"Star Trek (2009)" is presented in a 1080p 2.40:1 aspect ratio Blu-Ray. Video quality is terrific. A very light film grain is present which is quite accurate compared to the theatrical presentation. Black levels are inky and deep, colors are vivid but still accurate. Close-ups demonstrate a lot of detail, especially facial close-ups. Space scenes are also swimming with detail, since most every space ship in this film is in various numbers of pieces or states of damage. Noticeable edge-enhancement and digital noise reduction are non-existent.
Simply put, this is five star material all the way. Anyone who enjoys action/sci-fi eye candy for their HD setup would do well to purchase this disc. It is demo-worthy material. This may be the single best Blu-Ray I have seen - it at least ties in visual quality with the excellent Braveheart and Frost/Nixon discs.
Sound is presented in a well-balanced Dolby TrueHD mix, which is notable for not only its punch and vibrancy, but also the fact that it never drowns out dialogue. This is something that many action movies fail to accomplish, and it is most appreciated, at least by this viewer. I HATE it when I have to constantly adjust the volume on the fly in order to hear whispers of dialogue, only to have my speakers threaten to blow out when some sudden burst of noisy action occurs. "Star Trek (2009)" is wonderfully well-done in this respect. Surround channels get a lot of work, bass is booming at appropriate moments, so just like the video, audio is stellar. Also included are commentaries with Director and writers (no, they do not apologize for various inconsistencies and mistakes) and some foreign language tracks. The subtitles are a little odd - sometimes they fail to transcribe dialogue. 95% of the stuff is there, but there are clearly things missing - Kirk says "wow" upon seeing the Enterprise, and it is nowhere to be found in the subtitle track. Not a deal-breaker, just weird.
Extras are copious and presented in HD, which is great. However, this disc suffers from a recent trend in home video extras - they are split into 30 separate chunks, presumably to look better on box copy. So you are forced to navigate a menu with 30 choices, with no markers for what you've already seen, in order to see all of the features. This is too bad, because the features are really, really good. If they had been spliced into one 2-hour making of feature, one set of deleted scenes, and one gag reel, this would be just about the perfect set of extras. Instead, you are made to do "work" instead of just enjoying the "fun." The deleted scenes, by the way, are also in HD, and most would have made the movie better. They should have just finished the effects and incorporated them into the film proper.
In the special features, the producers and director make it very clear that their guiding question when making the film was "Can we make it cool?" Well, they've succeeded at making it "cool." Unfortunately in making this their emphasis, they have also made some severe missteps that make it difficult to swallow as a serious Trek fan.
So I'll review this movie wearing two hats. First, for "the rest of you:"
"Star Trek (2009)" offers a bold re-imagining of a venerable television science fiction franchise. To a certain extent, it sheds much of the baggage accumulated over 40 years of television and films, giving non-Trekkies an easy entree into the universe.
We are given the tale of Kirk, Spock and McCoy taking the reins of the Starship Enterprise, in a galaxy populated by both humans and other races. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a brash young man who is set adrift by the attack of a Romulan villain upon the ship carrying his parents. Without the influence of his father, a Starfleet officer, Kirk has an aimless childhood, squandering his intellect and his drive on bar brawls and car thefts. Luckily, he is intercepted by the wise, gruff Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and challenged to make a better life for himself and to live up to his ability by joining Starfleet.
There, he meets fellow cadets Uhura (Zoe Saldana), McCoy (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho), and an irritating instructor, the cool, logical Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto). Their contrasting styles immediately put them at odds with each other. Spock has grown up the child of two worlds, with a human mother, and a father from Vulcan, a planet whose culture has embraced logic and the shedding of emotion, except perhaps the emotion of racism against humans.
Before their education is complete, they are presented with the threat of the same villain who had killed Kirk's dad 25 years prior - Nero (Eric Bana). Turns out Nero is from the future, and is bent on revenge for the destruction of his home world, Romulus. In a plot development somewhat like "Space Camp," for some unstated reason, every other ship is somewhere else, and there are no trained crew members available for the newly-built Enterprise. So the cadets are drafted into service right then and there.
Various plot twists and turns see Kirk marooned on an ice planet, where he meets not only Scotty (a very funny Simon Pegg) but also a much older Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This old Spock explains that the visitor from the future has changed history, and that Kirk must team up with the younger Spock, melding their disparate styles and talents into a team that can defeat the threat.
