But without giving anything away, JJ includes a plotline in there that now allows him to go wherever he wants with this franchise. Hell, he can kill off Sulu in the next movie when Sulu is 23 and it wouldn't actually be inconsistent with the other films, believe it or not. I think that alone was worth the price of admission. Watching JJ Abrams take something as sacred as Star Trek and make it his own, taking it out of the hands of everyone who went before him while simultaneously paying homage to them?? That is the mark of an auteur.

I now give permission for people to spoil away on the comments boards if they've already seen the film. If you haven't seen it, please avoid the comments until you have! I want to know what you thought. Did you like it? Do you think JJ revived the thing or did he wreak havoc on something you think he shouldn't have touched?

UPDATE: To make this a little more Lostish, I meant to post Jorge Garcia's brief review of the film (worth checking out for his funny pics at the end!) :)


stevenm said...

Good, but not great. A lot funnier than I expected. Sequels will be much better.

One gripe: Did I miss something, or did a character land alone on a remote planet, run away from two monsters, take shelter in an ice cave, and by chance run into another character with absolutely no explanation as to how that could happen? Huh?

Nikki Stafford said...

Hi Steven! I think the explanation was that they had just been near Vulcan when Kirk was ejected by Spock onto the planet, and the pod would have landed on the closest planet, so that was the one. Older Spock was there because Nero wanted him to have a front-row seat to Vulcan's destruction, so again, that is the closest planet. And as for how remote it is, the pod tells Kirk there's a Starfleet station 14 kilometres away, so there was someone close by. It's not like they were the only two humans on the planet, presumably (if I was understanding the pod's transmission correctly).

humanebean said...

I actually found the film very entertaining, lots of nods to TOS fans (didn't know what that meant at first ... had to think about it for a minute ; ) and just enough cheese to REALLY pay homage to the show.

I have to say, though, that I had the same gripe with it that I did MI3 ... it really felt like a TV show on the big screen. Now, I'm sure this sounds like an incredibly stupid thing to say about a movie that originated AS A TV SERIES but I honestly felt that many of the previous films were more cinematic. Griping completed, Cap'n.

Other than that, I agree with all of your comments on the major characters, Nik, including the fact that Zachary Quinto was brilliant as Spock. I must have been the only person in the world who DIDN'T know that Leonard Nimoy was going to be in the movie, so it was a genuinely pleasant surprise when he appeared.

I described it to friends as "a great big exploding ball of cheese" - and I mean that in a GOOD way.

Karen W. said...

I was thinking it was because Old Spock remembers when his younger self sent Kirk there (after all, how can you forgot the day you saw your planet destroyed?) so he was able to be waiting for Kirk where he knew he sent him in the past?

Does this make sense to anybody but me? :)

I enjoyed the movie a lot and agree with most of what you said, Nikki. I'm not sure what was up with that Spock/Uhura relationship, and Uhura seemed to be the least like the character we know later on, but overall, it was a lot of fun, and the cast did a wonderful job.

I loved seeing the beginning of the Kirk/Spock friendship, and I thought Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto (especially) were excellent.

I look forward to the next movie! (And I *am* a hardcore Trekker, especially of the original show.)

Karen W. said...

By the way, my original comment was my idea of an explanation for how Spock was waiting for Kirk on that planet.

I thought my comment would be right under Stevenm and Nikki's, but someone typed faster than I did. :)

Megan said...

I loved the details: all of the actors had obviously studied up and knew EXACTLY how to play their characters. The exception was the actress who played Uhura: I thought she was forgettable and unrecognisable.

I was totally confused until I figured out it was supposed to be an alternate timeline. Like you, I think this was a great move: it allows them to tell any story they want from here on.

I wasn't keen on the story itself (what story?) but I thought it set the pieces in the right places for the inevitable sequels. There's no point in doing it this way unless there are going to be sequels, right?

stevenm said...

My point was more about running into a specific ice cave and Spock being there. I'm prepared to cut the guys a lot of slack but that just plain confused me. Also, if there was a base a short 'stroll' from there, why didn't Spock go there and try and stop his planet being destroyed? As commented, maybe Spock knew what was going to happen, but is there any suggestion of that?

