Screen view: Star Trek

Year of release: 2009

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy

Director: J.J. Abrams

Viewing: Majestic Theater, Williston

 

Three Reasons to Watch:

  1. You always wanted to see Kirk cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test.
  2. You couldn’t get enough of Lt. Uhura’s mini skirt.
  3. You want to have at least one good time in the theater this summer.

Three Reasons to Avoid:

  1. You have a low tolerance for cheesy Russian accents
  2. One Spock at a time, please.
  3. You’ve just started War and Peace and have to have it finished in time for classes to start in September.

 

I took the day off from work today, because I had a medical appointment in Burlington this morning and I decided to make a day of it. Turns out the new Star Trek movie was premiering, so I made that part of the trip. I attended the first matinee in Williston, at the theater with the stadium seating. There was a pretty good sized crowd for a weekday afternoon prior to the end of school. Mostly middle-aged men like me. Hmmm.

Anyway, the movie. It was terrific. I’d heard some mixed reviews, so wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a great summer time entertainment, with action, humor and the good feeling of watching old friends. Well, old friends who are young again. The filmmaker, J.J. Abrans, is a big Star Trek fan, and that affection comes through. We get a film that honors the 1960s TV show, but is not restricted by the Federation universe created in that show. The trick? Romulans who travel through time and change the course of history. I won’t say how… but some of the changes are pretty big. The result allows the storytellers room to update the characters (but not Lt. Uhuru’s mini skirt, thank goodness), and gives them latitude to have the crew boldly go where no Kirk has gone before.

The actors all do good work. Chris Pine sometimes makes us think he actually is William Shatner. Karl Urban could be DeForest Kelley’s son. Simon Pegg doesn’t look a thing like James Doohan, but he’s got the accent and a gonzo attitude. Zoe Saldana isn’t as shapely as Nichelle Nichols, but is just as sexy. The one exception is Zachary Quinto as Spock. There is nothing wrong with his acting, but he has awfully big ears to fill, and it perhaps doesn’t help that the man he is replacing is actually in the movie. Leonard Nimoy has hard-edged features and a fantastic voice. When his Spock talked, even with his Vulcan monotone, people listened. Quinto, on the other hand, is rounded edges and has a much softer voice. Consequently, he just doesn’t have the screen authority Nimoy had (and still has). Nevertheless, he gives us his own interpretation of Spock, which may not be quite what we’d hoped for, but works. Most importantly, he and Pine have a good screen chemistry.

I just have two complaints about this film. First is the scene early on when a young Kirk (maybe 11 years old) is seen speeding down a lonely road in Iowa in an antique sports car he has stolen from the family he is living with. There is no reason for this scene, other than to be used as a marketing tool to lure younger viewers. My second complaint is with the accent used by the actor playing Checkov… it may be the most annoying Russian accent this side of Boris and Natasha!

The bottom line is that we get what all “remakes” and “TV Show to Film” efforts should be… equal doses of nostalgia and something new and fresh. I am looking forward to the next installment.

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