Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trekkin' Across the Universe

I've always had something of a soft spot for Star Trek. Grew up on the original series, enjoyed most of the movies, thought The Next Generation was usually okay. Couldn't get into Deep Space 9, Voyager, or Enterprise. Had lukewarm feelings about this new movie from the get-go, figuring it was time (and then some) to maybe just leave the whole thing alone. I had to admit, though, the trailers started looking pretty tantalizing. The brief glimpses of the characters suggested that the new actors might be nailing the familiar roles pretty well. On the other hand, the Red-Barchetta-esque chase across the Iowa plain and the big-ass critter chasing Kirk through an icy wasteland looked pretty well groan-inducing.

So I went to the theater today for the first time since Quantum of Solace came out, feeling reasonably generous toward cinematic endeavors since my daughter was home for the weekend and wanted to see it as well.

The first half proved to be quite engaging, as the characters sure enough became themselves. I had no trouble at all believing that Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban really were Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, respectively, in their younger years. Urban in particular nails Bones like nobody's business. There might have been a few too many utterances of "Damn it, Jim, I'm a doctor," but Urban was otherwise so good in the part I could overlook this without grumbling.

It was obvious early on, though, that this was one of those movies where something fast and loud has to be happening at every moment. Personally, I tend to prefer movies that stop to breathe every now and then, but figuring that this wasn't in the cards, I just adjusted. I knew in advance, too, something about the plot and where it was going to lead. Time travel. Oy. Again. I didn't like the idea beforehand, and upon reflection, I like it even less now. I have an aversion to most time travel tales—although there are certainly exceptions, such as The Terminator series and J. J. Abrams's own Lost. However, mucking around so fundamentally with Trek's origins somehow seems particularly egregious, even to me, a mere casual fan of the series.

Well, still. It all proved to be a pretty fun movie, albeit loaded with too much video-game-style imagery and effects. The nods to the original show were mostly spot-on, and I'm very glad the actors reflected the portrayals of the original cast without resorting to parody. Simon Pegg as Scotty came pretty close to going over the top, but then, for Scotty, that didn't seem much out of place. He brought some welcome levity to the proceedings.

Overall, I'm going to give Star Trek a B, as it really was a fun couple of hours. For the more dedicated fan of the series, a serious adjusting of mindset might be in order, but if one can do this, I think a good time might be manageable. And of course there's Leonard Nimoy on board to add a sense of "authenticity" to the production.

It ain't the Star Trek of old, but neither does it flop at capturing some of the show's most distinctive aspects—at least in the character department. I reckon I'll pick up the DVD when it comes out, for whatever that's worth.


Stewart Sternberg said...

A "B"? Really? Dear God, I hated this film. I think one has to put aside the fact that it's STAR TREK and instead focus on story elements and film making. There were so many absurd scenes that were either there for eyecandy or to amuse the ADHD crowd, that I found myself smacking my forehead. Did Kirk really need to be chased by two monsters across an ice field? Did it really do anything to further plot, character, or theme?

And shall we talk about the score? It was dreadful. It was plodding and poorly planned. Intrusive and embarassing.

The only good thing I think I can say about this film is that I think the next one will be better. Sometimes it's best to put aside an origin film and wait for the meat to be delivered.

Mark Rainey said...

I will admit that on a different day I might have had a different impression altogether. I had a mighty enjoyable time going to see the movie, though in hindsight, my recollections are somewhat less generous. Still, the characters really did keep me engaged. They nailed it there.