Overall, the plot moves very quickly, and might be a bit confusing to those not versed in Trek lore. But the speed, noise, and bombast are such that pausing to consider holes in story logic (and there are quite a few) is not really feasible until after the movie has finished. The effects, music, and performances are all flashy and dazzling, and it is hard not to feel aggressively entertained by the whole spectacle. Especially charming are Pine as Kirk and Quinto as Spock. Their chemistry works well. There were really no casting problems for the heroes. The villain, Nero, is somewhat less successful, as his motivations are rather obscure, especially to an audience not familiar with Romulans, time travel, and the like.
It is all done with ample brio and verve - enough panache to surmount its sometimes lazy storytelling and slipshod logic. On a scale of ten, I'd give it a solid 7, perhaps even an 8. It is much more entertaining than the average Hollywood popcorn movie, mainly on the strength of the characters and the performances.
Now, for the Trekkies:
"Star Trek (2009)" is the product of Hollywood corporate committees, shedding "baggage" in such a way that it dilutes some of the core concepts and appeal of the show which gave rise to the Trekkie faithful in the first place.
The characters from the original series are brought together in a way which feels quite far from organic, presumably because Hollywood executives were worried that a slower tale that realistically developed their relationships would fail to satisfy audiences unused to thinking and realism. Instead of being members of a logically coherent military organization, each with careers and internal lives of their own, all of our principal characters are roughly the same age and have the same amount of experience, despite the fact that by the end of the film, they all have different ranks and specialties. Especially galling at the end is the instantaneous promotion of Kirk from 25-year-old Starfleet cadet (not even a graduate, as he is in his third year of studies) directly to Captain of the fleet's newest and most advanced flagship. It would be akin to a fresh West Point graduate being given command of the invasion of Afghanistan, or an Annapolis cadet being given command of an aircraft carrier. Why would anyone who had invested a lifetime in this organization respect any order that escapes his lips? Equally puzzling are the promotions of all the other crew members at the end as well - why is Kirk a Captain, but McCoy a Commander, Uhura a Lieutenant, Chekov an Ensign? They all have the same amount of experience and "seasoning" (i.e. none).
This is the sort of world-breaking contrivance that litters the film (want some more examples? "Transwarp Beaming" immediately springs to mind...). Which is too bad, because "Star Trek (2009)" ably captures the feel of the previous shows, mixing humor, fisticuffs, and dazzling gadgetry in nearly the perfect proportions. It fails, however, to add the integral piece - a logically consistent world, one that creates and follows its own rules, one that is similar enough to our own to be comprehensible, but different and better enough that it inspires admiration and wonder, and makes you yearn to live in it. It is a bit of a tragedy, since just a few tweaks and edits could have turned a story full of world-breaking holes and missteps into pretty much the best Trek movie ever.
The quality of special effects is above that of the other films and series, and will definitely impress Trek veterans who are used to less. Many in-jokes and subtler references abound, and will no doubt elicit smiles and chuckles from those who are "in the know."
But that certain something is missing. That special thing which makes something "Trek," and not just "Generic Space Opera #12." There isn't much "Real" science fiction, for one thing - black holes and space ships could have been substituted with quicksand and stage coaches - they are not concepts that drive the plot or the characters or the world, instead they are generic perils, and devices to surmount those dangers. But heck, that could be said of some of the other films, those films that, despite their failings, we would still call "real" Trek. What is missing is the logical consistency of the world. Continuity. "Baggage." In stripping "Star Trek (2009)" down to something that will appeal to a "mass" audience, the producers of this film have denatured it into something reminiscent, but not recognizable.
This is an entertaining film, no doubt about it. If you are not a Trekkie, you will probably love it. You should buy it. It's a terrific disc to give your home theater a workout.
If you are a Trekkie, you may have mixed feelings. I do. But you should still probably buy it. Consider it a riff on Star Trek. The greatest, biggest budget fan film ever made. It doesn't all work, the writing isn't all good, and a certain something is missing. But it's an entertaining ride that will probably make you yearn for the "real thing" all the more.
on September 26, 2009
9/8/66. It's a badge that Original Trekkers wear proudly -- the date that the very first Star Trek episode ("The Man Eater") appeared on television. I bear it, and Star Trek hooked me that very Thursday evening, and for the next three years, I sat through all 69 episodes, both the best ("Oh Boy! The Trouble with Tribbles") and the worse ("Oh, no! Not that one!"). When they began to appear in syndication, I watched them over and over until I could repeat the lines with the characters. And, no, I'm not going to tell you who my favorite character was.
