Sunday, 24 May 2009

Space: The Final Frontier (revisited)...

I'd been ambivalent about seeing the new Star Trek movie, not because it was a J.J. Abrams picture, but more because of all the secrecy surrounding it.

Y'know, less information than an episode of Lost.

Bad Robot. Bad, bad robot...


So I wasn't queueing up to see it on release day; I figured, I'll get to it. Anyway, I left work early on Thursday 7th and happened to be passing the cinema where a show was due to start fifteen minutes later. Impulse got the better of me and in I went.

So where to begin?

Romulans again - okay, fair enough, the movie needs a bad guy, so maybe Abrams is saving the Klingons for the next picture. But would Romulan society have changed so much by the era of Ambassador Spock that one might expect characters the like of Nero and his crew? Curious.

James T. Kirk should never have made it to adulthood. Despite an appreciation of classical music and a lack of appreciation for antique autos, his self-destructive streak should have won out in his early teens.

Unless the penalty for auto theft in Iowa is fifteen years, which could explain a lot (chasing women, unable to hold his liquor, no respect for authority, etc).

That being said, Chris Pine did a fine job of rebooting one of the most iconic characters in science fiction without descending into a parody of Shatner. There were hints, of course - Pine obviously did his homework and there were moments - a reaction here, a gesture there - that pointed toward the man James Kirk would become. Bear in mind that this Kirk is ten years younger than the one who originally took command of his Enterprise and thus might be said to be an 'unfinished' version of the legendary captain.

We had a rare look at Spock's childhood, only previously glimpsed in the Animated Series episode, Yesteryear, and the pivotal moment of his decision to enter Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy. Zachary Quinto was spot-on as the adult Spock, although I thought his voice closer to Tuvok than to Spock. But that's just me.

Karl Urban, everyone seems to agree, was channelling DeForest Kelley in his portrayal of Leonard McCoy and, to my mind, was excellent in the role without, again, descending into parody. Urban, one will recall, played Eomer of Rohan in The Lord of The Rings trilogy, as well as the assassin Kirill in The Bourne Supremacy, and ably demonstrates an impressive acting range.

The remaining crewmembers - Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yeltchin) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) all got decent screen-time and slotted in well, although Scotty was a bit too much of a clown for my liking. The original Scotty was a serious man who didn't joke about his work (except that one time) and I thought the producers might have stuck more closely to that, but then they cast Pegg, so what should I have expected?

But the movie was excellent, a non-stop, two-hour rollercoaster with action, pathos and comedy in all the proper places. Abrams's idea in telling the story was nothing short of brilliant - nobody goes home unhappy, and the ongoing mission will continue for some years yet.

I took my dad and a friend of ours, both of whom remembered the series from its first run on TV, to see the movie last Monday, and both were as fully impressed as I was. They thought Scotty was portrayed as a bit of a clown, as well. So it wasn't just me.

Last Friday, I saw it for the third time with a group of friends - later, one of the girls, who wasn't by any means a Star Trek fan, wanted to know how to do the Vulcan salute. She'll need a bit of practice, and probably won't be able to hold a pen in that hand for a while, but will have learned what she may feel is the equivalent of a Masonic handshake.

So here's to the next adventure of the USS Enterprise and her crew - clear skies to her, and all who sail in her...



4 comments:

PJ said...

Great review. I saw it once at the IMAX, and I hope to see it again before it leaves the cinemas.

Overall it was a great movie which will attract younger generations to the Star Trek story. I did find the plot rather convoluted at times, but it worked for the most part. My favourite characters were McCoy and Chekov, though the tension between Kirk and Spock was great.

Captain Incredible said...

Ah, IMAX - if only we had such a phenomenon here...

Thank you kindly - I have to agree, the plot was a little bizarre, and when I realised time travel was involved, I remember thinking

"Crap..."

But it didn't matter in the end.

I mean, killing an entire planet? The audacity of it - the sheer, unbridled audacity...

As my young apprentice might observe,

"Awesome..."

I'm looking forward to the next one already - Klingons, perhaps?
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Today's verification word, by the way, is 'catbook'

Therin of Andor said...

Glad you liked it too!

I've seen it four times now, once at IMAX.

Gotta go back again at least once more with some friends who are dragging the chain a bit.

Captain Incredible said...

What? The whole world should have seen it by now - except for some German monks in the Himalayas (don't ask)- just, like, because...


Personally, I figure I've given the cinemas their cut by now - I'm waiting on the DVD at this point...