paperandglue: (trek // nostalgic dax)
[personal profile] paperandglue
I grew up on Star Trek; I was five when The Next Generation premiered, and my early memories of that show involve me being annoyed that my dad was watching it instead of playing with me on Friday nights (he had become a fan of The Original Series watching televised reruns of it in the '70s). However, by the time the early '90s rolled around, I enjoyed the show as much as he did, and while it took me awhile to warm up to Deep Space Nine, eventually it became my favourite Trek TV series of all. For most of the '90s, remember, there were two Trek series airing new episodes each week, and my family (Mom, Dad, little brother) would watch them every Saturday, often eating pizza for dinner in front of the TV. My dad and brother and I would line up to watch each new Trek movie in the theatres. So this is the kind of role Star Trek had in my childhood -- quite formative and associated with the warm security of my immediate family. INTENSE.

I didn't keep much of a close eye on the '09 Star Trek movie -- I mean, I saw a promo still here or there, I did download each new trailer. I could tell that Zachary Quinto was going to be perfect as Spock and that it was going to be a solid action flick, but after debacle that was the prequel TV series Enterprise, I was worried. Closer to the release date, I heard rumblings about some "alternate universe" stuff, and then I heard that the advance reviews were overwhelmingly positive.

Going the alternate universe route is a stroke of genius, frankly. Star Trek fans are very, very well acquainted with the idea of the multiple-universe theory and the idea that discrete choices can easily create infinite parallel realities. There have been many episodes based around this sci-fi concept, so it's something the fans can accept. From the moment the U.S.S. Kelvin, with the parents of the soon-to-be-born James Kirk on board, goes to check out the weird space lightning, the movie is taking place in an alternate universe from the one we've seen in the hundreds of hours of filmed Trek so far. Anything that happens after that does not have to line up with the established Star Trek canon as we know it. And that is perfectly fine with me, because we have already seen all the events that happened with Kirk on the Enterprise and Enterprise A. (Well, not all of them, but three seasons of television and six motion pictures worth, which is a lot.)

J.J. Abrams' idea for rebooting the franchise reminds me of something I read Ronald D. Moore say in in an interview awhile back. Ron Moore is the guy who came up with and ran the new Battlestar Galactica, and before that he worked on Star Trek (Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and briefly and catastrophically, Voyager) for basically the entirety of the '90s. He suggested that Star Trek suffered for getting too wrapped up in its own continuity. As a writer, he found it extremely stifling to have over 100 years of in-universe history to keep track of and honor when writing scripts. Now, you could and I do argue that the rich in-universe history is often an asset, but I get his point (and he's the highly experienced TV writer, not me, so his opinion kinda has more weight). Moore thought it would be better to have each new iteration of Star Trek "reboot" and ignore established continuity but still be Star Trek. And that is what Abrams has done, though with enough acknowledgement to canon to make sure the die-hard fans don't turn on him, violently.

All of this is to say that I whole-heartedly approve of the movie's time-travel and alternate-universe conceit; it respects what's gone before but allows the movie's creators a near-blank slate, storyline-wise.

My short review of the movie is that it is a really enjoyable action flick with an engaging cast that is fully accessible to people who are totally new to the Trek universe without alienating people who are longtime fans and rather attached to the universe's continuity.

Given that my Star Trek fandom is more centred around what I consider to be the pinnacle of televised Trek, Next Gen and DS9, I don't have as much of an emotional investment in Kirk & Co. (I like them, don't get me wrong, I just like Picard and Kira better). Therefore I'm not as sensitive to any perceived changes to the characters who have occupied the pop culture imagination for 40 effin' years. (Forty years!!! That is serious business.) I'm not going to get too upset that the new movie's Kirk was more obnoxious jackass than iconoclastic maverick.

I haven't yet delved in to the fan reaction to the onscreen Spock/Uhura romance, and I'm not sure I want to, because I loved it. That's all I have to say. <3<3<3

And now, some bullet points:

  • I will confess I found the movie's version of Starfleet's military protocol to be baffling and lacking. Kirk is on academic suspension, and then Old Spock gives him some tips and then... he's captain? Ooookay, then. Though actually now that I think of it, TOS was more ambiguous in its militarism/chain of command than later incarnations.

  • In terms of casting, I was very pleased with nearly all of it. Chris Pine is great as Kirk (even if the script makes Kirk out to be, as William Leisner said, more obnoxious than iconoclastic), Zachary Quinto was naturally perfect and amazingly seemed even MORE so when he and Leonard Nimoy were in a scene together. The kid playing Chekov was adorably perfect, and I have always liked Zoe Saldana and thought she was great, too. Same for John Cho. Weirdly, I'm a little on-the-fence about Simon Pegg as Scotty; he played it a little too broad for my taste. The only cast member I really didn't get was Karl Urban. I've liked him in other genre stuff (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Riddick) but I was not buying that accent. Ah, well. I know other people feel differently, so it's a matter of taste.

  • Camera flares. I know they're trendy right now and everything, but there were so damn many. I thought they might be unintentional, there were so many!

  • I loved Leonard Nimoy in this movie. It felt right having him there, which I wasn't sure it would. I loved his cool spinny ship and his being the latter-day Spock who's made peace with his human side and is a complex, dynamic person.
  • It's true that the bridge of the Enterprise looks like an Apple Store with the lights on at 200%.

  • [NERD ALERT]What was all that stuff about transwarp transport and Scotty being the one to engineer that? Wasn't a high-warp transport a thing they worked out on an episode of TNG? Or was that high-warp transport between two ships at warp? IDK.

  • I said that I was OK with restarting the mythology with the same characters but something of a blank slate, and I do look forward to future stories set in this universe with these characters, but I'm kinda bummed that they destroyed Vulcan. Vulcan!



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May 2009

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