It's been 43 years since that first episode. I'm still hooked.
A lot of my compatriots have said that J.J. Adams' "reboot" of the Star Trek franchise went too far -- they weren't ready for some of the things that happened (and, for the sake of those readers who have not seen the movie, I'm not going to reveal what those things are). They didn't like the changes in the mythos that occurred. OK, fine. Different strokes ...
I, however, love this film, and would have gone to see it over and over again if it hadn't been that my darling didn't really want to (and our budget didn't allow it). So what if things changed? It's an alternate universe -- and any Trekker worth her salt will recognize those occur -- Remember "Mirror, Mirror?" A planet blows up, and I admit, given the planet, I'm pretty sad (no, it's not Earth). I'm also sad that Scottie used Admiral Archer's favorite beagle for an experiment, and it hasn't been seen since (Okay, so one slipped out).
However, the most powerful ideas and characters remain true to their alternate others: Kirk is strong, handsome, creative in a crisis (and may be a womanizer, although he doesn't get the woman he wants here), even if he's not William Shatner. Spock struggles to keep his emotions in check and his logic foremost (tremendously well-played by Zachary Quinto). "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban, unexpectedly unlike many of his fantasy and SF rolls)is humane, funny, and passionate -- and a lot better looking than the well-beloved, late DeForest Kelley. Bruce Greenwood ("The Core"), Simon Pegg, Ben Cross (superb as Sarak) and Winona Ryder (Amanda! And I am getting to be too old) are all wonderful, and add strength, passion and substance to both their characters and the film. It was, however, sad to see Leonard Nimoy, as "our" Mr./Abassador Spock, late in his life, and know we probably never see him in another Star Trek film.
So. Buy it? Damn straight. Get it for your children and yourselves.
Star Trek would have never died for me, anyway, because I've dreamed of walking on another planet ever since I saw that first episode. But now, Star Trek will come alive for a fourth generation to learn those same dreams.
The minor disappointments I had with some little items are buried by the amount of great things that is the Star Trek Blu. The packaging is the single hinged chassis with cardboard slip cover, but the info sheet (typical rear cover art) is a hot-glued paper that cannot fit anywhere once it comes off. The resulting Blu art front is a head shot of Pine and the back is Quinto.
The picture is as good as would be expected, with plenty of great space effects, the heavy lens glare that Abrams likes does not bleed too bad but ILM does not disappoint. They went with TrueHD which gives an adequate immersion, some of the best tests were with Spocks ship and that unique sound (but 7.1 DTS would have been nice). Plenty of reference points throughout, but even with that clarity I still couldn't get a read on some of the little things (tried freezing the fence signs in the Corvette scene, freezing some of the panel displays to read what the actors were looking at, etc.). But what takes the time and is worth every moment for the supplement geeks like me is the entire disc 2.
Disc 1: Menus are unfortunately only minimal still animation (no live action or HD pics).
Commentary by the makers.
Disc 2: Blue screen animated left sided selections. Most items pop up with an "extended" option that has an icon appear when watching each documentary to facilitate viewing little snippets of additional material, or each one can be watched individually - no play all on anything with this disc.
* 16:41 To Boldly Go. Several extensions including the Kirk dilemma (1:58), more Green Girl stuff (3:25). The main piece covers aspects of creation, whys and what fors. All of these supplements are HD interviews of the filmmakers spliced with low def footage (past and present Treks).
* 28:53 Casting. Once again all HD present footage mixed with grainy low def shots of behind the scenes - gives some good material on why we saw who we did.
* 24:33 Starships. Concepts, art design and some of my favorite stuff on the making of regarding construction. Seven extensions are selectable here including Warp Drive and Paint stuff.
* 16:30 Aliens. Shows the meetings and thought process behind some of the critters and humanoids. Five extensions here.
* 16:10 Planets. Some nice history for Trek regarding the Vasquez Rocks, which showed an obvious deleted sequence - made me look forward to those even more.
* 9:22 Props and Costumes. One extension here about Klingons - which led to another whole deleted sequence I was now REALLY wanting to watch them.
* 9:45 Sounds. I enjoyed this one the most as the sounds intrigued me when I first saw this in theaters. Nice homage/respect paid to the old series connections.
* 8:47 Gene Roddenberry vision. A nice history with at least half of it being Nimoy narrating/being interviewed (there was a blatant absence of someone here but you will notice that through this entire set).
* 13:30 Deleted Scenes - FINALLY. Play all option with commentary on/off of Abrams, Kurtzman.
