Monday, May 18, 2009

STAR TREK

NO SPOILER ALERT REALLY NECESSARY!!!

The trailer tells you more than I will.
What’s more implausible, time travel or a summer blockbuster that doesn’t disappoint? STAR TREK kicked ass – on both accounts. Okay, some of the rocking in the theater might have been from the 4.7 earthquake but the effects were good too.

J.J. Abrams, who understands that the key to a good action flick is the story and not how many explosions you can set off in two hours, does a nifty job in re-energizing the musty Star Trek franchise. Seeing the Enterprise crew when they were young and brash and could fit into their velour uniforms was inspired. STAR TREK meets the MUPPET BABIES.

Newcomer Chris Pine was terrific as the young Captain Kirk. I’m sure in forty years he’ll make an excellent Denny Crane too. Zachary Quinto did young Mr. Spock proud. There must be some Vulcan in his family somewhere because he brought a real believability to the role. Winona Ryder played his mother, always shrouded in a hood and robe – all the better to lift props when no one was looking.

The young Bones, Chekhov, Sulu, and Uhura were all there and "admirable" but Simon Pegg as Scotty almost stole the movie. Quick aside: We did an episode of ALMOST PERFECT where there was a STAR TREK convention and we wanted members of the original cast to guest. We inquired about Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura and she passed saying she didn’t “do episodic”. What?? We got Walter Koenig and he was great. Again, we thank him for slumming it and doing network television.

Leonard Nimoy appeared as the elder Mr. Spock. Vulcan dental work is apparently no better than earth’s. But I loved seeing this beloved STAR TREK original. I wonder if they asked about Nichelle Nichols and she said she didn’t “do prequels”.

Query (as Spock might say): Do all space villains other than Darth Vader have to look like Ming the Merciless from FLASH GORDON? Eric Bana’s evil Captain Nemo was Ming but after a drunken night in San Diego that resulted in elaborate face tattoos. But he was a worthy adversary and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard a super villain say, “Hi!”

Kudos to Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman for their thrills & spills screenplay. And thanks for not making STAR TREK “dark” like every other super hero/action/adventure franchise. Yeah, Kirk’s dad died but it’s much more fun to see him raise hell than become goth boy.

The pace was great, the action sequences boffo, and all your favorite STAR TREK gadgets were there – phasers, beaming people aboard, heat shields, Vulcan mind melds, even phones.

And if you’re into having sex with green women, this movie is for YOU!!

STAR TREK – I give it 5 stars, 2 galaxies, and 1 1/2 novas (I had to take 1/2 off because Captain Nemo's enormous spacecraft was black. How many fender benders with other spacecraft is that gonna cause because you just can't see it in the dark?)

35 comments:

Dave Mackey said...

Do you know who Chris Pine's dad is? Robert Pine! That's right, the man who would be Shatner was sired by Sgt. Gertraer from "CHiPs"!

WC is "rellu" - one of the Ikea family of fine companies making Scandinavian furniture kits.

gottacook said...

Ken, it sounds like you didn't have any complaints at all about AbramsTrek - what about the overuse of shakycam, closeups, and lens flares (sometimes all three in combination) that even some viewers who like the acting and the story have complained about? Or did none of that get in the way of your enjoying the movie?

onthe1sand2s said...

could not agree more! the movie was a blast from beginning to end, avoided all potential potholes, and made me excited about Star Trek for the first time since the original went off the air.


the homage was so perfect that Uhura even rocked the absurdly long fake eyelashes just like Uhura The First. and the action was made modern, smart and current with the shakey camera, closeups and lens flares that gottacook complains about.

creating a new reality by going back in time allows the franchise to live and breath without having to answer to the Trekkies, Trekkers and morons who would nitpick the subsequent films in the new franchise to death.

JJ Abrams, g'wan wit yo' bad self.

B.

gottacook said...

onthe1sand2s: I'm not complaining about it - I haven't seen the movie yet. But I've read plenty of discussions at many different sites that do include lots of complaints. Even Abrams says he went overboard with the flares (see the several-paragraph-long answer to an interviewer's question at http://io9.com/5230278/jj-abrams-admits-star-trek-lens-flares-are-ridiculous). As for me, even shakycam on TV is a bit queasy-making, so I'd rather not purchase a ticket to subject myself to it in a theater...

That said, I'm glad that Ken and a lot of other people enjoy the movie. But I must share one amusing observation from longtime blogger and Trek-knowledgeable person James Lileks: Young car thief James Kirk joyriding in the 24th century while listening to 20th-century rock "is like someone stealing a Prius today and CRANKIN' UP THE SCARLATTI."