I've always felt that Trek was on thin ice with its internal science. Warp speed and beaming can easily be abused to explain people getting from one place to another superhumanly, and for me, that can take out a sense of 'journey'.

The movie did however succeed where it mattered - character.

Anonymous said...

I hated Kirk. Not the Shatner.

I wanted the red monster to bite his head off.

I liked parts. Mostly I didn't. I did like that relationship you mentioned, oddly enough (unless you meant Kirk/McCoy).

Yes, I'm a Trekkie.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking it was because Old Spock remembers when his younger self sent Kirk there (after all, how can you forgot the day you saw your planet destroyed?) so he was able to be waiting for Kirk where he knew he sent him in the past?
I don't think so, because time has been changed. Older Spock wouldn't remember something that never happened to him.

You sure this isn't the Lost post?

B.J. said...

I also thought it was brilliant. I was really irked at Shatner's boo-hooing over his not being included months ago, and when I saw it, I agree with you, there was no place for him.

Unfortunately, the way they tied the universe together for the new reboot as an alternate reality from TOS sets it up so that there is the possibility of that particular timeline's Kirk being included since the one who died in Generations never died in that timeline. But then that begs the question of how much of that timeline has been established (all of it at once or is it a linear creation that only exists as it is run through its first time), which is something I doubt JJ and his crew will even begin to tackle. That said, it will likely be left open for Shatner to be in a sequel at some point. Boo.

I think it is fine without Shatner since I've been irked about him since I read on Wil Wheaton's blog years ago about Shatner treated him on set. I wish I still had a link to that story, but needless to say it was the worst example I'd heard of regarding Shatner's ego trips, and since it was first-hand, I gave it some weight. I can't think of anything I've watched with Shatner in it since, honestly.

JJ said...

I really liked the film. I can name a few things I dislike, but they're just nitpicks.

Things I liked:

1. Terrible things happen to Kirk. Over and over again. I love to laugh at the new Kirk (now 500% more dickish than Shatner Kirk!).

2. The first ten minutes. Wow.

3. Zachary Quinto. So many actors would approach a role like Spock and try to calculate how robotic they should act, but Quinto is completely natural and it showed.

4. The redshirt's demise. It wasn't (just) played for laughs; it was used the way redshirt deaths are for -- to show that the situation is perilous and the main characters are in real danger. Also, IT WAS YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT, YOU MORON!!!

5. "We would rather die in agony than accept help from you!"
"Okay." KABOOM.

And a ton of other stuff.

Things I didn't like:

1. Nero was really a letdown. He seemed to have so much promise, too. We learn he has some anger-management issues (see first ten minutes, above), then that he's actually quite affable -- "Hi Christopher, I'm Nero." But then we learn his motivations, and it's just pathetic how paper-thin they are. It's a true shame, seeing as how he is personally responsible for more permanent (non-retconned) deaths of Federation citizens than every other Star Trek villian PUT TOGETHER!

2. Douchebag Kirk. I know why he's a douchebag in this timeline, but I don't have to like it.

3. Zoe Saldana. She's barely there a lot of the time, and if you're going to recast a role defined by the voluptuous Nichelle Nichols, why choose just another skinny supermodel-type?

And a few other things.

Lisa-Maladylis said...

we saw it yesterday in the local IMAX (which is a must for this movie) and wow, it was fantastic ! Yeah, I had a couple parts that were blah but I thought for the most part it was awesome ! I didn't like that the huge screen and all the moving about the film took set off my vertigo so much that I was nauseous for 8 hours after but it was worth it !

B.J. said...

JJ: I never really saw Kirk as being a douchebag. Kirk always seemed to be written an arrogant, egotistical character, and (I think) Chris Pine just exaggerated those characteristics while not falling into Shatner's traditional speech patterns, which made it feel like a whole new character for me (which is a good thing, as I really tire of TOS's Kirk). I really felt he gave those negative characteristics a charismatic spin.

