Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can I call you J.J.?

Had to make mention of this article I found on a website I've never heard of. It's basically a listing of the 100 most creative people in the business, and my new kindred spirit J.J. Abrams is #14. Look at him. He looks like the kind of person who is really invested in his creative work, and reminds me of Jim Henson and George Lucas who always projected this deep commitment to reproducing their ideas. I love these geeky beautiful minds. Props to you J.J.

Since my blog is supposed to celebrate creativity and such, I couldn't pass this up. Check out the list at this link.

I confess I still need to peruse it in full, but I give them advance props for listing writer Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is a very good and very imaginative writer, a fact I can appreciate even if I do not absolutely love something he has done. I am so pleased at this I will even forgive them for including Tya Banks on that list. I may even blog about Neil sometime in the future. For now this is J.J.'s moment.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"My take on the Star Trek movie"; or "I need to go down a black hole to the past so I can watch this again!"

You know when you're watching something, and you have a pretty good sense that you're enjoying it, but then you have to analyze it later, and you find out that you really do like it, and you wish you could see it again? No? Well I guess that's just me.....

But anyway, I didn't just like the Star Trek movie, I LOVED it. Hurray!!! Thinking back on it now, I feel the warm fuzzies and the usual sad sensation that I won't be able to watch it for the first time again. However that does not prevent me from thinking back on favourite scenes with a smile.

(By the way, actually getting to see this movie was a crazy exercise involving exchanging tickets, getting in late to work and bad lighting in the Trinidad parliament. Crazy, but I won't go into the sordid details, suffice to say I got in.)

Instead of doing a controlled review, I am just going to dive in and go all out, flailing happily over what I liked about the movie, so sadly, if you have not yet seen it, I recommend you stay clear. I'm warning you, there will be major, major spoilers throughout!!!

*************HERE THERE BE SPOILERS***********************

Well before I go far, I need to talk about J.J. (Do you mind me calling you J.J., Mr. Abrams? Because I feel like we're friends now. Really! Let's do lunch sometime.) Anyway since he's the director, I lay all the greatness at J.J.'s feet because he's the beautiful mind who led the charge of rebooting Trek. I liked the story for this movie. It didn't drag. It didn't feel bogged down. The action sequences were grounded in the plot, and left me pressed to the back of my chair like I was going through G-Force (or Space jumping! Surely I would feel as if I left my stomach behind if I ever went crazy enough to do such a thing!)

I also thought this movie was great fun. Watching Kirk scramble all over the Enterprise while suffering from a crazy allergic reaction with Bones in hot pursuit was lovely self-hugging fun.

When I saw time travel was involved I just thought of Lost and smiled. Clearly J.J. likes his time travel stuff. I must also thank him profusely for not going all Lost on me and getting too caught up in the time travelling details and leaving my head spinning. I was able to keep my brain fairly well wrapped around what was going on, and what I missed I figure I can get on a second viewing.

The drama was definitely high drama with Eric Bana playing a Romulan. (He looked nothing like the Eric Bana I know by the way). Bana plays a Romulan called Nero with a fierce personal vendetta against Spock, and as my bFFF pointed out, apparently many Star Trek movies are fuelled by this sort of protagonist – remember Khan? Fascinating.

Finally the fact that J.J. makes this Star Trek story completely his own and shakes canon to create this whole new "alterna-verse" so he can do whatever he well pleases with this creation just boggled my mind. I need to start thinking more like J.J. Well played sir!

So as I said, in my previous post, we got a good story which goes with the best of Star Trek, but as usual for me, the characters made it all.

What did I like most about this movie? Um that would be Spock, and then there's Spock, and oh yeah! Spock! I knew way beforehand that Zachary Quinto would nail the Vulcan persona. I mean just look at him!

Yes, besides his obvious – ahem- physical mastery of this role, I've seen Quinto in Heroes, and I knew he could do it and what do ya know he DID!!! Of course we all know that Spock has emotions and all, but any actor who plays him has to show them under a deceptively cool exterior. Just being wooden and unemotional would not do and is most.....un-Vulcan. Witness when our Spock hears his mother subtly insulted by the Vulcan counsel. Spock doesn't lose it here, but he firmly declines his acceptance into the Vulcan Science Academy and thanks them for the honour. His final words are a traditional Vulcan expression. They are coolly and respectfully spoken, but we all know he's thinking "Live long and prosper a**holes." (Spock would never curse by the way. At least not out loud. We are so much alike.) Zachary (can I call you Zachary?) plays this scene really well as he does many others.

