Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This Film Will Live Long And Prosper

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have long been a Star Trek fan. I would not go so far as to label myself as a “trekkie” (what people on the outside call rabid fans) or “trekker” (what rabid fans call themselves when not in the company of bullies).

I have never dressed up as a Star Trek character and I thought the Star Trek movies were a lame attempt to breathe life into a by-gone franchise. Ricardo Montalban rocking the mullet and William Shatner yelling “KHAN!!!!!” was, for my money, the apex of the Trek movies. But then they just got silly and insipid, finally being put to rest with the abysmal Nemesis.

On television, Star Trek was reinvented and the franchise was reinvigorated with The Next Generation, with Captain Picard as Super Ego juxtaposing James T. Kirk’s Id.

Star Trek: Voyager even had a politically correct, and for some fans, the best commander on the con, in Captain Janeway.

But then there was a lull in the franchise; sure the conventions still happened and rumors of other movies and TV shows percolated on blogs and chat sites. But where to you take a franchise that has boldly gone where no sci-fi drama had gone before?

J.J. Abrams had a simple, yet profound idea. He believed Star Trek had to go back to go forward.

But what J.J. Abrams has done for the Star Trek mythology is just plain sick. And by sick, I mean awesome.

The new Star Trek movie hits theaters this weekend and if you’re a casual fan or have no clue what a Romulan is, you will not be disappointed with action sequences and special effects that are riveting but not the focus of the movie.

Speaking to the hard-core, convention-going, stalking William Shatner to ask him if Captain Kirk slept with that woman from Omicron Ceti III, you must let a little of the past go to be fully enveloped by this movie.

There are a few surprises that Abrams brings to the screen that may conflict with what hard-core fans hold sacrosanct to the mythology, but here’s some advice: if you are willing to suspend a little bit of belief, you will be rewarded in the long run.

The casting is superb. From Spock to Kirk to Chekhov to Scotty and especially Bones; everyone captures the essence of Gene Roddenberry’s characters without crossing the line and becoming caricatures.

Chris Pine, who plays the young James Tiberius Kirk, has the swagger and charisma but doesn’t get so caught up in trying to play William Shatner that it comes off as a commercial. We see James T. but cock-sure with everyone and still be a playa with the ladies. (And yes, just like the television series, there are woman of all different shades of the rainbow he gets to be “friendly” with).

If you’re a fan of Spock, you’ll be more than pleased. This movie isn’t just about James T. Kirk and how he managed to be the youngest Star Fleet captain in Federation history. Zachary Quinto does a brilliant job as a young Spock who constantly struggles between his Vulcan upbringing and the deep emotional connection to his human mother played by Winona Ryder. To put on Spock’s ears would be an intimidating role for any actor. Quinto brings a new, but fuller persona to this role that will please the most strident Nimoy fan.

I am usually not a far of “pre-quels,” but this one not only gets it right, it surpasses expectations as a story, and as an action movie. Simply, I want see more.

Space may be the final frontier, but J.J. Abrams has gone where no one has gone before, and I hope he goes back.

1 comment:

  1. I am about to pass waiting to see this movie tonight after work! I have been really leery about this film for the last couple years, because we hard core Trekkers I think are so fearful of revisionist history. The original series is iconic and treasured. But once I heard Leonard Nimoy was in it and the movie tied the original Spock in to the movie, I rested much easier. And the 3 people that I know have already seen it all loved it and they are all in different fandom levels.

    May Star Trek always live long and prosper!