May 10, 2009

Star Trek

An excellent general-interest reboot of the dormant Star Trek franchise. A thrilling, emotional, funny, and fast-paced ride, this Star Trek "origin" story remains faithful to the characters we love, while acknowledging the pre-TV show history which had already been told, in dribs and drabs, over the last 40-plus years.
NERD ALERT: Director/Producer JJ Abrams, with screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, have deliberately altered the history of the Star Trek "universe" within the first five minutes, which frees them from the shackles of 40 years of tangled and patchwork "history" of the Federation. Who honestly cares if 2009 Kirk contradicts something 1966 Kirk said in passing once? Blind fidelity like that only satisfies the most obsessive-compulsive of fans.
I'm conflicted over the general tone of the movie. The 1960s TV show was about a UN-style exploration vessel, which occasionally got into scrapes with strange alien worlds. The plot of this 2009 movie is similar to 1982's Wrath of Khan: a ruthless alien warrior takes vengeance on the Federation, and lots of spaceships go BOOM in the process. It's fair to acknowledge that the writers and director needed to make an effort to draw in a general audience to the theater, and the space battles are exciting. Besides, I am certain that the 1966 TV show would have had scenes like this if it were possible in their day.
The pacing was airtight and relentless- no third-act lag here! My only major complaint was a completely unnecessary interlude where Kirk escapes from some snow monsters. Besides the biological unlikelihood of giant monsters in an arctic wilderness, the creatures seemed out of character for Star Trek. I am not saying that they would never would have had giant monsters on Star Trek in 1966 if the technology allowed it, but it seems unlikely.
The casting of the original crew is uniformly excellent, and their performances are all spot-on. The only character which is slightly off-center is Simon Pegg's Scotty, who behaves exactly as Scotty should, but he's used exclusively as comic relief, including goofing around with a tiny alien sidekick.
Origin movies carry a heavy burden- introducing a dozen new characters and a whole fictional universe is hard work (see the first Harry Potter movie if you don't believe me) but Star Trek 2009 does it with grace, personality, faithfulness, and in an efficient and non-bloated 126 minutes. I give this movie an "A", and now that we've been reintroduced, the next adventure should be even better.
(AMC Boston Common, screen 2, with Emily, Jon & Bobbi, Amy & Adam, Ilan, Brian, Jess G, Marc, Jeff S, and friend; AND again on May 23 at the Somerville Theater with Emily)
Also on Stub Hubby
To Boldly Go To The Theater To See Star Trek ...Twelve Movies and Counting (1979-Present)
Two Star Trek movies, two gratuitous bra-and-panty scenes?