Miscellaneous reviewStar Trek
Definite "Star Trek" feel. Better acting than any prior Star Trek movie. Impressive score manages to mostly avoid standing on the shoulders of its forebears
Definite "Star Trek" feel. Storyline is nothing impressive.
Definite "Star Trek" feel. Trekkies. Scotty's pet ewok. Camerawork.
Note that this review may contain spoilers although I don't think there's anything material
Star Trek, marking Trek's return after a substantial hiatus (for Trek), is an eminently recommendable, very fun movie. It is not perfect, but it's something you'd want to watch, probably even if you'd never even heard the phrase "star trek" before. It's neither an edge-of-the-seat action movie nor a slow-paced drama; if you're not familiar with Star Trek movies this puts it somewhere in the Star Wars camp, a smart decision.
People looking to take on Star Trek face an impossible challenge in the form of Star Trek's fans, who have a notorious reputation that has been fairly well-deserved ever since trekkies let their "power" (fan response was integral to keeping Star Trek around) go to their heads. The skewering Galaxy Quest delivered is roughly accurate; trekkies (as opposed to "people who like Star Trek", which is a much broader group) are slavishly obsessive and have a very clear picture of what Star Trek is and isn't supposed to be.
You get the impression that for many people, "Star Trek" encompasses the first TV series and its 1987 revival "Star Trek: The Next Generation", both of which blended occasional bright spots with atrociously-acted moralising and fluff (TNG grew up, later, after Roddenberry kicked it, as seen in episodes like TNG: "Chain of Command" and "Lower Decks"). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," which nuanced Roddenberry's ridiculously utopian views (all the patronising "oh no, you see my people have evolved beyond [conflict/money/racism]" stuff) with the sort of introspection Moore would later use on "Battlestar Galactica" was derided as too dark (witness DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight" and "... Nor the Battle to the Strong", both of them some of the best television Star Trek has produced) and its space station focus too limited. "Star Trek: Voyager," which returned to the "latex-foreheaded-alien and crisis of the week" format of the original show, was criticised for its contrived plotlines and gung-ho captain. "Star Trek: Enterprise", which originally wasn't even called "Star Trek", was knocked for its cast and for a host of perceived continuity errors.
For this reason, "Star Trek" writers are consistently forced to kowtow to a group of people who appear to remain convinced that it can't be "Star Trek" without an Enterprise and a nitpicker's devotion to the source material. This is why DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations" and VOY: "Flashback", both self-insertion fanfics set in the original series, were so well-regarded by fans, why Deanna Troi got consistent airtime in the later seasons of "Star Trek: Voyager", and why "Enterprise" was revealed in the series finale to be a simulation run by Commander Riker.
I mention this prelude to show you what Star Trek, the first Star Trek movie since Nemesis in 2002 and the first in recent memory to be aimed at an audience that doesn't go to premieres wearing pointy ears, is up against. Its success demonstrates what really ought to be recognised as director JJ Abram's greatest achievement: creating a decent movie while balancing the needs of the fanbase--which is to say providing a good two hours of cinema that feels like "Star Trek" without being hobbled by the past.
Another way of looking at this might be to say that Star Trek manages to take most of the good of the franchise without also dragging along the bad. The clean, white technology is still present to let you know that we're in the future, there still aren't any seatbelts in the wide-open, sparkling bridge, the contrived situations that require immediate action are still solved to the benefit of the heroes with milliseconds to spare and everyone is still attractive. On the other hand, the future is not unremittingly bright (the smug superiority Starfleet personnel feel with regards to civilians may be appropriate, but isn't very utopian), the good guys don't always win, and--most importantly--when Simon Pegg transports himself and Chris Pine to the Enterprise, we aren't subjected to a five minute monologue about "remodulating the plasma deflector to emit a 47 megacochrane tetryon pulse at the inverse variant of the dynametric warp gradient". He just does it. Thank Christ.
Of course, it wouldn't be Star Trek without some ridiculousness. The primary MacGuffin is a ball of red wax that somehow causes black holes, the plot involves time travel (of course), the bad guy's ship deploys a mining rig from a spiky anchor chain (instead of, like, carbon nanotubes) and when Captain Pike is captured and the bad guy asks him for information on Earth's defences, Scott manages to guess that this is why Pike has been captured immediately, even though the bad guy has just wiped out a squadron of Federation battleships without suffering a scratch and wouldn't seem to need espionage information anyway.