- Spock's birth. Throughout all of these you notice Winona's entire screen time was removed. Nice little plug on how he gets his name.
- Klingon battle with the Narada, effects unfinished - which leads into an entire storyline removal - did not agree with the reasons for the removal but oh well.
- Dysfunctional home life of the early Kirk sequence. Explains who that kid was on the road and who the voice was on the car phone.
- Spock's parents arguing about which side Spock should embrace.
- Klingon Prison Planet sequence - wow. I want this in the director's cut. Would have explained a great deal of how Nero and the Narada disappeared.
- Vulcan sequence prior to destruction (Vasquez Rocks).
- Kirk and Green Girl - can never have too much of that. Once you see this you can find out what Uhura and Kirk were really talking about in the theatrical cut (Klingon Prison - not battle).
- Scene involving more Green Girl and Kirk defeating the Maru test - good scene.
- Kirk apologizing to Green Girl - had to go once the others were cut.
* Simulator: Mix of animated and slight HD footage of interactive material on the Enterprise and the Narada. The vast majority of material centers on the Narada (weapons, propulsion etc.).
* 6:22 Gag Reel. A brief retro title sequence followed by a hilarious slew of swearing by even the best (priceless watching Nimoy cuss his lines). Fast paced and fun.
* 3 trailers.
Everything subtitled in French, Spanish, & Port.
Disc 3. Digital copy and game demo. Did not use either.
Overall, I had a great time going through all of this and I honestly think even the discerning Trekkie will be happy with this product. Yes, I feel the deleted scenes should have been left in as they explained some obvious gaps in the film, but at least we got to see them. The HD screenings have been very popular and I don't tire of watching this through and through. Enjoy.
on January 6, 2010
In the documentary on the DVD of the new "Star Trek" film(which a friend gave to me when he upgraded to the 2-disc set), director JJ Abrams said that he always felt that Star Trek was limited by the technology for creating spectacular shots and things. Really? I always thought that Star Trek's greatest technological limitation was the speed at which a typewriter could type. That's because Star Trek at its best was about ideas - not spectacle - and the writers for the original series were among the best science fiction writers around. Star Trek has never been as popular as Star Wars because Star Trek asked its audience to think - and whenever you do that, you're going to limit the size of your audience.
Still, I don't have a problem with hyping things up a bit or using a new cast to play the older characters. What I do have a problem with is a bad story, which is what this film has. I mean, was it really necessary to show everybody at the Academy together? Kirk and Chekov are years apart in age and should have been at the Academy years apart - but no, there they are together.
Some of the scenes, like the one of the kid Kirk in the stolen car or the cadet Kirk doing the Kobayashi Maru test were embarassing. How about showing new starships being built complete on the ground? (They have to be assembled in space because they can't fly through the atmosphere.) Everybody's at the Academy together, so how do we get Kirk to be captain at the end? We'll just promote a third year Academy cadet to be the captain of the fleet's newest flagship, that's how! (Can you really imagine the US Navy naming an Annapolis cadet to be captain of its newest aircraft carrier? I don't think so.)
There were some parts that I liked, mostly early on, such as the scenes aboard the Kelvin with Kirk's father (and his 1960's hairstyle) and Spock's early days on Vulcan. After those, though, things went downhill. Abrams could have just used a new cast and a new style to go back to the early days and show it in a different way, but no. He had to come up with this contrivance and essentially erase everything that happened before him - because according to this film, what happened in the original series never happened!
In short, this film is a triumph of style over substance. It may look cool, but it's hollow at the core. J.J. Abrams has taken an intelligent series and turned it into a comic strip. It is Star Trek in name only. (If you want comic strip Trek, I'd suggest you look for the animated series from the early 70s. It's much more intelligent - and much better - than this film.)
In order to get big rewards in life you have to take big risks. If there is one thing that the Star Trek universe hasn't done in 20-25 years its take risks. The franchise has suffered greatly for it, continuing to follow a formulaic approach that has made the franchise stale, predictable, and for quite a while... DEAD. Not sick, not on life support, but D-E-A-D.
Those days are over.
The 11th feature presentation is quite simply the first GREAT Star Trek movie ever made. While others in the series have been enjoyable, there was no definitive movie that stood out, nothing that could be pointed to as something unique, something special, something that takes RISKS.
What you get here is the biggest risk that has ever been taken in the Star Trek universe in its 40+ years of existence.