AHomer said...

The trailer already turned me off. The whole epic focuses on a James Kirk who has to "grow up" so we see first examples of his over-exuberance in the manner of a frat boy at a kegger, with the depths to match, and then to really show us just how apple-pie everyday he is, we get to hear him with the Hollywood patented AAAuthenticity yell of "wooooooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooooo" at one point. It's Top Gun etc..cliches again, which just to remind, Star Trek TV 1 was precisely not that. In an era of TV and real combat soldiers they were NOT action based. This Star Trek is basically trying to appeal to action adventure lowest common denominator, where no one questions military. Star Trek never assumed it was a "norm", and NO one was going "wooooooooooo hooooooooooooooooooo" except at the risk of ending up on blooper reels. What made Kirk cool (I watched as a kid the original show) was that he did NOT speak like the average American tv actor, he was erudite, scripts had a certain tone, and spoke as if on stage, yes to the point of OVER-acting, but that was understood. It was the spaceship as stage. This movie is just another re-boot for nostalgia, Star Trek with the bits from Indy Jones / other action franchises perfectly worked in to satisfy the most audiences -i.e. safely. That's the only reason it's not "dark", it won't sell as much. Boring in general.

Tiffiny Kaye Whitney said...

GOod review...but unless you were trying to be funny (in which case, I didn't think the joke was placed well)...it's Captain Nero like the Roman emperor, not "Nemo" like the fish or the fictional prose character in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

Jim said...

Clearly hair transplantation techniques in the 21st century are going to be impressive. If some of those hairlines continue to advance at that speed then people in the Starfleet old folks home will be spending half the morning shaving their foreheads.

The Milner Coupe said...

I couldn't agree more. I wasn't a big fan of the show or movies but this movie is great. The homages were right on and respectful. No one had to make the role their own, and in not doing so, did.

The only misstep in the film for me was the rather lame vette sequence with the bleached kid. Didn't fit.

I thought all the actor's were great but in the last scene at the bridge, when Pine pauses ever-so-slightly in his entrance as the ultimate tribute to Shatner's style, he had made a new fan.

Can't wait for the sequel. Aloha

Eric said...

I was ready to really dislike this movie, but on the same token, I saw Star Trek V when I KNEW what it was going to be - so I gave this a chance.

Now, I admit that I'm a Trekker ("Hi, Eric") and I was ready to tear this movie to pieces.

I didn't get the chance.

The differences are well accounted for, and save for three or four things that were STILL violations of the Trek universe, everything is good.

I hate shakycam, mind you, and it didn't help the movie one little bit - but I was able to ignore it for the most part.

One thing I still don't get, though... a starship is a lot of mass to move around the universe... so why make it as BIG as possible? You could have held war games and a cotillion in that engineering space, and have room left over for the zeppelin races! A little reality would be nice... smaller space means less material required to build it, and less matter to move around, warp engines or not.

It's a really good movie. If you haven't seen it, DON'T pre-judge it. This Trekker ("Hi, Eric") did, and was disappointed in that judgment.

I remain,
Sincerely,
Eric L. Sofer
x<]:o){
The Bad Clown...

wv: obagg - "Look at the souvenirs I got at the inauguration! And look what they give you to carry them in!"

Anonymous said...

I saw it three times over the weekend. I can't help it, I just love it.

rob! said...

I loved it too. I thought it was a great combo of what made Old Trek great but making it fresh again for a, er, new generation.

We took my gf's 10year old nephew to the movie, and he had never really heard of Trek before. He walked out wanting to see more of Kirk and Spock, and was thrilled to hear there's a whole TV series and a bunch of other movies!

shuzluva said...

This is the first movie I've seen in a theater in over 18 months (little kids will do that to ya), and I'm thrilled to say I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I loved the storyline so much that I'd pay the $10 plus tax to see it again.

Thank you J.J. Abrams!

David O'Hara said...

Sorry,

but the trailer was a turn-off. Anybody who drives cars off cliffs is not qualified to command a vessel that can destroy planets.

Would you give a punk 20 year old a nuclear aircraft carrier to captain?

Is there a reason we don't have any kiddie captains in the US Navy?

I had a problem with Doogie Howser, but that was far more feasible than this.