I would think it possible to watch the movie without dwelling on these things, because as I said at the outset it's a very fun movie, and even if "octopus" is a pretty strange shape for a mining ship we can forgive most of the aesthetic choices because they're pretty much all for the better. Pretty much: apparently the interior of a modern starship, unlike the USS Enterprise NX-01, consists of lots of metal pipework (complete with round valves), almost as though it was an abandoned industrial plant...
And fortunately, even as a non-Star Trek film the movie is quite enjoyable. Once you sit through a mawkish opening sequence and a not especially convincing recruitment into Starfleet (broken up by a fun bit of joyriding by the young James Kirk), the film begins in earnest, alternating action scenes that are enjoyable without being over-the-top with dramatic character development that is compelling without being maudlin.
Abrams has picked a cast that all do their jobs quite well. On occasion they seem to have been picked for their resemblance, in personality or appearance, to the crew of the original series, though Abrams has left them with plenty of room to grow and develop past their roots if he continues the franchise. The biggest names here are Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and John Cho (Better Luck Tomorrow, Harold and Kumar) as Montgomery Scott and Hikaru Sulu, so perhaps they'll be allowed to develop as an ensemble. They don't, unlike the TV casts, appear to have a great deal of chemistry, but perhaps that will come in time--in any case the acting is definitely decent, and substantially better than in other Trek movies.
If I have any complaint it's with the camerawork, which often feels cramped and slightly claustrophobic, even in outer space. Perhaps it was just the theatre I was at, but light blooming frequently washed out part of the picture, an effect I'm not sure I'm terribly fond of. The external shots steal liberally from "Battlestar Galactica" and its unsteady, sometimes jerky "handheld documentary film" feel, and the internal shots have more Dutch angles than an Amsterdam windmill.
Abrams has managed to throw enough nods to hardcore Trekkies (who frequently, though not always, have an idea set in their mind of what Star Trek is "supposed" to be) to keep them interested while simultaneously crafting a movie that is enjoyable for everyone, including non-Trek fans. As a fun ride, it's definitely possible to overlook the film's occasional silliness (from here on out, I think, it will no longer be "hey, can you pass me the ketchup?" but a scenery-chewing "prepare the red matter!") and at the end of the day Star Trek is a movie for everyone. So, everyone should see it. QED.
It will be interesting to see how things develop. Outside the theatre I saw the movie at, there were people talking afterwards about who was "best" at playing their characters, which is a worrying--if expected--development (there weren't nearly as many people musing on how well Christian Bale had managed to capture Adam West, for instance); hopefully Abrams has managed to prove himself enough to be able to reimagine Star Trek (like Moore and BSG) as opposed to just remaking it. Certainly, there's reason to hope he has, starting with the movie's blasť approach to Star Trek continuity.
Basically, Star Trek stands on its own merits as an enjoyable, fun couple of hours in the movie theatre. If you haven't seen it yet, it's definitely worth it. It loses a point for its rather uninspired plot (maybe 8/10s of a point for the plot and 2/10ths for the cameras) and one for the lingering sense that it only goes that extra distance if you do know, without having to check Wikipedia, what the corbomite maneuver is.
23.05.2009 - 1h17
|Welcome back, again :P
You didn't like the phlebotinum? It was so random, huge ball of slime that causes black holes, it was classic trek! Nah, it was ridiculous.
As a "Trekkie", I've found that it is expected for me to nitpick, and otherwise hate on any creative product that is not a carbon duplicate of TOS. This film makes it easy. You would be hard pressed to walk out of that movie without experiencing a certain level of incredulity at the whole point. It stinks of a contrived conspiracy to push Nimoy at the audience. I don't know what it was like when you watched the film, but on Wednesday (5/20), they still cheered raucously when he appeared on screen to deliver a fifteen minute cameo where he spouted famous lines and made gratuitous use of the "mind-meld". (He couldn't just tell the story?!)
I know, the decision to trot him out was in part to please the fan base, to give the whole production an air of legitimacy, but it was so painful to watch that I buried myself in my neighboring viewer's bosom and was loathe to be extricated for the rest of the showing.
This may have had less to do with the movie, though.
When it wasn't obvious that this movie was an attempt to cater to the fans, I rather enjoyed it. The ships were cool, though I agree that the "mining ship" was rather over-designed and seemed to be built to give off a sinister air rather than for efficiency (lack of stairs or elevators). As for the Enterprise... it just has a huge basement. The actors did well, except for poor, Young Spock, who had the old version looking over his shoulder the entire time.