The way Spock's story was told was also killer. I loved that we got to see many key scenes in his life, and any show featuring little Vulcans is awesome with me.

We also get scenes of a Spock that loses control a bit more than normal. In my mind, it's because he's still a young Vulcan (and all those annoying human genes can wreak havoc with your psyche). Seeing Spock lose it is thrilling. For instance, his temper sparks his beatdown of Kirk which we've all been waiting for. (Well at least I was.) Seeing him maintain control is also awesome. I really have to commend Quinto's acting in these situations. He can play cool and aloof, and he can do passion simmering just below the surface oh so well.

He also looks the part. I try not to let my blogs descend into gushing (though you're free to do so in my comments), but what the hey, Quinto looks the part. He channelled Leonard Nimoy, but he was himself. He looked good even without his signature eyebrows. He got new ones and worked them. If you missed when he arched one of them, I sorry for you! Like I said, trying not to gush, but the eyes, the nose, the lips.......okay where was I?

This of course ties into the much touted relationship with Spock and Uhura. Actually what I like is that I actually haven't heard any hype about this, so this was all a surprise for me. I've never thought of those two as a couple, so when I realized that Uhura was not only attracted to Spock, but that the feeling was mutual, I was properly flummoxed. Ask anyone in the theatre near me. (Um I apologize everybody.) (Pause here to once again replay Spock and Uhura's goodbye in the transporter room. Sigh.)

Anyway the fact that this played against the typical motif of Kirk getting the girl was exhilirating. That aspect of Kirk has exasperated me at times. The fact that Spock ends up with the woman Kirk initially lusted after, and the fact that their connection is firmly established when golden boy realizes it just leaves me tickled. Zoe Saldana is excellent as Uhura, and I love her cause she helps make the couple something I love and not something I tolerate as I do with many movie couples. I hate her because I think I would make a better Uhura. What I can't wear short skirts and boots?

Of course, this movie gets extra points from me for having two Spocks for the price of one. Leonard Nimoy of course is the foundation for the icon which is my favourite Vulcan, and I was again pleasantly surprised when he proved to have a large and very significant part to play. The scene where the two Spocks meet is well done – understated and witty as it ought to be.

I must also give considerable praise to Chris Pine for playing Captain Kirk so well. Captain Kirk is a confusing character for me. William Shatner's portrayal can be corny and the aforementioned skirt chasing could be annoying, but I still liked the guy. Didn't love, but liked. Chris Pine does a lovely job making a sometimes overly confident hot shot charming without being annoying! That's a great acting feat in my opinion and bravo to him. I also enjoyed the numerous beatings this Kirk took, and no I am not sadistic, but my fellow Trek fan and BFFF pointed it out while we were watching. Kirk took a lot of blows and he took them with style. You got to respect him for that. Oh and you got to respect that Chris Pine has some of the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen. I remember them well from Smoking Aces. (If you know any better contenders please post them. I am interested.)

Very well done James Tiberius Kirk.

I'll be at this all day if I go into great detail about all the other characters, but I got to say something for Karl Urban as Bones. In short, the man IS Bones. Maybe he and DeForest Kelley are related somehow. They should check that out, do some DNA testing.

I predicted that Simon Pegg would make a wonderful Scotty, and I was right! But I will not take credit for that prediction as Simon Pegg is delightful in everything. That is a no brainer. This Scotty is kinda crazy which I like. (Observe his Shaun of the Dead crazy look.)

Even later when he's with the rest of the straitlaced crew in full uniform, he's clearly the oddball with his brain somewhere off in Centaur IV. I really liked how he handled his part.

A small mention needs to go to Anton Yelchin as Chekov. Frankly I never thought anything much about Chekov when I watched the series. When I saw the eager little, curly haired intern in the movie, I still didn't think much about Chekov, but in a few little short scenes he managed to charm me a lot. Nice. I was quite surprised.