I will not ruin this risk but if you are a fan of the movies at all you will know it when you see it. Being a long time fan of Star Trek (I am a Next Generation first and foremost) and having seen the trailer numerous times I figured out what was going to happen about 20 minutes before it did but that didn't stop the shock when I witnessed this awesome writing decision played out on the big screen. The strongest of Star Trek lovers (especially TOS people) will no doubt have a lot of outrage at this risk but it was the right move to make. The Star Trek franchise needed to be shaken up, it needed something fresh and it needed a movie to shock and awe the audience.
Man did it ever deliver.
This movie is an absolute JOY to experience. Spock was always my favorite TOS personality as he probably was for most fans, but I never felt the connection to this cast that I did to Picard, Data, Worf and the Next Gen cast so I really didn't care what changes they made (and there is another major change that involves 2 characters that you never have experienced before in TOS history) if they were for the better. In all cases these were for the better and executed with near-perfection by JJ Abrams (who might later be revered on the same level as Gene Rodenberry if this re-visioning [this is much more than a simple reboot] succeeds like I think it will).
Since I don't like getting too deep into spoilers with reviews instead of focusing on the story (try your best to stay ignorant as possible of the story so its fresher when you see the film) I will instead focus on the characters we know so well (and some we don't).
True To The Character We Know
Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) - Even though Kirk (ahhem William Shatner) was advertised as the lead of TOS, the real centerpiece was Spock. The work here by Quinto is beyond exceptional and complements the amazing work done by Leonard Nimoy the past 40 years. Quinto plays the character as well as you could imagine and the real special thing in this movie is that finally (FINALLY) the half human side of Spock is heavily examined. It is a major part of the movie and no doubt will continue to be focused on in future films. Spock is no more or less important to the crew and story as he always has been. Other actors could do lesser work (they didn't) but the movie franchise will only succeed as well as Quinto acts. The character is in the best of hands.
Bones (played by Karl Urban) - The gem of the entire movie without question. Karl Urban takes the difficult role of playing not only Bones but Bones played by DeForest Kelley and is he ever amazing. It's a complete joy to watch his character on the screen. Urban doesn't need to do anything different in future films. You can tell how hard he worked to keep the Bones character as he has always been and he hits a home run out of the park. Wonderful wonderful wonderful
Scotty (played by Simon Pegg) - We don't meet Scotty until far into the movie but Pegg does a great job doing James Doohan. Since Scotty was always kind of the "middle" character on the show where he wasn't wasted but wasn't the tops (Spock, Kirk, Bones) all Pegg had to do was do a good Scotty and hopefully the script-writers would give him more to do. This is the case here.
Revisions And Improvements Made
Kirk (played by Chris Pine) - No longer do we get the ultra womanizing, overacting of Kirk/William Shatner but we get instead a focus on the risk-taking side of Kirk and this is the Kirk that I could truly learn to love. Over and over again we see why Kirk in Star Trek canon is revered so much and his take no prisoners approach is put on the front burner all throughout this film. Pine is confident and does a fantastic job. I don't care how revered Shatner is, the writers got it right with this re-visioning of Kirk and it's thumbs up all the way.
Sulu (played by John Cho) - Not much to say here. Cho was fine but nothing amazing in his performance. Sulu fights a little bit but hopefully more focus can be made on him in the future, no problems here but nothing jumps out.
Uhura (played by Zoe Saldana) - As a communications officer her role is MUCH better in this re-visioning. She is given more intelligent input by the script-writers but the one major canon change of Uhura (which I can't go into detail in this review) I am still trying to determine how I feel about. Her mod is the 2nd biggest risk/mod taken in the movie.
Chekov (played by Anton Yeltin) - Except for being Russian and making fun of his thick accent this is a completely new character and man was this a serious improvement. Instead of the bumbling doofus that really doesn't do anything now Chekov is a ultra-young uber-intelligent officer that plays pivotal parts in the movie. Yes this was a serious canon change but I can't imagine how any fan wouldn't approve because now you have a real character you can be emotionally attached to.
Nero (played by Eric Bana) - Bana instantly becomes one of the main villains in Star Trek lore and in my opinion because of events in the movie he now becomes THE single villain in Star Trek history. I wish Nero could have been on the screen more but with only 2 hours and so many people to get on the screen I think the right balance was struck.
XXX - You will know who this is when you see them. I have no complaints other than one voice-over part where the narration seems a bit droll and uninspired but I also think this is because of the circumstance how they are speaking. This old friend was a +++ to the movie and not just a ploy to get people in the seats. A welcome addition to the movie and plot.