I hate to say you are over-reacting, but I feel your opinion of the camera work is a rather negative. This style is a bit off-putting, but close analysis will reveal it is just a fusion of pretty much all the sci-fi films of the past five years into a convenient package. Except for the lens flare, that was put in just to annoy the crap out of everyone in the world. A freaking candle would have lens-flare in this film, the huge blooms of light indicate they should stop and clean their god-damn lenses every once in a while!
To finish this off on a brighter note, the real reason people didn't like Voyager is the unspoken, but almost universal feeling that Janeway was once a man...
(Sorry, Kate, it had to be said)
23.05.2009 - 1h45
|It's possible I'm overreacting. I'll just say I didn't like it and I thought the camerawork felt over the top in places (though, as I said, it's a minor complaint for me). I am somewhat gratified to see that I'm not the only one who wondered what the hell was up with the glare.
I don't want to seem like a sycophant exactly, but I agree with everything you've said. Realistically, if I was honest I would've said "minus one point for Leonard Nimoy" because, seriously, what the fuck. He had no good reason to be there in the first place, certainly no good reason to have such a major effect on the movie--it does kind of feel like he was brought on just to give it some credibility, you're right. Having him read the ending, instead of Pine, was a needless sop to the fans--which is sad, because you're right, when the movie isn't pandering it's doing an excellent job.
I wonder if there is (have to go check TV tropes or something) a phrase for those moments that are clearly designed to get the theatre audience applauding or giving a knowing chuckle. Star Trek had some fairly egregious instances, including the whole existence of Nimoy's character (I'll forgive the "I'm a doctor, not a " I suppose). The last Indiana Jones movie also had that gratuitous moment in the warehouse where they pan to the Ark and hold long enough to let everyone pat themselves on the back for appreciating the moment.
Still, I shouldn't let my distaste for this sort of "look at us! We're with you, trekkies!" homage come through too strongly (also, I am a Trekkie myself, though as you've probably picked up of the DS9/VOY stripe) because I really, really did like the movie. It was a big red ball of black-hole inducing fun.
Also, are you stalking me? That comment came very soon after I posted the review :D
23.05.2009 - 5h55
|Yes, I'm stalking you, very poor choice of drapery, by the way. Consider something more transparent. Just kidding.
But really, I check the site often. 39 times out of 40 I get nothing new, so post more often! :P
I think the trope is called fan-wank or continuity porn... one of those. I'd check, but I just got home. Either phrase really just elicits one response from me, ew.
23.05.2009 - 11h20
|You're both wrong. If you replaced the word "Nimoy" with "Shatner" I'd be with you. Shatner is a tool, and the original Kirk was too. But Nimoy has a bit more gravitas outside of Star Trek, just by virtue of being recognizable and unembarrassing.
The re-imagination itself seemed contingent on the Enterprise's canon changing (or else the rabid Trekkies would madly tear Abrams to bits for daring to rewrite the story, however slightly). So this plot or something like it could very conceivably arise from the desire to change things without angering the pointy-eared ones. Yes, this is pandering, and yes, that's lame, but I think it's a lot less lame than you two seem to. Nimoy's aged Spock was quite different from his youthful Spock if I recall TOS correctly, and the aged version seemed consistent with Quinto's. So if he can pull it off that well, what's the harm in having Spock the Elder come from the future? Do you really have such a distaste for Nimoy that you were unhappy to see him again?
And I think that the mind-meld made perfect sense. Why try to convince a young Kirk, who managed to get himself ejected to an ice planet, with words when the melding can impart a more lucid and honest recounting of Spock's thoughts?
Oh, and the trope should be called fan-wank, regardless of what the proper term is. It conveys the right amount of disgust with an appropriate sound. I think, perhaps, that my attitudes differ from yours because the fan-wank did not induce applause in my theater, a fact for which I am truly grateful.
23.05.2009 - 11h28
|In the sentence:
"The re-imagination itself seemed contingent on the Enterprise's canon changing (or else the rabid Trekkies would madly tear Abrams to bits for daring to rewrite the story, however slightly),"
The phrase "Enterprise's canon" should be replaced with something like "world's timeline".