A. Buck Short said...

OMG! Looks like that temblor shook the snark right out of you. We want our old Ken back. Velour uniforms? What a spoiler. All this time I was enjoying the image of Dr. Denton pajamas -- with the feet. And tell me you can’t picture John Malcovich smiling, “Hi?” Over exuberant frat boys at keggers don’t grow up to be Captain Kirk, they grow up to be Captain John McCain. Incidentally, mass has its place. The Enterprise just put in a bid for Super Bowl XLVIII. Favorable and otherwise, the reviews and comments may actually have convinced me to go see this, when it otherwise wouldn’t have been given a thought. I’d read the reviews and actually convince myself I’d seen it – like everything else. (Not that anyone asked but I typed “Superbowl” this morning in something else and spellcheck corrected to “Superb owl.” Yes, we are easily amused.)

Raymond said...

I'm happy to see that of all the former Star Trek cast, at least Walter Koenig is easy to work with. I'm impressed at his willingness to be associated with Chekov. He also guest-starred in a fan-produced episode of Star Trek and voiced himself in an episode of Futurama.

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

Never having been a Trekker (or Trekkie, as the case may be -- Trekkie -- isn't that a town in northern California?), and not a science fiction fan in general, am not sure whether I'll go see it at the theatre or wait till the DVD comes out. I just never got into the myth, the lore or the universe of the Star Trek franchise... So I hope you'll excuse me while I watch some REAL space adventure, and turn on the NASA website to see them repair the Hubble Telescope -- so someday some starfleet commander can save the Earth by smashing it directly into an approaching Klingon vessel...

BTW, any word on when the Tribbles get their own prequel?...

A. Buck Short said...

Did anybody ever ask if it would have been cheaper just to send up an unmanned rocket with a new telescope? Just asking. And do some of these crises that require another space shuttle flight seem a little manufactured to you, just so we don’t forget about the program? Oh wait, that’s Reality TV.

Anonymous said...

I think it says something about how bad big summer movies usually are and the depths to which the franchise sank that people are going so ga-ga over Star Trek reimagined as a generic sci-fi action flick.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good piece of entertainment that works a heck of a lot better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But when I see folks talking about it as "this generation's Staw Wars"...it's time to lay down the weed and get some fresh air.

Mike

Blogging in the wind! said...

Star Trek was just FUN! When was the last time you could say that about a movie????

Scriber said...

Wish I had some clever Star-snark to add, but it would be faking since I liked the movie.

I just wanted to use my WV: "knickfa..."

Which is a Brooklyn kid texting a fanboy message into sports talk radio, when-- THWACK-- he gets zapped with a phaser, set on stun.

LouOCNY said...

Do you know who Chris Pine's dad is? Robert Pine! That's right, the man who would be Shatner was sired by Sgt. Gertraer from "CHiPs"!And CHiPs featured,for two seasons, Michael Dorn, the future Worf from ST:TNG...

Vermonter17032 said...

Ken,

I agree completely. This was one of the best times I've had at the movies in years. My only complaint was the cheesy Russian accent from the young actor playing Chekov got really annoying after a vile.

Otherwise, this is a grade A entertainment and just lots of fun. I have a longer review at my blog, for any who may be interested.

Anonymous said...

Vermonter, seeing as how Anton Yelchin IS from Russia [even though he was 6 months old when they left] as are his parents...the Russian accent may not be to far off the mark and they probably don't think it's that cheesy. I've had Russian people work for me before and I was thinking how much he actualy sounded like them.

gwangung said...

This Star Trek is basically trying to appeal to action adventure lowest common denominator In other words, it was channeling Gene Coon, the OTHER main contributor to classic Star Trek...

Alan Coil said...

I am simply amazed at the number of people around the internet who saw the trailer, but never saw the movie, who insist that the movie sucks. And they seem to know all the details of the movie from reading the reviews by people who hate all Star Trek. The internet has become the Cliff's Notes of today, but without any critical quality.

Anonymous said...

Cliff Notes were good?

Trailers are just the compression format par excellence of the movies. They're like jpegs to the movie's fat tiffs. You know, you can come up with an algorithim to compact all those cliches and empty spaces between, and there you go: a trailer. A movie's expensive action shots and trademark yells or gimmick-catchphrases are composed with full knowledge that these will function perfectly as part of the "money shots" for the trailer. And by the way, the trailer is a LOT longer than decades before, and is included stretched out into those one-hour press kits that trawl for years over TV and so on. You basically only miss out on the shades character development -- ha,ha..seriously though, we ARE talking about Star Trek.

The main points are all missing from this re-boot, how can it be Star Trek? Star Trek was at its best, tension: Miniskirted crew members yet who all took an oath of celibacy; Playhouse 90 stage acting on a totally new kind of space ship interior; It was TV but Shatner was cast as a known film actor, not some young stud; it had a philosophy that was fairly "cool" but could also be patronizing the other planets, and so on... The fact that one can see the tropes (Cliff Notes time!) of Hollywood action films working in this trailer already, tells all you need to know.

