May 7th, 2009
...a day long awaited. The IMAX screen went dark. A trailer for Night @ The Museum 2 played to the mocking snickers of all. The trailers ended. A Paramount logo appeared with an unfamiliar Lost-esque musical score humming. Blurry lights, submarine squawks and a giant wall of metal soared past the screen. The wall of metal drifted away... it was a Federation starship! My mouth dropped open in awe of how detailed and real it felt - this was what Starfleet looked like with actual cinematic vision thrown at it. There were some 'splosions, some drama and sturm-und-drang, the prologue ended and a familiar arrowhead twirled in slowly with a certain special pair of words silhouetted in the foreground:
This was it. After all the long years of shite B-grade TV and movies, after all the teasing and ridicule, after two release date push backs, after endless doubt & worry, a dream had come true. Our beloved space opera was finally being given the treatment & recognition it deserved. This is easily, as 95% or whatever of the nation's critics have already said, one of the greatest summer thrill rides to come out in a decade. Even more importantly the movie achieves this without selling its proverbial soul: hip and stylish as it might be, this is still very much the same good ole Star Trek we know and love. It's like an old friend who leaves town for a year or five and returns slightly changed... some catching-up is needed but deep down they're still the same person.
Sure there are problems and minor missteps (Nokia??) but the broad strokes, what really matters, are absolutely utterly nailed: the sense of adventure, the cheer & optimism, the grungy camp tone (something lost after TOS)... Best of all is the handling of character, each one given at least one moment in the spotlight to highlight their contribution. Quinto & Urban's portrayals of Spock & Bones are nicely layered while Pine in particular manages to make Kirk his own without resorting to impersonation. For characters so completely defined by the original actors portraying them, all three of these performances are feats if not miraculous. Bruce Greenwood (Cpt. Pike) and Eric Bana (teh evilz villain) are noteworthy as well, the former for the authority he brings to a character not well established in TOS, the latter for complexity he brings to an otherwise 2D underwritten character.
It's no masterpiece though, no matter how much some including me might wish it was. It's in the A-tier but the RT rank is an overrating. Main reason, perhaps a necessary evil: it's a bit rushed - see poorly handled mid-movie 5min exposition monologue in the snow cave. There were a number of key moments where I knew I was supposed to feel emotion but for whatever reason it just wasn't coming through. An extra story beat or two would have solved this problem, but would've also detracted from the film's breakneck pace. Considering Star Trek's goal was to court a new generation of young fans this was probably a worthwhile sacrifice, perhaps Star Trek 12 whenever it comes out will have the breathing room to tell a deeper fleshed out story. For now, weesa happee.
The Kobayashi Maru test
Assorted Good Lines:
"Why don't you get five more and we'll be even." - Kirk
(re: Uhura) "I would rather not discuss it." - Spock
"You have been and always shall be my friend." - Spock
"...green blooded hobgoblin." - Bones
"I may throw up on you." - Bones
"I can do this, I can do this!" - Chekov
"I'ma given her all she's gote!" - Scotty
How it ends:
A famous voice-over.