24.05.2009 - 1h51
|The problem with Spock, for me at least isn't that he came to the past... although the Vulcan Science Directorate maintains that time travel is impossible... but rather that Leonard Nimoy came to the movie. The whole plot revolves around a few critical points that are designed seemingly for no other purpose than to give Mr. Nimoy a great big cameo (and some well deserved cash).
I'll deconstruct some elements of the "fan-wanking" as it shall be termed. I'm not talking from the perspective of a Trekkie here, or so I'd like to believe. I hope you take that to heart when I lay out my "evidence", as it is not a simple matter to render a subjective experience into universally acceptable "evidence". Not without a mind-meld at least.
As a moviegoer, I appreciate the visual experience of the mind meld, but as a young dude on an ice planet, I don't like getting my mind invaded just 'cause someone doesn't know how to tell a decent story! I would have been satisfied with the narration, especially since I just saw a planet KER-PLODE! That tends to make me more receptive to new things...
In response to accusations of Nimoy acting different now, that can be waved off by such events as when he was brought back to life after being stored inside McCoy, and when he had a small aneurysm from the Will'Yam Shak'Spar quoting from Undiscovered Country, and cause he's happy to see his friend, who has BEEN DEAD for quite some time... well, less time, if Picard spent some hours gossiping around the Vulcan water cooler about his latest exploits. Or maybe he just forgot that logic stuff, he's really old, you know.
Also, this future Spock employs quotes like "you have been and always shall be my friend" like Kirk-san should recognize them. Odd considering he would not hear them for a few decades! A clear violation of sensibilities and sense (please read as: logic) for a being which makes it his byword. Underscoring painfully for those who recognise it, that the entire point of being on this ice planet was to find some out of the way corner for a wank. (Note: consider new phrase, current one is disturbing at times)
Additionally, they already had a Spock in this movie, I don't want to be comparing the two as a rule rather than as an optional exercise. The planet didn't im-ker-plode because of some silly catsup spill, it was the universe shattering proposition of having an awesome veteran actor sharing the stage with a (potentially good) relative unknown while playing the same character. There should be a law against it, cause it effectively neuters the other guy. (Addendum: Will need to research the effects on actresses, Dame Dench v. Olivia Grant perhaps?)
Maybe you'll agree it was a bit over the top.
On another note, I have no distaste for Nimoy, but I was playing a game of Civ 4 before I went for the movie. The double dose coupled with the applause really made me pay attention to the HORRORS of trying to please the fandom. What Abe (yes, I'm lazy) did is not a good thing, it was a cheap cop-out. He designed an entire movie around bringing Nimoy back, in effect hamstringing any story that he could have put forward. That he ended up with something entertaining when it wasn't trying too hard to impress is a testament to him.
While there's a reparte, how do you feel about the new Enterprise, and its massive basement? Or the shuttle craft and their Saran Wrap airlocks?
24.05.2009 - 1h53
|Sorry about the long comments, but keyboard taps soothe me when I can't fall asleep. Like a gentle rain that I can control.|
24.05.2009 - 3h05
Yes, this is pandering, and yes, that's lame, but I think it's a lot less lame than you two seem to.
— La Chevre!
23.05.2009 - 11h20
Here's what I'd say was the basic problem: there was no good reason for "I am Spock again" Nimoy to be there. There were ways to convey all the information Nimoy gave in a way that was entirely organic to the movie. Instead, we get "Best of Trek Vol. 11", which practically shoves a comparison between the 60s actors and the new cast in the audience's face.
Or, that is, can you offer an explanation for why you'd toss Nimoy in there that doesn't boil down to fanwank? Can you imagine another mythos where this would be acceptable? Can you imagine a Star Wars reimagining where the relevant plot points were explained to a young Luke Skywalker by a time-travelling Mark Hamill? And if you can, is this because such a construct makes sense, or because it's something only George Lucas (who should have his director's license revoked) would do?
(Unrelated: come to think of it, Civilization 4 has coloured Nimoy for me, too. "You have discovered... red matter")
24.05.2009 - 3h07
|Double-posting (it seems to be in vogue) to add: the biggest problem I have with Nimoy is that Star Trek would've been just as good of a movie (and possibly better--that is, less wankish) without his presence. It was... mm. Gratuitous?
24.05.2009 - 10h03
|You know, this double posting thing could probably be prevented by the addition of an edit functionality. Just a suggestion.|
24.05.2009 - 3h32
|I feel I have to disagree with many points made here. I also apologize for a long post, but such is life.