Bridge - The new bridge is the most gorgeous bridge you will ever see. Some say it looks 'too sexy' or 'too bright' but THIS is how the bridge should have always looked. Please please please don't change it for the future films. You have already achieved the perfect look.
Score - The one downside of the movie. The 3rd trailer featured some of the most gorgeous background score ever and my hopes were very high. The score that is featured in the movie is serviceable but doesn't inspire. I was disappointed with the end result. It's alright but it could have been so much more.
IMO 'Star Trek' achieves what only 1 Star Trek movie (IV - The Voyage Home) came close to doing and that is being a successful film to the general public, not just Star Trek fans in general. This is the quickest 2 hours you will spend this summer and an absolute joy. I can see several movies being made with this cast and I hope several are made. The events of this film make for a realistic approach to the original cast working anew in these new revisions. As the movie ended I wished I could move ahead 2-3 years in time to see the next chapter and the next and the next.
Everyone likes to rank the movies in order and I knew 1 hour in this was EASILY (note I don't even flinch when I say EASILY EASILY EASILY) the greatest Star Trek movie ever made. You know a movie succeeds when a character or a movie itself feels like candy for the brain (last year Heath Ledgers Joker was the ultimate 'candy') and this is some yummy candy.
If you are a Star Trek fan go see it and try to have an open mind for what you will see. Many will be fine with the changes made. For the ones that aren't would you rather have changes and new Star Trek movies or the same old same old that had ruined the franchise for so long (kudos to Rick Berman as the official murderer of ST)??? If you are just a person that loves movies you (yes YOU) can even enjoy Star Trek as this movie has been produced not just for the Trekkie but the every day Joe and Jane.
***** HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION
on November 15, 2009
I would encourage anyone who has neglected to read the one star reviews to breeze by a few. They overanalyze, nit-pick, cry canon, and all the while they forget where Star Trek came from. Plot holes, fuzzy science, continuity problems and totally illogical sequences of events are all par for the course. Star Trek was pitched, forty-odd years ago, as a "wagon train to the stars." Your archetypical white hats shoot it out with your archetypical black hats and justice prevails. Star Trek swapped out six shooters for phasers and recast Tonto as a guy with pointy ears and an unfortunate hair cut. It's kitsch with just the right amount of heart. Those among you who regard this movie as a corruption of the creator's vision, let me remind you that his vision included: Nazi planets, Mafia planets, space hippies, badly choreographed fight sequences with stunt doubles that bear no resemblance to the actors, and less than a dozen filmed sequences and stills of the starship Enterprise that were reused over and over again for the duration of the series (all very grainy and since they have been digitized, you can see the wire the ship was hanging by.) Silliness, but we love it. Like a big old spacey cheeseburger. And I think that J.J. Abrams cinematic offering is a clear demonstration of that same love. There are a number of things that don't make sense ... but now, when people crack jokes about James T. Kirk making out with green women, they will actually have some basis for it. Never actually happened on the show.
on December 7, 2009
The first five minutes are terrific, and I thought to myself, "This movie has no business being this good." And guess what -- it isn't. Right after that we get a cute little kid driving a fast car, and from there it hardly ever gets any smarter. Great look, great effects (and the Blu-ray looks vivid and sharp), but what was the story again? Oh yeah - we're putting the band back together, and there's a big ugly ship we have to go blow up, because it's already blown up our ships, and a planet too. And it came from the future through a black hole - though that really doesn't matter (because in a movie, evil ships can come from anywhere). Except that the half-assed time travel and alternate universe hooks do give us a convenient excuse to take our Muppet Babies characters and file them down to the most rudimentary clichés (e.g. Kirk is a passionate human, so he rides a motorcycle, get in barfights, and sleeps with any random green-skinned slut he can bed down), and then claim that they were "reimagined." Bring these clowns together by a series of stupid coincidences, and what do you have? High-priced crap.
I'm no pointy-eared conventioneer, but this made me feel sorry for what the show originally was.
on September 6, 2009
Spoiler alert: Don't read if you haven't watched the movie yet, and don't want to know too much in advance.
First off let me say that I am a devoted Star Trek fan, but not a die hard trecker. I don't own a Star Trek encyclopedia, never went to an event, don't speak klingon, and don't own a uniform. But I grew up watching the original series in reruns (TOS). I was so hooked, I never missed a single episode if I could somehow help it, come hell or high water. I also loved the motion pictures with the original cast. But they lost me with TNG (the next generation). I really tried to like it, but never came to care for the characters. Enter the Borgs and I was so disgusted that at that point I jumped ship. Everything produced after TNG went straight over my head. From what I learned, I am not the only one.
