Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek

This is gonna be rather spoilery, so be warned.

"Not your father's Star Trek" is a phrase that's being banded around about the franchise reboot from J.J. Abrams and it's an apt phrase in more than just the fresh faced cast and lens flare heavy lighting.

Let's start with the cast; Chris Pine is brilliant as Kirk, I agree with the general consensus, he should be BIG in the next few years, he can clearly balance the humour and action with a massive on screen charisma, strong possibility he's our next Harrison Ford (Sorry Nathan). Zachary Quinto steps in as younger Spock. I've followed Heroes since season 1 (glutton for punsihment?) and knew he'd be perfect as soon as it was announced, he doesn't disappoint. Karl Urban is also brilliant as Dr Leonard McCoy, while Pine goes to firmly stamp his own mark on the iconic James T. Kirk, Karl Urban happily homages-the-crap out of DeForest Kelley and with great effect. I'll be honest Zoe Saldana, John Cho & Anton Yelchin, as Uhura, Sulu & Chekov respectively, are pretty throwaway, ok Uhura's got some stuff going on with Spock and gives us our initial intro to an adult JTK, but overall, they just feel like they're being given their token screen time. That brings us to Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, who doesn't come in until some way through the film and doesn't really do anything except be Simon Pegg putting on an accent, he also gets some terrible "comedic" moments courtesy of his spiny sidekick thing.

Eric Bana chews his way through the film's resident villain, Nero, nothing special, but ok.

The casting refresh is one thing, the look and feel is another and this is where it shone for me, a tad too much lens flare maybe, but the look of the sets, the updated ship design and all the general space stuff was pretty damn cool, more energy, more intense, yet clearly updates on the previous versions as opposed to a total re-imagining. I'm not a Star Trek geek, I'll watch it, but I don't get all fanboy over it, I also preferred the movies (not mentioning TNG ones), but the updates hit the right notes with me.

What also makes this "not your father's Star Trek" is the plot. This is NOT a prequel, they even go to writing-hack level lengths to point this out in the exposition, this is an "alternate reality" [Uhura], so how the crew of the Enterprise comes to be in this film is not how it did for the series.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting all worked up over this, as I said, I'm not a Trekkie fanboy, but the film's pitched as an origin story, and while it IS, it's not quite the one I went in, and I expect many others were, expecting. That doesn't take anything away from it, just simply an observation... sorry, not an observation, there was a whole sequence devoted to making sure I damn well knew it.

Without going into the convoluted time travel plot, it basically sets up the new Enterprise crew with Old Spock lending a guiding hand along the way.

What stops this reboot from being amazing then? The comedy, that's what. Once you lose some of the language and maybe the brief "sex" scene, it's basically a kid's film, it's full of one liners, some good, plenty bad and stupid slapstick (see: Simon Pegg in coolant tubes) and set against the backdrop of what should be impending doom for all involved, it all feels like they're having a tad too much fun.

I'm not saying this needs to be all doom and gloom, the original movies all had humour, with The Voyage Home being the prime example of this, but that was in context, the humour in this one felt, for the most part, forced and unnecessary. Kirk's son get's marooned in ST2 and we get Kirk wigging out on a revenge trip, the whole of Vulcan gets wiped out in this one and we get Simon Pegg saying how exciting everything is. A bit of balance is what's needed.

So when it comes down to it, the re-boot shows a lot of potential on all fronts (less slapstick though please), there's already a sequel in the works, it looks like Kurtzman and Orci are lined up to write again, let's hope they move a little away from the Transformers style script and give it a little more meat! They came up with Fringe which I'm loving, so I hope they deliver the goods for Trek.

Star Trek - 7/10

1 comment:

/britmic said...

Lens flare? That's creative, right?