Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek Review

I just got home from seeing Star Trek in IMAX at the Silverado 19 in Tomball. I have to say this movie was everything I hoped it would be. Those of you who read my first blog entry know I had some reservations about this film, but in general I was hopeful that Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman would uphold my high opinion of their work. Instead, they impressed me beyond my expectations, well above.

I am still basking in the afterglow, so my emotions are compromised, but I believe I can accurately state that this movie is by far the best Star Trek movie in terms of acting, production values and excitement. Some small part of me still holds up the Wrath of Khan as the best example of Star Trek on the big screen, and it is if your measurement is the Star Trek that grew up with.

Advertisements and interviews have told us that this new Star Trek is not our father's Star Trek. This is misleading. This movie was a distilled, refined, re manufactured bit of cinematic genius that took everything grand and amazing about Star Trek and made it fresh. Star Trek had staled over the years, become staid and antiquated. This film was made for today's audience and it was done just as I hoped it would be. It was Star Trek the way I would have made it, had I money, backers, a film degree and a resume that gave me nearly carte blanche to do as I saw fit.

Even the time travel premise, which I had my strongest reservations about, was not nearly so hokey as I feared it would be. It was treated with some courtesy and respect, and in the end explains every change to this reborn franchise with aplomb.

I could spend a lot of time on the casting. Every major role was cast perfectly, by an actor who could bring that characterback to the big screen, and not merely ape the efforts of it's original actor. Save Kirk, played by Chris Pine. This, however, is not my father's Kirk. This Kirk is so changed by the events of this timeline that to acted the same would be a disservice. Chris Pine was extremely likable, funny, smarmy, arrogant and endearing. In other words, Kirk just a little more flawed and lacking Shatner's distinctive and oft mocked staccato delivery. That staccato was very much a part of Kirk's j'ne se quoi, that ineffeable quality that made him larger than life. Pine's Kirk has that particular drawl of a man who really doesn't have anything to lose.

There are so many things about this movie to love. It was shot beautifully, there is a scene where the Enterprise rises through the rings of Saturn that was breathtaking. The scene showing the Academy of Science on Vulcan was perfect. This movie showed, rather than told, why these crew members were so influential in the success of Star Fleet. You understood that this crew was quite literally the best of the best, the most capable and talented cadets Star Fleet had mustered.

Everything I loved about the original series was in this movie, and divorced from the baggage I feel had born down the show over the decades. May Roddenberry rest in peace, but the Utopian principles of the Star Trek universe had never been fully realized, and as each writer attempted to bring it to the fore it became muddied and confused. This Starfleet is still a humanitarian force, a peacekeeping fleet to bring civilization to the frontier, but these men and women and others (in the case of genderless aliens) are not hippies in space. The repartee between the cast in this movie was almost Whedonesque in it's delivery, but I've always thought the contention between Bones and Spock was a huge influence on his writing.

I loved it. Simple as that. I came out of it hopeful for the sequel. I left the theater nearly buoyant with how damn good it was. I was impressed with how well they handled this movie, but nearly as importantly the class they showed in the small things. That Majel Roddenberry received special mention in the credits, that Leonard Nimoy's appearance was no mere cameo but meaningful and important, despite my fears it would be another so called passing of the torch and nothing more. I even loved that in the end credits the original theme was played.

As much as I loved it, I never was able to completely immerse myself. I watched this movie with a critics eye. Even so, I just could not find much to dislike. I noted details like the initial theme was played on a flughel horn with a bell mute, easily one of the most sonorous sounds in creation. I had a small, tiny, insignificant complaint. I felt the villain was weak, unexciting, but then Star Trek has never really been about the villains (Khan, withstanding).

This movie has changed my opinion of Abrams and his cronies. I've always liked them, but now they have entered the extraordinarily small pantheon of directors and writers that I will always give my full attention to. I now trust them in a way I do few others. That Kurtzman and Orci are fans was apparent, and that they chose not to listen to the wailing and beating of breasts from those most vocal of internet whiners was exactly the right thing to do. They followed their own vision of Star Trek and put their own artistic vision on the screen, and it was damn good.

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