I'll first note that I'm not an outsider, so I can't judge the movie on it's own without bias from Star Trek's history, nor will I attempt to do so. I'm also not a Trekkie, and don't know nearly as much about the shows as people who have already posted. I can't list episode names and plots, I don't know the names of the actors who played various characters. I've seen a small few TOS episodes, probably half to 2/3 of TNG, a small few DS9 episodes, and maybe 1/4 of VOY, but I have seen all the movies. So maybe I don't know enough of what I'm talking about. Maybe I'm too much of a biased insider.
First point: An agreement, not a disagreement: From everyone I've talked to, there is reasonably unanimous agreement that the lens flares are pretty solidly fail.
Second point: I don't like the term fan-wank myself. I though the classic lines and such where nice little in-jokes for those who recognize them. They added an extra layer of humor and they certainly made me smile. But they're not the sort of thing that you need to get to enjoy the movie. They're like the little bits of subtle, slightly more adult humor/satire in movies like the Incredibles or most Pixar films. They add a bit more flavor to the movie for those who get it, but don't detract from those who don't.
They're really only a negative for people who are familiar with them and have decided that they don't think references are good. Why is it bad for Spock to make a comment hearkening back to an event in his life that would have deep meaning for him, even if young Kirk wouldn't understand it. Look at the look in Spock's eyes, he's saying it more for himself and not caring whether or not young Kirk understands.
But in a broader sense, such lines are like times when a movie cites a Shakespearean quote or when one work of literature/art/cinematography makes reference to another. Now no, I'm not claiming that Star Trek is as good as Shakespeare. But why is it bad to reference another work outside of the movie itself? Is it bad just because it's referencing the same franchise? And what's wrong with wanting to add more appeal to the slice of the demographic that does enjoy the old movies? Other than possibly because it's so much cliched fun to ridicule people for enjoying the old Trek.
Note I'm not defending Trekkies here. I agree that they've earned their reputation and everything Galaxy Quest (as well as SNL, the Simpson, etc. etc.) gave them. But there are some of us who genuinely enjoy and appreciate the various series and movies as just fun entertainment without feeling some need to memorize episode names and guest star lists and treating Memory Alpha as Wikipedia's more important brother.
I've never really understood why it's so hard for so many people to just enjoy Star Trek (in all its incarnations) as just fun entertainment? It doesn't need to be taken seriously as some super-utopian universe. It doesn't need to be taken serious as some piece of television/cinematic art. So the acting isn't the best? So what? So the plots aren't always deep and highly intellectual? So what? Why can't it be enjoyed and praised as simply being fun and enjoyable without needing all the seriousness around it?
For example, I think my single favorite moment in the entire movie was when Kirk first meets Bones. The way he argues about getting on board, the way he rambles, the accent in his voice, and his descriptions of dying in space... They're all so amazingly classically reminiscent of DeForest Kelley that I loved it to death. And what's wrong with me enjoying that? I laughed. I felt happy. I was entertained. Isn't that really what the point of a movie is? (Though, a close second is probably when old Spock gives Scotty information about what he will discover in the future. It is a beautiful ironic call back to Star Trek IV. I was desperately wanting Scotty to then access the computer by turning to it and saying "Hello, computer.")
Third point: Having said all that above, I will also defend the use of Nimoy in the plot as definitely more than just "fan-wank". Star Trek, since TOS and in multiple movies and even TNG episodes, has often played on the issue of Spock's half-breed heritage. They've always explored his emotions in this light. And this movie most definitely does the same. From young Spock wanting to repress them, to the conflicting advise from his mother and father and society, to his interactions with Uhura, to his outburst at Kirk... Dealing with Spock's emotions is a big side-plot of the movie.
Old Spock has gone through this. He shows us a Spock who is very comfortable with and embraces his emotions. Although they're subdued by his old Vulcan-ness, he doesn't actually hide them. He's gentle with Kirk. You can easily feel the deeper pain in his eyes when he's talking about Vulcan. At the end he basically openly tells young Spock to embrace his emotions. This is all in stark contrast to young Spock's constant conflictedness on the same issue. We also, of course, have the highly emotional young Kirk showing us the other extreme. But while young Kirk and Spock are polar opposites, old Spock serves to show that a balance can exist for the Vulcan-Human half-breed.
