To Boldly Go Wild

Okay, J. J. Abrams' Star Trek has been out for a week now (well, about a week and a half actually, but I wasn't able to get around to posting this last Friday like I wanted to), so anyone who has really wanted to see the movie has probably done so by now, which means I should feel free to post my thoughts about it without worry of ruining things with a ton of spoilers. To put it succinctly, I freakin' loved this movie!! At the risk of making it sound like I don't value the opinions of my friends and acquaintances, I tried to think as little as possible of the hype and the positive comments that I'd heard, so as not to get my expectations too high, but I needn't have worried. As I mentioned in a recent post, I went into the theatre hoping to be entertained, and boy, was I ever! The movie was two hours and six minutes long, but it flew by faster than any other movie has for me in quite a while. I'm not sure yet if I like this one better than Star Trek: First Contact, but if I did, that'll mean that it was the best Star Trek movie in eighteen years (since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, if you have trouble doing the math).

This movie may not have been perfect, mind you, but I thought it was about as close as it could come. First of all, I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the way the elder Spock ("our" Spock, or "Spock Prime" as he's technically referred to) was involved in the story. It's not necessarily the fact that he was there, because obviously the story as it was couldn't have existed without his involvement; it's just the specific way he was injected into the chain of events. The image of a revered and aged ambassador and peacemaker flying off in a ship, completely on his own, to launch a probe into a star, is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around -- to me, that's something like watching Nelson Mandela, at the age he is now, charging off in an armored Humvee to pluck a combat soldier from certain death. But, as with every other imperfection in the story, I'm able to more-or-less "speculatively rationalize" it to the point that it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the film. (In this case, I'm assuming that Spock's relationship with the Romulan government vis-à-vis his reunification efforts between them and the Vulcans compelled him to personally involve himself in the matter in question as depicted in the movie.) I also thought that Kirk just happening to end up being dumped on the same ice planet as Spock, and Scotty just happening to be stationed there as well, was an awfully reachy coincidence, but then I just chalked it up to the written-between-the-lines suggestion that it was largely destiny that that classic family of characters would end up coming together. I am, however, still a bit flummoxed at how and why Spock would justify literally throwing Kirk off the ship like he did ... was the brig still being painted or something?!? Oh, and I thought that Scotty's little green sidekick was totally superfluous and kind-of cutesy ... could have easily done without it.

So, what did I love about the movie? Sure, let's pretend that I can narrow it down to some selective list. I really liked the casting ... my favorites are probably Karl Urban as Bones and Anton Yelchin as Chekov; I'd love to put Simon Pegg as Scotty and John Cho as Sulu in that list too, except that they didn't really get enough screen time. And, of course, Zachary Quinto was perfectly cast as Spock, and not just because of his uncanny resemblance to Leonard Nimoy. It was cool seeing ol' Christopher Pike in the story, and he was excellently played by Bruce Greenwood. The visual effects were way cool, particularly the images of the Enterprise at warp speed ... almost this half-windblown/half-distortion sort of effect wrapping around the ship. I really liked the design of the bridge (I read a review that likened it to the interior of an Apple Store, and that brought a funny scenario to mind: maybe its change in appearance is the result of someone coming back in time and convincing Starfleet to switch from PCs to Macs!), but I'm not sure about the engine room -- it seemed a bit too much of a contrast, I thought. Oh, and did you catch the phasers? Did you notice how the barrel is double-ended and spins around when the weapon is being switched from "stun" to "kill"? I really tripped out on that! Oh, and the music was fantastic, I thought ... particularly how Michael Giacchino cleverly took his own theme (for the Enterprise, or Kirk, or the crew, or whatever it was indended to represent) and layered it underneath the classic Alexander Courage theme as the end credits rolled ... created a completely natural-sounding counterpoint ... genius!

Overall, I'm more than satisfied with this movie (unlike that Confused Matthew guy, who simply doesn't seem able to just sit back and enjoy a movie every once in awhile ... ironic that he summed up his review of this movie with 15 seconds of exasperated groans, as that's precisely how I felt after listening to his review). I was worried when I first heard that it would involve time-travel, which may very well be the most over-used plot device in Star Trek history ... but in a refreshing twist, nobody hit the "reset button". Some big changes have been made to Trek continuity in this alternate timeline, some of them unsettling, but it opens up a multitude of new storytelling possibilities as a result. Not only will I definitely be scooping up the DVD release of this movie as soon as it hits, but I've even got the itch to go see it again on the big screen...!

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