I watched this new movie three times. Then I spent a lot of time online reading reviews and opinions. I carefully read all the the complains, the criticism. And I can't help but agree. Does this movie carry a message? Other than the hint about water boarding, probably not. Is it about peaceful exploration? No! Does it suffer from ADHD? Is it too fast paced, is there too much action and violence packed in a weak story line, does it have huge plot holes? Is the Kirk character a little over the edge? Does Spock act out of character? Does the whole time travel and alternative universe business stink somewhat? Yes, guilty on all charges. Did I care for this thing between Spock and Uhura? Nay...
Is this Star Trek after all??? Yes, it is!
I loved the movie. In fact, I weeped with joy. This movie makes me feel like being reunited with dear long lost friends that were left behind for dead. Not to mention the fact that it beamed me right back into my childhood.
The key figures of the cast are terrific! Time for a big sigh of relief: Zacchary Quinto was spot on, which is vital for many folks including me who feel that Spock is the character that makes Star Trek truly special. Chris Pine and Karl Urban did a fantastic job too. All supporting characters also are portrayed very well. I admit I didn't care at all for Ben Cross as Sarek. He somehow always lookes like he was pouting.
Some of the characters come with a slightly different flavor. Spock is still a little green behind the ears (pun intended!). Kirk is over the edge rebellious, constantly hanging over a cliff with a bloody nose, and doesn't show any interest of classic literature as of yet . But all that makes sense, its an age thing.
The only really regrettable twist concerns Amanda. Her character hardly gets any attention and than gets killed of. Along with the whole planet Vulcan at that. That is really hard to stomach, I am still chewing on that one.
And still this movie feels so GOOD! It's hard to explain, but I give it a try.
Every once in a while along comes a show or story that simply is somehow...magic. That has the stuff fairy tales are made of. That has something that resonates with a primal common core deep inside. Magic is not just a thing of the distant past; they still make that stuff. Really! Simply by following ancient, time proven recipes.
Walt Disney, for example, knows a thing or two about magic. Cinderella will never go out of style!
Star Trek TOS has that magic. This is why it survived early cancellation in the late sixties. Not only survived, but from there it kept thriving. Despite the painfully cheesy low budget production and reluctant studio bosses who did their best to slash creativity for ratings. Despite the 'Mary Sues' in ridiculously short mini skirts, and terrible special effects. Maybe Star Trek TOS survived and thrived not despite but because it was cancelled, who knows?
Don't take me wrong, many of the episodes contain great drama, good conflict with plenty of thought provoking messages. Reflecting on the war in Vietnam Rodenberry's Starfleet stands for a military force as it should be, using weapons only as a last option, strictly adhering to the prime directive of non interference but still somehow finding ways to stand its ground. What is not to like?
But the main reason for Star Trek TOS's huge success is the character constellation and the chemistry between them. Because they all present old, well known stereotypes.
The Kirk, Spock and McCoy troika forms the core. Spock, superior to the mere humans around him, standing for knowledge, science, reason and control, McCoy for expressing and dealing with lower emotions like fear and doubt, but also deep care and nurture as a healer or doctor. The love/hate relationship between those two provides great drama and charming humor. Kirk consults with these two opposites, puts it all together, adds human instincts, intuition and leadership. Now Enterprise is ready to take action.
This set of 3 is supported by a framework made of the 4 remaining personalities on the Enterprise bridge, each presenting a different corner and culture of the globe. Uhura from Africa the South, soft spoken and exotic. Scott from Scotland in the North, crafty and energetic. Sulu from Japan in the West, calm with a zen like smile. And Chekov from Russia in the East, the youngest in the lot, eager to please, still an ensign and somewhat low in the food chain, so he doesn't post any threat to the sixties cold war audience.
They all line up like ducks in a row or the seven chakras. The Enterprise is the shiny powerful vehicle that holds all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Put it all on a new and exciting stage, a promising, positive future, and success is almost inevitable. But if you take away a piece of the puzzle, or the Enterprise, or change the pattern somehow, things get out of balance. This is why things went downhill with all the spin offs. Over time, Star Trek slowly but surely disintegrated.
So cliche, some complain. But that doesn't always has to be a flaw, Here it is a thing of beauty.
