Friday, May 8, 2009

Shawna's Summer Movie Review- Star Trek

Okay, first of all let me get the negatives out of the way....we were in the second freaking row. Yeah, second row...the section where you have to tilt your head back and instead of moving your eyes to follow the action you have to move your whole head and you just know you aren't seeing it all.

Think of it as the IMAX experience without the IMAX price.

The only problem with that is extreme close-ups appear out of focus and I also found myself getting carsick with all of the action shots.

But who cares about that because this movie was AMAZING!

Honestly, the only bad things I really have to say is I thought Winona Ryder as Spock's mom was poor casting. It was pretty obvious that the aging make-up they put on her was fake and Ryder played the same flat, boring, no personality character that she has always played. Luckily she's barely in the film so it wasn't too bad of a distraction. Also disappointing is Eric Bana as our bad guy....but then I have yet to see Bana in a film where I liked him (sorry, but its true). He never really manages to make me believe in the characters he's portraying...but then Romulans are pretty much emotionally dead on the surface anyway so in this case it suffices.

For those who aren't familiar with Star Trek its no big deal because this is the story from the beginning....literally. We see Kirk's birth and Spock as a little pipsqueak being bullied on Vulcan for being half-human. I loved the nice cameo of Jennifer Morrison as Kirk's mom (for fans of "House M.D." she is Dr Allison Cameron).
Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi in "Next Generation", Ms. Gene Roddenberry in real life and the voice of the computer in every ST series and film) recorded her voice once again for the computer on this series before she passed away which was an especially sweet touch.

The movie opens with a bang (literally) and pretty much doesn't let you go. We are offered a storyline that is confusing at first, but then slowly unfolds to bring you up to speed along with our heroes. An old cast member returns...nicely I thought though the build-up to their introduction on-screen was a bit over-the-top....but then again, this is Star Trek....everything is a bit over-the-top with this series. A plot mix I was secretly betting myself on actually happened as two characters hook up in an interesting twist....but I won't spoil the surprise with who they are. The effects are amazing and the movie moves along at a pretty nice pace and there is a surprising amount of fun moments even with the universe crashing around them. The audience and I were all screaming and clapping by the end (most of us anyway). And yes, those of us who came in street clothes rather than dressing up as Klingon's or Starfleet personnel were cheering too.


The new cast is pretty dang good....Simon Pegg ("Shawn of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz") as Scotty is a scream, though he doesn't appear until nearly halfway through the film. Trust me, he's definately worth the wait. Newcomer Anton Yelchin (yes he's really Russian) as Chekov is endearing and funny...and the extra thick accent he adopts as an homage to Walter Koenig was hysterical. Sulu (John Cho from the Harold and Kumar films) has a few entertaining moments and Zachary Quinto (Sylar from "Heroes") makes for a great Spock. I worried I wouldn't get past seeing him as Sylar but he's definately not a one-dimensional actor. He managed to show Spock as wanting to be Vulcan and yet still showed us his "weaker" human side.

Zoe Saldana ("Drumline", "POTC") as Uhura really brought the character to life, showing that girls can pretty much kick ass as well as the boys. Surprising cast of Chris Pine as Kirk. For a guy who's biggest roles to date were pretty much in "Princess Diaries 2" and "Just My Luck" you'd think he'd be consigned to the pretty boy/made for tweens stuff, no matter how charmingly good he was in those films. While he wasn't channeling some "inner Shatner" (frankly no one does over the top better than Bill Shatner) he managed to get you to like the character even though he starts out as a bit of a bum with a chip on his shoulder. You find yourself rooting for Pine and wanting him to succeed. I read he's being offered the lead as The Green Lantern in an upcoming film and, judging by this performance, he'll be very good at it.

And last (but certainly not least) my favorite in the Star Trek pantheon. DeForest Kelley as Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy was dry and witty....endearing and yet still able to give out crap one liners "Damn it Jim I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!" with conviction. Karl Urban ("Lord of the Rings", "Bourne Supremacy") plays the character to perfection. Not much backstory here but we learn how he got "Bones" as his nickname (I always thought it was because he was a doctor but nope...something else entirely different). Karl Urban has a great sense of comedic timing while still keeping in character. But then anyone who has seen him spend a few episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess" dressed up as the minor god Cupid already knew that. Urban has you cheering and/or laughing pretty much everytime he comes up on screen. Thanks to Urban I can continue to love "Bones" just as he is...and he has certainly left me wishing and hoping for more Star Trek films to come.

For the non-Trekkies reading should still go see it. Its filled with humor, action and some pretty fantastic special effects. If you are a bit of a fan you will not be disappointed in the new take on an old universe. For die-hard fans who know every character's geneology and who still playact on cardboard sets in their probably won't like the changes and tweaks director JJ Abrams ("Lost", "Mission: Impossible 3") has brought to the table. Yes, things have been changed in spots to fit the story, but its explained at the end how they are able to "cheat" like this. It works so get over it.

Personally, I fit somewhere inbetween. I love the original series the best but have enjoyed the "Next Generation" and "Voyager" incarnations as well (I never did get around to watching "Deep Space 9" or "Enterprise"). I have never attended a Star Trek convention or even considered whipping up a yeoman's costume (I don't have the legs to pull off the miniskirt anyway!) I just enjoy the universe Roddenberry created and I love a good sci-fi when its presented to me.

I think Gene would have liked this one.

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