Of course being me, I have to mention that this is not a perfect movie. (I am not sure what movie deserves that honour. In my mind it fluctuates.) I have to watch this movie again to verify this (oh poor me!), but at one point Spock loses it and beats the snot out of Kirk. (Poor Kirk). He loses control, and you can see he's not happy about it, but I do not know if he ever addresses that. Did he ever apologize? I may have forgotten, so correct me or argue with me if you like, I'm willing to listen. In fact, this movie at times seemed to suggest that giving in to his emotions is the way to go with Spock. I do not advocate the total lack of emotion Vulcans favour, but I don't care for the idea that the human way is the best way to go – at least not all the time. Yes, I'm saying that we shouldn't be prejudiced against the views of a fictional alien race, but Star Trek is about keeping your mind open to different points of view. To be fair, I think that type of human preference has been evident in the series before. I'm never a big fan of it when it comes up.

But I digress and am getting nitpicky. I'm glad my expectations of this movie were fulfilled and surpassed. J.J. really decided to "boldly go" and then he went . I'm already hearing sequel talk which pleases me and also fills me with fear because sometimes sequels aren't good and somehow degrade the first installment (in my mind), but this is being really nitpicky, I mean this isn't just a sequel, but it's the eleventh sequel (though I do like the term reboot better; after all, it worked for Batman).

What I will do is regard these reboots with optimism and hope for a bright future of Star Trek movies featuring many breathtaking scenes; Kirk beatdowns; Uhura and Spock together forever, Zachary Quinto's whispery voice and intense looks and all sorts of other awesome stuff. Now I can't wait. Warp speed ahead.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yay! Star Trek is sexy again!

One happy thought (with a little pixie dust) which perks me up when my daily existence seems kind of drab is that every day that passes brings me closer to the premiere of Star Trek. Yes, some of you are now groaning and clutching your stomachs. Others are giving me the Vulcan sign, but I have to admit it, Star Trek at the moment is giving me love tingles – giant love tingles.

So ring the bells and bang the drums, but before I go too far, I have a confession to make -shields up- I'm actually a Star Wars chick. Yes register your shock now. I mean I like Star Trek, and as you read on you'll see why. Star Wars inspires stronger devotion in me because it's based on mythology, on archetypes and redemption and the sins of the father and other wonderful things. It's harder for me to accept the faults of the movies (and yes I know they are there), and they connect with me in a deeper way. With that said, Star Trek is still cool!!!!!!* And the new movie, yeah, let's get back to that....

Sensible people will be pointing out to me that the movie has not yet become available to most critics or the general viewing public. They will forecast doom on my happy thoughts by suggesting that this movie could just plain suck, and I would agree that this could happen, but the giant love tingles refuse to diffuse.

One early review perhaps covers the reason for my happiness. According to The Australian "Star Trek is sexy again",,25310150-15803,00.html, and for that I am willing to bow down and praise the movie gods. One in particular.....would be J.J. Abrams, a person who I do not know well, but who I would like to get to know over smoothies and cinnamon rolls because I like the cut of his jib. Who the heck is he you ask? Well maybe you've heard of "Felicity", "Alias" and "Lost". If you've never watched any of these shows, do not feel too badly because I only watch "Lost". However from all that I have seen and heard J.J. is a potential kindred spirit. While I didn't watch his earlier shows, I heard lots of good things about them. He's creative, and goes about his projects differently (a huge plus for me). He's clearly intelligent and loving of his craft, and of course he created Lost – a deep, complicated, aggravating, fascinating odyssey of a show which has been holding me riveted over the past few years. So of course, J.J. Abrams was perfect for making Star Trek cool again. Duh!

But you've got to give props to the original material. J.J. couldn't do his work without strong base material to start with. I cannot remember the time or the place where I first became acquainted with Star Trek. But I have the distinct impression that I was not impressed with it – not like the time I saw my first Star Wars movie: Return of the Jedi which left me thrilled. I think I really got into Star Trek the way everyone gets into illicit things: everyone else was doing it.

