I refuse to call myself a "Trekker." It's way too pretentious. But yes, I know the Star Trek episodes by name. I can recite much of the dialog. I have been to a Star Trek convention - only one. I've gone to the San Diego Comi-con a bunch of times though. That was actually where I first saw the Star Trek bloopers. Talk about different times - the convention was held at the El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego. I may have already hit double-digits, age-wise - but we are talking tween as opposed to teen (I'm guessing I was about 11). My dad dropped me and my younger sister off at the convention and said to have fun and he'd pick us up later. We had a blast. Do kids get to do stuff like this any more, just run around on their own all day at a comic book convention?
Anyway, I have a long history with Star Trek. The original series only, thank you very much. The one that was truly iconic. All the other iterations are just TV shows. So I pretty much had to go see the new J.J. Abrams "reboot" (NOTE TO CULTURAL ARBITRATORS: Can we eliminate the term "reboot" as it applies to a new version of an old cultural product. And while you're at it, would you please remove "mash-up" as well? Thanks. Much appreciated).
Today I walked to Santa Monica and plunked down my $9.50 (and THIS for a matinee! I am so spoiled by free studio screenings). My thoughts:
First, AMC Santa Monica, fix your damn screen. This was the big screen theater and the bottom half of it was all scuffed and had, like, huge water-marks on it or something. I mean, this big damn blotch on the lower right that you'd see every time the scene had any kind of lighting. I thought about leaving but figured most of the movie would be in outer space, which tends to be dark. I had reckoned without the bridge of the Enterprise, which as some have remarked, resembles an Apple Store. But I did forget about the ugly blotch and skid-marks after a while, and anyway, those weren't the movie's fault.
On to the movie.
The story: meh. I mean, another time travel story, Kirk, he is teh REBEL, and uh, red matter? Huh? It's best not to think too much about the story; it falls apart on close examination.
The direction: I could have lived without so much shaky cam, but that wasn't as distracting as I'd feared. (NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD FILM DIRECTORS: Shaky Cam and Lens flares actually do not create realism. These visual devices have become a cliche). So it was okay.
The cast: here's where the movie rocked. Really. When you have actors who are so closely identified with roles, as the actors who played the crew in the original Star Trek, it's really hard to imagine anyone else playing those parts. But this is where the "iconic" nature of the original Star Trek comes in. Those weren't actually caricatures, they were archetypes. Who knew?
I'd had serious doubts about Chris Pine, and if I were Queen of the Star Trek universe, he wouldn't have been the guy I'd cast. He's too young. Too callow. But you know, he had the cocky, arrogant, womanizing part down, and at the end, I swear he was actually channelling the Shat. This is a good thing, no matter what anyone thinks.
Zachary Quinto. Great job. I'd read reviews complaining that he was too pissy, too insecure, too emotional, too conflicted. Um, guys who wrote these reviews? Did you ever actually watch Star Trek? That's the character! He's actually a little too sexy for Spock, who in spite of his teen idol status back in the day, was not really sexy. He was repressed, and he was the guy with whom so many fans identified - super brainy, doesn't fit in, pretends he's in control when he's really not - except he was also super-cool! Which most fans were not, but wished they were.
Karl Urban - wow. Now here's a guy who is much more attractive (IMO) than Chris Pine, and he's playing Dr. McCoy. Cool! Hunky McCoy! He was just spot-on. He actually wore a pinky ring, and those of you who are Trekkies like me know the significance of this. More McCoy in the next movie, please. They need to get that Star Trek triad thing going.
Simon Pegg - inspired casting. More Scotty next time out as well.
The rest of the crew were okay. They did give Uhuru something to do, and that's a good thing, but I can't say that Zoe Saldana is a really knock your socks off actor, or maybe it was the part. But she was okay. And John Cho - isn't he too old for Sulu? And, not as cute? Though at least he got to fence.
But, you know, whatever. I'm old school, but I'm not a purist.
The other than main crew casting...Bruce Greenwood - VERY good. He owned it.
Spock's parents...eh. Okay. Didn't stand out. I stand alone in thinking that Winona was actually a little better than Ben Cross, but what the hell was that outfit with the breast shelf?! I'm a little miffed with certain aspects of messing with canon here, plus the inconsistent performance of the transporters, but, well, I won't get into that. This is a spoiler-free zone.
Eric Bana as the villain Nero - well, it's not his fault. Not a particularly interesting part.
So, my recommendation. Do the sequel. Write it better. Keep it focused on the characters, because that was the part of this that really worked.
Oh, and the music. Sigh. Typical boring hero movie. The first Star Trek had some seriously kick-ass music. Weird stuff from real composers. Great music. Iconic, even. This score was another typical grandiose theme, a little tribal percussion for the bad guys thrown in, whatever.
And then, at the very end, finally. They played the original Star Trek theme. A kind of lame version, I thought. But still. They played it. And that's Star Trek.
Now, if only they'd used Shatner's original narration....seriously, guys. That would have been cool.