June 6, 2009

My thoughts on J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.

Let me explain the delay in actually going to see this movie.  First of all, like I mentioned many times before, I was graduating from college.  Second, the Boyfriend decided that he wanted to wait and see it with me.  It was very sweet of him but I kept on hearing about the movie everywhere, and I've been avoiding websites like io9 for accidental spoilers (which were revealed more than once for me).  All my other friends had seen it and told me their opinions, but as much as I can trust my friends' opinions, I wanted to make my own.

I have mentioned in earlier posts that I am very protective about my Trek.  It's a family heirloom almost.  On my father's side we have war relics and fine china to pass down through the generations.  On my mother's side we have an appreciation for Star Trek.  Being part of a black family the U.S., you realize that you don't get a lot of heirlooms to pass down.  I'm taking wait I can get, and it is Trek.  I was hoping Abrams wouldn't "break" Trek so I cold possibly pass it down to my kids.

What are my thoughts?  Well first...


Now with that necessary warning out of the way we can continue, can't we?

Let me start out by saying that everything that I love about Star Trek was not destroyed by this movie.  Everything that I loved about Star Trek was still there, to varying degrees.  Now was this the most intellectual Star Trek movie?  No, it absolutely was not.  But with the fresh start that Abrams is trying to give the franchise, I can concede one movie taking a break from questions of philosophy to introduce a fantastic group of characters.  And that's what Abrams swapped out philosophy for: fantastic character building.

Let's be honest: although there was a good amount of character development throughout the entire series, the original series was not focused on the characters as much.  In the movies that followed there's actually more development, and if you're like me you'll take all this development except for the fifth movie.  Why not?  Because it's filth, that's why.  End of discussion.

Moving on, the character depth in this movie was INTENSE.  You couldn't help but to know these characters.  I definitely wept several times in this movie because my investment with these characters was so  intense.  I don't expect people new to the franchise to be as invested as I was, but considering that I have never felt that deeply attached to a movie before, I know it enticed new viewers in.  And although I knew these characters from before, it was great to see them younger, fresher, and less professional for a few scenes here and there.

The story line itself actually worked.  The only person who's timeline is completely screwed up from the get go is Kirk's.  His father is killed by the mysterious Romulan vessel (although meaning Balance of Terror could never work the way it did before, I'm sure those racial hostilities could be explored again if desired) screwing up the first 20-something years of Kirk's life.  Kirk, although still the same in many ways, it now a rebellious dick because of his father's death, not inspired by his father's accomplishments.  And Spock is still suffering from the ever-present identity crisis.  Though I have to say, when he essentially refuses to study on Vulcan because they insult his mother, I was excited.  The biracial characters in Star Trek always seemed to suffer from "Who am I" crises way too much, and for Spock to acknowledge who he was made me extremely happy.

From boarding the Enterprise on was a great ride.  There was action for those of us who appreciate explosion, theoretical time travel stuff that I'm sure people are still debating on forums, and great character moments.  Meeting a younger, more boorish Scotty was hilarious.  Uhura's sass was very present.  McCoy is still my favorite, just because I have a soft spot for cynical bastard.  It was a little weird to see him fumbling around when he injected that flu into Kirk, but then again he was just a cadet.  Sulu was awesome, and I'm glad they kept his love of fencing for that fight scene.  Chekov was hilarious!  "Oh oh! I can do this!" with the transporting scene helped cut through the buckets of tension getting poured on the audience.  Spock was still very much Spock, although he seemed too human at some points but ragging on that would make me nit-picky.  And Kirk was the 100% jerk that we always knew he was deep down inside.  The characters were consistent with the original series but at the same time accessible to an audience of this decade.

I keep on talking about the characters, but the flow of the story was great too.  You didn't get too comfortable in one feeling, you were waiting for the next surprise.  And for a movie like this, it's great storytelling.  A movie is not like a book or a tv series, you can't wait forever for stuff to happen.  And I never did.

I do have one complaint though.  The relationship between Uhura and Spock.  It's not that I think it shouldn't have happened.  No, I'm willing to concede that it could happen to some extent.  I felt that since it was so abruptly introduced, the relationship was there merely to justify all the screen time given to Uhura.  Which it shouldn't be there to do.  Uhura is awesome with or without a man.  She deserves screen time because she was a great snarky force initially opposed to Kirk's command style.  Putting her with Spock also seemed to force Spock to appear more human to the audience.  Why is that necessary?  The whole point is that Spock is an alien.  Even if he is human, he's still obviously different.  That's why Roddenberry added him to the crew of the original series.

Also, one other minor complaint.  Some of the new alien designs seemed too similar to me.  Let's give you a weird head with a dino-crest in the back and some weird coloring and big eyes, and you'll be an aliens.  I liked the old races they brought back, but they could've been a bit more creative with the ones they decided to introduce.  I did like the one that they had when Kirk was being born, where they only real difference was a bigger eyes in a weird skull.  

Costumes: great.  Set Design: beautiful and made more sense the the original designs from the 60s.  Music score: sounded great, but I would like to hear it again.  Make up: pretty darn good, but didn't blow my socks off.  Lighting: good, but I could've have less lense flare.  who do I blame for that?  Editing: pretty solid, but I am very intrigued to see the deleted scenes. Directing: It's Abrams, it can't be bad unless he lost his brain or something.  Acting: Exciting interpretations and of very high quality.  Obviously this was a well cast movie. 

All in all, I loved it.  Not your typical Star Trek movie, but definitely a good one.  If I had to give this a score, I'd give it a 4.75 out of 5.  It ain't perfect, but it definitely achieved some greatness!

And now to anticipate the next one! 

1 comment:

  1. Nice review and comments. I've enjoyed the movie twice already.

    I think Balance of Terror could still work though, but as one of the best TOS episodes I don't think it needs to be redone. The part of that plot that didn't hold up well was "no visual communications", and the story works just as well without that.