We see a young character battling his demons and trying to find his identity in a world in which everyone tries to make him to be a true Vulcan, and yet everyone also constantly reminds him that he's not one. We see him actively growing and trying to learn to cope with this world. And we also see a much older, matured Spock who has found his peace; found his identity. We essentially see two ends of the character's evolution. And I think that contrast between them helps better emphasize this part of the plot.
The truth, I think, is that this movie is primarily a movie about Spock. I believe Pine is the supporting actor here, not Quinto. In many ways, bringing the rest of the crew together is just an aside. In the end, how much do Checkov, Sulu, Scotty, or Bones really add to the plot? The progress it a few times, but not in ways that fundamentally rely on them. Uhura adds a little to Spock's character development through her interaction with him, but other than that isn't even needed. It's a movie about Spock growing up more than anything else. Kirk and old Spock serve as the primary contrasts to show off who young Spock really is. This, I believe, is his real reason for being there.
Fourth point: Another agreement: I really liked the movie. It was a lot of fun. I might have to go see it again. Not because I think the plot is highly compelling and made me think deeply and philosophically (it isn't, really). Not because I think the acting will be nominated for any awards (it won't). Not because I think it's greatest movie of all time material (it's not). I might go see it again because I had fun watching it (and I feel that at least for me, the "fan-wank" added to that fun). Just that simple. And I suggest everyone else see it for the same reason: because it's fun, and it doesn't have to be taken as anything more than that.
24.05.2009 - 5h43
They're really only a negative for people who are familiar with them and have decided that they don't think references are good.
24.05.2009 - 3h32
References are not bad. "Arrested Development" did an excellent job of using both self-referential (references or flashbacks to earlier episodes) and meta-referential (introducing Scott Baio as an actor or noting the network's decision to cut the number of episodes).
In-jokes are not bad. Think about Paul Reiser's character in "Mad About You", asked if he's seen the Alien movies, quickly saying "only the first one". The 90s sitcom "NewsRadio" was essentially a long string of references from "Fibber McGee and Molly" to Titanic. Sky Captain, in the movie of the same name (a movie essentially about the 1930s) briefly sailed through a ship graveyard including the SS Venture.
Even fanwanks aren't always bad. Star Trek has enough examples. Worf lampshaded the Kligon question in "Trials and Tribble-ations" (amidst a host of other fanwanks) by gruffly saying they "do not discuss it with outsiders". Seven of Nine answered a question about the first terran warp-capable ship by saying "the Borg were present during those events," describing it as "a complicated story" and moving on with the basic narrative.
The problem comes when the desire to be "cleverly" referential overshadows the narrative, and blatantly exists for little reason other than as a pat on the back (to the director, the cast, the audience, etc). The sci-fi program "Quantum Leap" tread a fine line between being about Scott Bakula's time-travelling character and about historywanking. Accidentally causing the Northeast Blackout of 1965 was done in a relatively credible way; having Bakula give Buddy Holly the inspiration to write "Peggy Sue" was gratuitous.
I've never really understood why it's so hard for so many people to just enjoy Star Trek (in all its incarnations) as just fun entertainment?
24.05.2009 - 3h32
For two reasons. Firstly, because it isn't, and never has been. To dismiss it as "just fun entertainment" completely misses Gene Roddenberry's point (using a "simplistic medium... to really ask very deep questions") and diminishes the work of the writers (Harlan Ellison (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever"), Theodore Sturgeon and Richard Matheson all wrote for "Star Trek"; TOS: "The Day of the Dove", message television if ever there was any, was written by Jerome Bixby).
Star Trek as a concept has always been about more than entertainment. Whether this was commenting on the folly of hatred in TOS: "Let that Be Your Last Battlefield", the bitterness of racism in DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars", gender issues in TNG: "The Outcast" (note I am talking about Star Trek as more-than-entertainment, not Star Trek as good television, because "The Outcast" was kind of sucky), the difficulty of following its own rules in TNG: "Homeward", the horrors of war in DS9: "... Nor the Battle to the Strong" or the death penalty in VOY: "Repentance" Star Trek has had a voice in the social issues of its day.
Can Star Trek be fun? Of course it can. There's nothing about dramatic television that makes it inherently unfun. Is it "just fun entertainment"? Of course not, in the sense that Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now are not "just fun war movies". And so Star Trek has tended to be serious--you say you haven't watched much of the Original Series, so I'm not sure; perhaps you're imagining it was a campy, good-natured romp. It wasn't--although "Star Trek" had its silly episodes, the episodes that people remember (aside from "Spock's Brain", "The Naked Time" or "Plato's Stepchildren") are dramatic, if occasionally of the format of the close-contemporary "Twilight Zone".