The TOS concept is so simple and elegant, is so immensely satisfying. This is why so many people are fascinated by the Star Trek phenomena. It strikes an ancient cord, it resonates with us.
Now, JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, put the pieces back together, and Star Trek as we know and love it is back. They captured the essence and take us to the very beginning of the Enterprise saga and its unique crew, and despite all this new background noise (plot holes, ADHD and all, see above) the story still flows seamlessly, still feels right. Again. All hands back on deck, everybody is back on station. The spirit of Star Trek is back. For that I am eternally grateful!!!
If cutting edge special effects and an action filled plot with with lots of humor help drawing wider attention and get more people on board, well, that's even for the better!
Lets hope that in future sequels our friends stay together and are allowed to do some growing up from here, getting a little more reflective and wiser on the way, taking us along for the ride. And that the spirit of Star Trek doesn't get watered down to oblivion again. And I hope and pray that our new alternate universe doesn't come with Borgs!!! ;-)
To cite Nimoy's Spock: "Have faith that the universe unfolds the way it should" (Star Trek VI). And: "Go with what feels right" (Star Trek 2009)
Well, that is the way I feel!
Please excuse my english, I am not from your world, ummh continent ;-)
on November 17, 2009
The movie is 5 stars. It took me over 4 hours to watch all the special features. JJ knows how to make special features. The picture quality on the Bluray is Jaw dropping clear. I think it looks even better then in the theater.
Now for the statue, very, very cool. Solid metal. The ship is brushed finished, the stand is all shiny chrome except for the inside of the badge symbol is more a brushed finish. It's pretty awesome. My only thing, I expected it to be taller, from the pics, it just seemed taller. Not a deal breaker, just shorter then what I had in my mind looking at the pic for 3 months.
Oh and the certificate of Authenticity, would have been nice if they were numbered 1 of 5000, they are not. Just says it is part of an exclusive limited edition run of 5,000.
J.J. Abrams's new Star Trek movie functions as an unlikely primer in one contemporary movie-making technique: the lens flare. No, I have to admit that I wasn't hugely familiar with lens flare before I saw Star Trek -- I'd heard of it, and I'd also heard that Star Trek was absolutely infested with it, but I wasn't 100% sure that I'd know lens flare when I saw it.
I shouldn't have been so tentative; Star Trek is a wonderfully designed tutorial in the uses and abuses of lens flare, suitable for bringing even the most dilettantish of Big Summer Movie watchers -- myself for example -- into a state of utter awareness of, and complete jadedness with, the Cosmic All of lens flare.
Every single surface in Star Trek is shiny, not excepting the ridiculously young and pretty lead actors themselves. And, since those surfaces are shiny, it only stands to reason that they must emit light at random times -- and so they do!
I pick on J.J. Abrams -- and he definitely does deserve it -- but this movie was planned as a way to bring a new audience to the Trek movies, and it has definitely done that. This Star Trek is definitely a reboot; it starts over from the beginning to make it new-viewer friendly.
At the same time, it reboots itself as part of the plot of the movie, which uses some of Trek's most skiffy (and least SFnal) time-travel tropes, and vast stretches of the dialogue and situations are more "Easter Eggs" for long-time fans than engines to move the plot forward. It's big and shiny and overwhelming, but it's also hollow, with the shiny bits not actually doing anything -- to be a massive Trekkie about it, this is a V'ger of a movie.
Also, the villain is a massive disappointment. If I followed the growling dialogue correctly, Eric Bana's Nero is the random Romulan commander of a mining vessel who was really pissed off when an attempt to save his home planet failed and then somehow blundered a hundred and some years into the past, where his non-military craft had overwhelming power. (And massive numbers of guided missiles, which would seemingly be of little use to a mining craft.) He's a whiny nobody with a huge snit against Spock just because Spock didn't manage to save his planet. (Nero, of course, didn't even try to save his own planet, and there's no sign any Romulan did -- or even tried to evacuate the place.) Abrams is clearly trying to make Nero into Spock's Khan, but it just doesn't work.
If I had been the development executive in charge of Star Trek -- and there's no conceivable universe in which that would be the case -- this script would be the one we'd all laugh at, say positive things like "you're really getting the characters down now," and then ask for something new and original with a real plot and slightly less genocide. (Filmed skiffy has been on a genocide bender for several decades now, but it's about time to put it on the wagon.) The movie we have is OK, and probably was quite impressive on the big screen, but it indulges itself in at least a dozen ways, to the detriment of its strengths as a movie.