Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek Capsule Review

I saw the new Star Trek movie yesterday. For those who might be interested, on the scale of Star Trek movies from V ("What does GOD need with a STARSHIP?", e.g. really bad) to II ("KHAAAAAN!" e.g. awesome), I put it up there with II.

It's going to be interesting to see how Star Trek fans react. It's definitely a different spin on the franchise than the last several TV shows. While the stakes are high, the movie never takes itself too seriously. McCoy and Scotty are played largely as comic relief, as is Chekov, who is there with full on stereotype Russian accent. But the characters are never incompetent, just younger than Star Trek fans will be used to. The reason for that, and the place for this new entry into the Star Trek cannon is explained in a way that perfectly fits into the Star Trek universe. The inspiration for the movie definitely comes from the old series and the movies that flowed from it (especially the previously alluded to Wrath of Khan), and not so much from the Next Generation and its subsequently spawned TV shows. On the whole I think it works better that way.

I have my nitpicks: Much of the movie was shot too close in. Did we really need the bit of Kirk as an angry kid? One scene came off completely contrived, though it had a good payoff. The design work was very uneven; some of the interior ship sets were ludicrous. While most of the Federation ships were given a beautiful retro-future makeover, with the shuttles and the Kelvin being particularly nice, the main enemy ship looked terrible and the new Enterprise was too bulbous in the nacelles for my tastes.

But for every superficial issue I had, there were things thrown in to make fans smile. All the lines that made the characters famous are there. The extreme sports skydiving scene that was so prominent in the trailers was a relatively minor, naturally handled part of the story. There was a green woman for Kirk to canoodle. The Kobiashi Maru. Klingon battle cruisers. Sulu the swordsman. There's even a cooing tribble in one scene for those paying attention.

In the end, this is a different take: a new Star Trek designed as a summer sci-fi action blockbuster. It's an homage, a knowing parody, and a relaunch all in one. Now we get to sit back and see how the box office feels about it.


fergus said...

I thought it was awesome, due largely to the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously. I came away thinking "They're getting back to what makes Trek fun... Kirk and Spock... and NOTHING (not even a crazy giant Romulan mining ship) can change that reality."

I think the new Enterprise is refreshingly cool. Comic-book-like. It's not 1701-A which stands as the coolest ship of all time. But it is pretty cool.

Even Tracey liked it.

Brian said...

Coolest ship of all time? Now that's a big claim. Watch out for Star Wars fans when you say things like that.

Certainly the Constitution refit is the coolest Enterprise design. I can think of some spaceships I consider cooler, but it's hard to argue the sheer iconic power of the United Star Ship Enterprise.

fergus said...

I was speaking in the context of Trek... the coolest Enterprise of all time (Though I'll confess I like the E). Star Wars has Trek licked on coolness with one hand tied behind its back. And that doesn't even get to B5 or BSG or others...

Sorry for the confusion.

Lee said...

Aye, 'twas good. It was fun, they made it fit with everything that had come before and yet started over. Kristy liked it. She said it helped that she had watched a few TOS episodes recently (at my request).

The use of Nimoy to bridge the two continuities was well done, I thought, as it got the focus back to Kirk/Spock. I hope McCoy gets thrown in there a bit more in the next one and not just for comic relief. Though establishing him as a classmate of Kirk was good to establish the friendship.

I think they actually achieved something unique: a Trek movie for the general populace that fans will like as well.

I'm not too big of a fan of the new Enterprise design, but I understand that they would want to do something different.

I read somewhere (probably slashdot) that the bridge looks like an Apple store - I did half exepct to see the apple logo somewhere in there.