Michelle said...

I loved it and I've never seen any other Star Trek film before. (maybe that's why I didn't have anything to gripe about)


asiancolossus said...

Loved the movie Nikki, and yes I know what you mean with the whole Lost connection.

As for the relationship that you are saying did NOT work...not to give it away but I think I know which one, because I kept shaking my head whenever these two characters were together on screen. I just have one word....


Nurse Brian said...

I thought the movie was pretty good! Not perfect, but definitely great.

I don't think anyone's mentioned it here but did anyone else catch how much lens flaring there was throughout the movie? Almost every scene had some sort of "shine" to it!

I totally LOVED the red-shirt death. I laughed to myself when I realized the guy was sporting a red spacesuit, instantly thinking "$1 million bucks says he's dead in the next 5 minutes".

LOL, and I had no idea that the guy who played Bones was Eomer!!!

You'd think something non-Lost related on your website wouldn't have to do with time travel... I snickered in my head, "Tee hee, Spock unhinged the frozen donkey wheel."

Robbie said...

I've never seen anything Star Trek ever (well like 2 minutes here or there of random episodes of random series), but I really liked this movie! It didn't make me want to see the shows though, don't know if that was its mission, it was probably to get me to see sequels, which I will.

JW said...

Loved it. I think the best Star Trek films are the ones that work for the fans of the series while also being accessible to regular film goers who just want to see a good flick. Star Trek IV, First Contact, and this latest one do that the best.

Andrew said...

Loved the movie! I agree with most of the positive comments and have an explanation for all the negative ones, LOL.

All actors play their roles perfectly. Chekov was SOOO ANNOYING, it's distracting! just like the original one.

And with the alternate timeline there'll be room for so much coolness, bring in alternate-KHAN, played by LOST's Nestor Carbonell, if you please Mr. Abrams...

Loretta said...

The last 5 movies bored you to tears? You're honestly saying you didn't enjoy First Contact?!

groovyghosthunter said...

I LOVED the movie and I'm an UBER Star Trek fan. Although I could have done without the "relationship" I felt like casting was dead on and it had the humor the original show had. I'm ready to see it a third time!

Nikki Stafford said...

Loretta: No, you got me there. I actually did enjoy First Contact, very much. :)

stevenm: I was out today with my kids and husband for a walk and was telling him about your nitpick (i.e. the ice cave and the convenience of it all) and he said, "ABSOLUTELY" and agreed with you 100%. And I never followed up, but you're right about them both just happening to stumble into exactly the same cave... unless they were dropped into the same spot and that same monster always chases people there?

OK, now I'm becoming an apologist for JJ. ;)

JJ: Your comment was bang-on. I agreed with the things you loved, and with the things you hate. To add to the things you love: Scotty arguing with that little mechanic creature he's with. "You could eat like... A BEAN!!" Hahahahaha!!

Oh, and I'm free to say it on here (as are any of you) but yes, the Uhura/Spock thing was SO over-the-top. I mean, he always comes off as almost asexual and they kind of ruined it with that.

I didn't like Zoe Saldana. I was trying to be nice in my review, but as my husband said, "Were they trying to cast someone who just reminded everyone of Beyonce?"

leafonthewind88 said...

I went into this expecting "fast and furious" meets "starship troopers" (did you see the trailers, i expected to see Vin Diesel in a sleeveless Starfleet uniform and mandatory shades growling out "die hard and suffer" instead of the famous vulcan mantra,) and instead got a good sci-fi movie that reminded me why i liked Star Trek in the first place. The friendship between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Good call on the red shirt JJ. I turned to my brother in the theater and said "uh oh, dudes wearing a red suit". I could have done w/o the lil Kirk driving the car of the cliff jamming out to Beastie Boys scene. The barfight was all we needed to show that Kirk was a rebel w/o cause. I agree with you Nikki, having Captain Pike play a major role was really cool. Good stuff. I plan on seeing it again at Imax and the last sci-fi movie i saw twice at the theaters was Serenity.