26 May 2009

Thoughts on Star Trek

So, as is usual for me, I'm not going to be providing you with a review, per se, of Star Trek. Instead, I have a few observations about the film. I'm not going to say that there aren't any spoilers here, but I'm trying to be fairly vague, and, frankly, most of the stuff I thought was interesting is actually about fairly minor details. If you are someone who enjoys something less if you have heard anything about it--then read at your own risk.

1. I am not a big Winona Rider fan. I think that Qwanty could probably attest to that. But I thought that she looked rather lovely in the film. I do think that the decision to cast a woman who looks like she could be a Vulcan herself as the full-human mother of a half Vulcan/half human child is strange. It would have been MORE interesting if they had chosen someone more like Jennifer Morrison (who, by the way, if I have not mentioned it before, is much less pretty as a blonde. Could someone get word to her about that? It makes her look older, and harder).

2. I was VERY skeptical about the casting of Simon Pegg as Scotty. And he doesn't look ANYTHING like he could grow into Jame Doohan. But when he started talking, I was TOTALLY amazed. Because he sounded, spot on, like Scotty. I thought he was brilliant.

3. What was with the obvious nods to Top Gun? I mean, I almost expected McCoy to start calling Kirk "Maverick" and for there to be some space-volleyball scene where the Enterprise Crew plays the Romulans, set to "Playing with the Boys." And if you haven't seen the film, and you are doubting me, then just wait for the scene where Kirk rides up to the transport vehicle on his motorcycle. Seriously, it is ripped directly from TG. (Not to mention the whole flight simulation scene--c'mon!)

4. Speaking of music, I am glad to hear that in the future, kids will still want to drive fast while cranking "Sabotage"--I have long been of the opinion that this is a song best listened to, really loud, in the car.

5. I don't get why, in space movies, the ships belonging to the "bad guys" always look like a crack den in space. Seriously. Am I really to believe that the Romulans are cruising around in space in a ship that has bad lighting, a sewer system running through it, and no discernible living or recreation quarters?

Evaluation: This was a much more entertaining film than I expected. I thought it was REALLY, REALLY funny and smart, and I was almost universally pleased with the casting and the acting. I am not a huge fan of the franchise, but I have seen all of the episodes of the original series, and probably most of the episodes of The Next Generation (Which was quite popular when I was in college). And we saw the films as kids. But I, admittedly, didn't walk into this film with any kind of expectations about the plot content. With all that said, I did have one critical question nagging me while I watched the film. (And I should add that previews for both the GI Joe film and Transformers II sort of put me in the frame of mind to think about this:)

Critical Question: As I was watching this film, I couldn't help but wonder what the deal is with origins films? Although the casting was REALLY good (in general) for this film, it does seem like a tremendous risk to go back in time with a narrative and have to cast the original characters with younger actors. There are so many ways that that can go badly. There are also ways in which it is very dangerous to have actors trying to recreate roles which are now culturally iconic. Why is there an impulse to go back in time, instead of going forward? As I hope I've intimated, this seems to have worked here, but I wonder why no one has learned the lesson from the second Star Wars trilogy? Are American audiences so lacking in imagination that we have to be fed the same story and group of characters over and over? Certainly this seems to be the attitude of Hollywood, who wants to give us origin films, remakes of television shows and films (Land of the F'ing Lost? Who thought THAT needed a film at this point in time?), and sequels.

I also saw the new Jarmusch film The Limits of Control this weekend. I want to write about that too, but I'm still gathering my thoughts. But here is a film that treats its viewers with a great deal of respect--that assumes that we can deal with silence, subtitles, complexity, ambiguity, new characters and situations, a slower pace. As much as I enjoyed the experience of seeing ST, it does make me a little sad to think about the new art and entertainment that isn't produced.


Marcus said...

The casting was brilliant, the pacing was as good as anything I've seen, and the plot was just thick enough to be interesting without getting in the way of the characters. The only thing that kept it from perfection were the gags straight out of Top Gun, Armageddon, and Starship Troopers. Although a "Playing with the Boys" montage would have been fantastic.

Jerry Bruckheimer tries to make this film every year, and fails.

jbro said...

It seems like filmmakers these days want to take something and make it their own, instead of just making something of their own in the first place. Yeah I thought this flick was great, in fact I don't have a single critique on the film itself, but do I really need to be super stoked about Star Trek? It can't be denied, cashing in on nostalgia is so hot right now. The only problem is that the bulk of people seeing these movies have no concept of the origin they are seeing.

Dude have you seen The Brothers Bloom yet?? I loved it.