Secondly, because not being serious isn't--or shouldn't be--an excuse for anything to be bad. It is possible for a show or movie to not take itself seriously while not suffering from terrible writing and acting--Mel Brooks stays in this genre, for instance. That Star Trek has been plagued by subpar acting (and more than its fair share of subpar acting as well) has nothing at all to do with how fun or serious it is.
The truth, I think, is that this movie is primarily a movie about Spock. I believe Pine is the supporting actor here, not Quinto.
24.05.2009 - 3h32
Fine--then let Quinto read the closing statements. Giving Nimoy such a prominent role prevents the new movie--and its cast (primarily Zachary Quinto, as Galluskek notes)--from standing on its own two feet by shackling it to the sins of its fathers. In a rebooted franchise, with the opportunity to start completely fresh, the notion that using Nimoy was necessary or gravely useful to the narrative as opposed to just a hook to draw in the fans is in some ways even more troubling--as it says far more about Abrams ability (or lack thereof) to create a story without that crutch than it does about the value of Nimoy's Spock.
24.05.2009 - 5h51
|If you found the movie fun, more power to you. More power to me as well if this is the case, as I was very pleased walking out of the theater. I enjoyed the production quite a bit.
Now, in response to some of your insinuations of some of us (me, I'd imagine) being over-critical on a point which I found be a an egregious breach in narrative integrity:
In a review, one is expected to offer the points, good and bad, and to elaborate on them as clearly as possible. One should not just offer the good elements of a movie done well, nor should one focus solely on the flaws of a film just because you did not like it. Then it all falls into a deep dark pit when you take things like personal preference and societal norms into account. So maybe I did put a bit more emphasis on that point than I should have, but only because the movie did it first. (I'm telling Ebert!)
So who cares what I think? Only people who already share the same mindset, weird people who pay rapt attention to ads, and go pew-pew when no one is looking. As they say, your mileage may vary. Some people really like cameos, some people are more cynical and believe that they are just a marketing ploy to get more people into the theater, and I personally think of it as a plot to lend legitimacy to a production by including a veteran while simultaneously shattering the walls of believability to get him there.
On another note, I like the fact that they gave the biggest ship in the entire Federation more than two little Phaser banks. I always found that to be absurd. Though one could argue that this goes against everything that the Federation stands for, this is alternate continuity and who really cares? :P
24.05.2009 - 6h08
|I did like the phasers. That made sense. I wonder if this, too, draws on the new sci-fi realism drawn from "Battlestar Galactica"?
Also, where I said above that calling Star Trek just "fun entertainment" "completely misses Gene Roddenberry's point" is not to say that you cannot do this (as Galluskek would say, more power to you), especially because Gene Roddenberry was a hack, and his points are of dubious worth.
However, the reason why "it's so hard for so many people to just enjoy Star Trek as just fun entertainment" is, in all likelihood, because "Star Trek" was never presented that way to begin with, from Gene Roddenberry on down. If people want to view it (or Apocalypse Now for that matter) as just fun entertainment, that's fine, but given its origins, it hardly seems surprising that many people would take it more seriously.
24.05.2009 - 6h13
|Oh, blast, pre-empted. That last comment was in reference to Vulpecula.
Reading Alex's reminded me of possibly my favorite moment in all of Trek, TOS:"The City on the Edge of Forever". And exactly what will probably never come again if we continue on the vector originating at DS9 and thus far culminating in this movie, the action focus. I really like the original two Treks for those moments when it really sucks you in, it is such a shame that slower paced programming no longer sells.
That being said, the fact that they were filled with so much ham acting that Muslims world-wide cried out wouldn't fly today. That is a definite plus.
If only they could tie in the who morality thing, and maybe make stories that could stand to minor scrutiny in these action installments (See, DS9, VOY and ENT for examples of shining excellence [and some utter crap VOY:"Tuvix", anyone?]). I had fun, but When you see the movie and episodes like DS9's "Sacrifice of Angels" and "Favor the Bold" or ENT's "Storm Front" and "The Expanse", big action numbers all, they are so much more special because they are rare and actually offer something in terms of plot.
"I could have saved her...do you know what you just did?!"