Sunday, May 17, 2009

Star Trek

I was a bit trepidatious about seeing the new Star Trek today. Not about whether or not J.J. Abrams and company would adhere to canon, but given its box office popularity I was afraid I'd be dealing with crowds.

Of course, even in desolate movie theaters I have the ability to attract unwelcome neighbors. You may recall my ongoing run-ins with a movie-going geezer who continually managed to plant his hunched-over carcass right in front of me on a number of occasions.

Of course this was at the Avco in Westwood, so I thought I'd be safe seeing Star Trek in Santa Monica. And I lucked out--the 10:50 am showing had maybe a dozen people in the audience. The lights went down and we were "treated" to a series of lame trailers for future action-adventure movies including Michael Bay's deafening addition to the Transformers franchise and the inexplicable G.I. Joe.

G.I. Joe? Really? Seriously folks, it's only a matter of time until we get movies featuring Cap'n Crunch and the Trix Rabbit.

So, as I'm settling into the movie, who should shuffle in ten minutes into the flick but the hunched-over geezer! I kid you not! And of course, he proceeds to plant himself in the seat directly in front of me!!!

Note to Geezer: STOP STALKING ME!!!

He shuffled out ten minutes later, but what the @#$%?!!!

Back to the movie review: You got to give J.J. and company credit for keeping the action going. Never a dull moment in the movie--although the non-stop action did get a bit tedious at times. I'm thinking maybe the writers took into account the fact that most movie-goers know these characters well enough to dispense with the character development. But I could have used the break.

As far as the characters go, everyone did a pretty good job of inhabiting the well-loved icons of TOS. Chris Pine channeled Kirk's swagger, Zachary Quinto mastered Spock's arched eyebrow (although rumor has it he had to have his fingers taped together to manage his salute) and the rest of the cast did a respectable job. My favorite was Simon Pegg who managed to not only inhabit Montgomery Scott, but make the character completely his own in a criminally brief amount of screen time.

On the other end of the spectrum was Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov. While it would have been hard for the young actor to duplicate Walter Koenig's dark attraction, the fact that Yelchin has as much charisma as a hyperactive cockapoo didn't help. And what were the hair stylists thinking with that frizzy perm? Yelchin's look as Charlie Bartlett was more similar to Chekov's than that!

Makeup can't be let off the hook either--Gaila the green Orion girl looked like Elphaba's understudy in Wicked than an alien life form. On the plus side was the casting of Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy. Who knew "Bones" was such a hottie?

The biggest "what the @#$%?" for me was the "have your cake and eat it, too" choice to ignore the established backstory (known to Trekkies or Trekkers or whatever they call themselves as "canon") and yet allegedly remain faithful to that backstory. And how can they do that you ask? Simple: time travel.

See, everything happened just the way the Trekkies established canon proscribes, but due to a blackhole (or wormhole), a vindictive renegade Romulean changed the past. I guess knowing J.J. Abrams love of time travel, this was to be an expected move. And while it allowed Leonard Nimoy to join the cast playing a near 200 year-old Spock (and looking every single day of it!), I'm not sure it really accomplished improving the story.

In fact, Abrams and the writers as much as concede that fact with a running joke about how taking certain shortcuts are the equivalent of cheating. To me, it was sort of like the Republicans rewriting history by pulling the "what did she know and when" routine on Nancy Pelosi as a smokescreen against their administration's complicity in using torture interrogation techniques.

This isn't to say that the reboot of the Star Trek franchise was torture--it was a mostly entertaining flick. But I can't see using time travel to avoid staying true to the characters' backstory necessarily as an improvement.


  1. I am pretty sure that hunched-over geezer is stalking you. No other explanation for it! That gave me a good laugh.

    I caught a (packed) showing last night at the Imax at The Bridge. It was thoroughly entertaining. I'd say they did a good job for people who have never watched an ounce of Star Trek, but the time travel/story change did seem like a bit of a cop out.

  2. I'm with Linz: he's definitely your stalker. So, it's material, lol: perhaps not a screenplay, but a scene or short story.

  3. It was entertaining. A bit TOO much action for my taste. I don't know what they were thinking with the whole time travel thing. It was kinda lame...