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.


Dixie-Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dixie-Ann said...

(Christane's comment posted with her permission)
loved your review and agreed with everything..especially that you would have made a better Uhura. It's no brainer and the only casting point JJ really messed up. Don't know what happened to him there!

Zachary was sublime. I missed his arching his brows!! Ah going back to see it! lol Urban HAS to be Deforest Kelly's outside child! I adored Pine and I am not a 'blue-eyed, white boy' kind of girl, although his eyes ARE awesome. (Plus he has a degree in English from Berkeley!! hot hot hot!)

I had the same reactions as you about Chekov! Didn't care much before and was thrilled after. The original character was so unmemorable that JJ did right and brilliantly to re-draw him as that adorable boy-genius! ... Read More

I am not sure if Spock ever apologised. I think they fudged it and his body language at the end when he appeared on the bridge and asked to serve as First Off was meant to account for that. Odd that none of the crew rushed forward to stop him from strangling Kirk! Still..10 out of 10!

mackenzie said...

Loved the review- suffice it to say that I too wanna go check it out again and again and again. Everyone was very well cast - JJ did a good job with that. I can't think of any character that was miscast at all. Even the poor guy in the red suit that bit the dust in the space jump was well cast! You just knew he was going to get it - he was in the red tunic AND he didn't have a name per se...

And yes - clearly you'd have made a better Uhura than Zoe..what was JJ thinking there? :)

Spock never did apologise- as the other commentator said maybe his apology came in the form of requesting politely to be 1st Officer. You know those two are going to have some good battles ahead but it will I think be now based on mutual respect. I can't wait to see more of the interplay and verbal wrangling and insults between McCoy (a superbly well case Karl Urban) and Spock (he IS Spock!).

A special mention to the writers who cheekily used those now infamous lines by their characters throughout the scenes - usually in high tension situations - maybe as comic relief? or maybe done as a test to true trekkies everywhere to see if they'd catch them? Like when Scotty (Simon Pegg) tells Kirk, "I'm giving her all she's got Cap'n!". Or when McCoy uses his deadpan, "He's Dead Jim" or his irritated, "Damnit Man I'm a doctor not a...". And when Spock with arched eyebrows and child like wonder says, "Fascinating" Totally loved it!

Dixie-Ann said...

I think everybody was too shocked seeing a Vulcan gone wild to stop Spock from pounding Kirk, but I was surprised Uhura didn't do anything. Maybe she was secretly turned on by it all. :)

I felt bad for the red shirt guy mackenzie. As soon as I saw his clothes and realized how enthusiastic he was, I knew he was doomed.

Missed the "givin' it all she's got" and the "He's dead Jim". :O Must check this out again.