Within the walls of my convent school where so much of my character and opinions were formed, I was exposed to several adolescents and budding superwomen like myself who were all reading Star Trek books, and I mean devouring them, so of course, I had to read them too. I was one of the gang wasn't I? And guess what the novels were fabulous, and it was an easy step from there to start watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and arguing hotly over who was cuter Kirk or Spock. (The answer to this is obvious of course. Read on.) Afterward I began to fully appreciate the greatness of The Original Series; the novels helped; my imagination did the rest.

Even without the influence of convent peer pressure, I find that I still have a place in my heart for Trek, and for me it's not just nostalgia. I don't need it as I still have those awesome characters. Lots of good people here and some absolutely brilliant ones.

Don't have the time or the space to go very far in depth, but my heart is with the stellar guys above. Of course, my very favourite – Spock – goes first. This half Vulcan, half human defies the usual hero dynamic by being logical and by keeping his head, even when he was pushed to the edge. Spock used intelligence to get by; he knew no other way to do it, but yet he was still passionate (though not overtly so), so, so brave and loyal. (Remember "The Wrath of Khan" and "The Search for Spock"). He made me love the whole entire Vulcan race –arguably the best alien species in the whole Trek universe. Their way of dealing with life in a purely logical manner is in Spock's words "fascinating", even if it is not ideal. I like the idea that different life philosophies are explored in the series. Spock very often proves that his way of thinking aint too shabby. Our everyday humanness usually wins out in the show's viewpoint, but consideration is given to others' as well. Besides of course, Spock's devotion to his values leads to many wonderful, fierce and delicious debates with McCoy (one of my honourable mentions for awesome character by the way).

Data was just a sweetie and dang funny too. He wasn't as worldly as Spock – truly an android trying to be a "real boy". He was another character that provided great story potential – some of the best books were about him. Who didn't like Data a little or a lot, seriously?

Captain Jean Luc Picard is the greatest Starship character in the history of Trek in-my-not-so-humble opinion. Forget Kirk. (Well no don't forget him, he's cool and all too.) But Picard was classic. He was assured. (After all, he was himself and always himself in the most dramatic/stressful/ridiculous situations.) He was professional. He was a real gentleman, and he could say "Make it so" in a voice that made you want to jump to it and get things done! It helped a lot that Patrick Stewart is an exceptional actor, and it's no surprise to me that he became a sex symbol among Trek fans.

Besides the wonderful characterizations, Star Trek excels at presenting plotlines which make you think, and raise all sorts of ethical questions. I like it that there were sometimes no easy answers to things (though you knew that the Entreprise crew could always figure it out under pressure). Their encounters with various alien races were a great setting for this, especially when it came to the Klingons, the Vulcans and the creepy, unassailable Borg. Without a doubt, Star Trek could make you tense and excited, and I like tense and excited. But you were tense and excited while your mind was thinking furiously (hey kinda like Lost) which brings me to the new movie again.

I admit that for some time, my love for Star Trek has remained dormant; this is because that nothing was really around to shake up the old fun, but this movie gave me a nice little jolt. I mean look at it.....

This Trek has characters we've met before, but in new incarnations which I love like Zachary Quinto AKA Sylar as Spock.

Cutie and crazy man Simon Pegg as Scotty (special mention to Keith Urban (remember Eomer from Lord of the Rings?) as McCoy)

A Captain Kirk who looks devilish and knowing and fun

And a cast that just looks cool. What can I say!

Finally the trailers all leave you with an impression of dazzling special effects and action which is anything but run of the mill. (That's my main issue with some action sequences these days. You feel as if you could have seen the same thing happening in dozens of other movies. There's nothing about them which grounds what happens in the particular movie you are watching, but I digress.)

(I like Kirk and all, but does anyone else want to see Spock pound on him? You know he was tempted sometimes in the original series.)

If despite all this, you are not interested I understand, and you must forgive me for getting so excited and antsy about a mere movie, but have no fear I'm not a marketing assistant in secret, just a sometimes geek shivering with anticipation.

*Warning. For me Star Trek is the Original Series, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and most of the related movies. I never got into the other shows. No offence meant to fans of these series.