Dhppy said...

I thought Bones stole the show. He was the most reminiscent of the original.

Susan said...

Thanks Ken - I was hoping you enjoyed yourself (aside from the earthquake). I have come to respect your opinions, and I would have been sad to disagree with you!
I loved the original series. I loved rushing home from school to watch the reruns. I watched most episodes of the subsequent series. I was really excited about and disappointed by the first movie. Loved the next three. Lost interest in the following ones. I also adored Galaxy Quest. But I never got lost in the DIMs (Deep Inner Meanings)of the whole Trek universe. It was, is, and always will be... entertainment. And yes, sometimes, social commentary - but on OUR time, OUR world.
Took my daughter - a Trek newby at 16 to the new film this weekend. She loved it. Didn't need any back story. I loved it. I loved the little nods to the original series and characters. From the laughter and snorts around me, so did others of a certain age. I want to see it again. I want the DVD.
Go, have fun, lose yourself a little. It's fun, exciting, action packed with hints of things past and yet to be, and I really want to see the next one!

Stella Louise said...

I agree totally that Simon Pegg almost stole the movie. Too bad his time on screen was so short. If he'd been given any more time, however, he most certainly would have walked away with the whole film.

lou said...

AHomer said...
"The trailer already turned me off. The whole epic focuses on a James Kirk who has to "grow up" so we see first examples of his over-exuberance in the manner of a frat boy at a kegger, with the depths to match, and then to really show us just how apple-pie everyday he is, we get to hear him with the Hollywood patented AAAuthenticity yell of "wooooooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooooo" at one point. It's Top Gun etc..cliches again, which just to remind, Star Trek TV 1 was precisely not that. In an era of TV and real combat soldiers they were NOT action based. This Star Trek is basically trying to appeal to action adventure lowest common denominator, where no one questions military. Star Trek never assumed it was a "norm", and NO one was going "wooooooooooo hooooooooooooooooooo" except at the risk of ending up on blooper reels. What made Kirk cool (I watched as a kid the original show) was that he did NOT speak like the average American tv actor, he was erudite, scripts had a certain tone, and spoke as if on stage, yes to the point of OVER-acting, but that was understood. It was the spaceship as stage. This movie is just another re-boot for nostalgia, Star Trek with the bits from Indy Jones / other action franchises perfectly worked in to satisfy the most audiences -i.e. safely. That's the only reason it's not "dark", it won't sell as much. Boring in general."

I grew up in the 80's and watched every episode of TOS(the original series. Every episode. And yeah, I'm one of those guys who has been waiting in agonizing anticipation, ever since the first teaser trailer(I don't even remember the movie I watched that night). So, I get it, ok?

Some fans refer to TOS as an allegory of the 60's, while others enjoyed the idea of a modern day fable set in space. Some of us just liked the easy to follow plotlines and memorable characters. It wasn't Shakespeare, and ILM didn't do the special effects, but that's besides the point. Somehow, Star Trek has resonated with so many fans(and fanbois), that it has become part of our pop culture, some 30 years after its cancellation.

What I don't understand, is how some fanbois reject the new Star Trek movie as populist dreck, made only for attention-deficit popcorn eaters. I respond with a resounding, "So what?" If the early box office numbers and reviews are any indication, AbramsTrek(nice, phrase, gottacook) will make tons of money and millions of people will be very entertained(that's kinda the point). And if that means a relatively small group of purists complain of sour grapes, then again, I say, "So what?"

gwangung said...

What I don't understand, is how some fanbois reject the new Star Trek movie as populist dreck, made only for attention-deficit popcorn eaters.
Coon's success in doing that in the 1960s is precisely one of the reasons why it lasted so long. Yes, you do have to have the humanist underpinnings, but you ALSO had to have the action adventure/populist blend to form the contrast. It simply isn't Star Trek without BOTH.

Matt said...

I LOVED Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless--He was also great as Blofeld in that unofficial James Bond film many years ago--a villain who knows how to have fun while plotting ruination, suffering, and possible coitus with Melody Anderson . . .

And now that Simon Pegg has appeared in a STAR TREK movie, can Nick Frost be far behind?

Leo said...

I saw this movie the other night. It was great. Definitely one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Zachary Quinto was amazing. I really didn't expect this movie to be that good, to be completely honest, but it totally exceeded my expectations.

Pseudonym said...

Rumour has it that Nichelle Nichols wanted to be in this movie as Uhura's grandmother, but J.J. Abrams couldn't write her in because of the timing of the strike.