Answering my own questions since 2001

Those Aren’t the Vulcans You’re Looking For

I’m not a Trekkie, nor a Trekker. I’m not even a Star Trek enthusiast. I’ve seen most of the movies and some of the original series. I inconsistently watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” through my adolescence, but then theatre school proved more than enough distraction. That said, whether dystopian or utopian, I’m always willing to give a science-fiction movie a try (for example, I look forward to Moon–autoplaying trailer ahead).

I was optimistic, this weekend, when I went to the new Star Trek movie. It’s creatively called “Star Trek”. I was encouraged by the director J. J. Abrams’s pedigree, and the raucous energy of the trailer. I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s an entertaning, rompin’ space opera. The first ten minutes are–as they must be in any good action movie–superb, full of the riotous energy that was so often missing from previous, more staid Star Trek movie. Abrams has assembled an excellent yet, by big budget movie standards, unknown cast. They look just enough like the original Star Trek actors to be convincing, yet they’re different enough for us not to be constantly reminded of the elder actors’ portrayals. The movie generally does a great job of recognizing its place in the Star Trek canon without getting bogged down in silly cameos or stunts to win the sympathy of hardcore fans (much to their dismay).

With a swashbuckling style (there’s actually a bit of swordplay in one scene) and unfamiliar cast, this “Star Trek” reminded me a lot of the first (by which I mean the 1977 movie) “Star Wars”. As it happens, several of the creative leaders on the “Star Trek” movie cite “Star Wars” as a major influence, including writer Roberto Orci. I was listening to the always-enjoyable Slate Spoiler Special podcast about “Star Trek”, and reviewer Dan Kois compared the film to Joss Whedon’s “Serenity”. I agree, I guess, though I thought “Serenity” itself owed a lot to “Star Wars”.

After seeing the dismal, rote “Wolverine”, “Star Trek” was the blockbuster breath of fresh air I was hoping it would be. You’d have to be a serious Debbie Downer not to enjoy it.

Derek points out that, like the Daniel Craig Bond movies, this film has redeemed the prequel.

UPDATE: I happened upon this video, which highlights the similarities between Star Wars and the new Star Trek movie. I blame Joseph Conrad:

5 Responses to “Those Aren’t the Vulcans You’re Looking For”

  1. Derek K. Miller

    I was a bit more specific: for me “Star Trek” is like “Casino Royale,” not just a prequel or reboot, but an energizing, slap-in-the-face flush-out of the baggage of the previous movies — a reminder of why people loved the series in the first place. And it works beyond that. My 11-year-old daughter, who as I noted didn’t know a thing about “Star Trek” before, told me today that she wanted to see it again — and again after that!

    While I watched “Alias” a bit, I’ve never watched “Lost” or “Buffy,” or any of the “Serenity”/”Firefly” stuff. I watched a ton of “Star Trek” as a kid, adolescent, and college student, but I didn’t see any of the last few movies. I’m not an Abrams buff, but I am very impressed with what he accomplished with “Star Trek.”

    The power of “Casino Royale” (and the genius casting of Daniel Craig) was so vital that I gave the muddled “Quantum of Solace” a pass just because it was coasting on its predecessor. Similarly, the next “Trek” will get the benefit of the doubt from me and many others, even if it isn’t all that great — though I hope the next one meets this one’s standard. The current film has bought tremendous goodwill, enough to carry the brand for a few years.

    To make another analogy, these excellent reboots are like the Barack Obama of movies.

    darren Reply:

    I’d recommend giving “Serenity” a try. It’s, uh, jolly good fun, and doesn’t require that you watch the TV show.

  2. Norlinda

    I thought Serenity was a stronger movie than Star Trek, only because in Star Trek you were pretty sure everyone was going to survive to make it to the next sequel.

  3. VancityAllie

    I totally agree. I’ve never been a huge Star Trek fan, but this retelling is enough to get me into it if they are planning on continuing with this story and characters.

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