Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek, The Verdict

First, a Note: Mom, I went to see it last night. I was seeking 2 hours of joy in the darkness, as you well know my state of mind this week. Good news, though: I want to see it again. And again. And AGAIN. And I will definitely wait to see the Terminator movie with you, ok?

Second, some context. I'm not a big Star Trek fan. I was a Star Trek, Next Generation fan. No Deep Space Nine, no Enterprise: Just STNG. More importantly, I was NOT a fan of the original show. I liked two of the movies (Wrath of Khan - duh, and the funny one with the whales - duh), but I generally didn't dig the Star Trek Universe at least until STNG.

I found the original show to be hideous on two very specific levels: I HATED the go-go 60s aesthetic with the cheap poly uniforms and the cheap green girls...and I HATED HATED HATED Captain Kirk. My mom, a big fan, loved watching the reruns. As a child, there was something particularly offensive about Kirk to me...I didn't like his sexuality, his sassy, hip-swingy demeanor, or any of his swashbuckling ways. It seemed both skeevy and synthetic; neither of which would ever endear me to him or his character. Plus, there was something deeply greasy about the man...both inside and out.

Clearly, I was more of a Spock girl. Throughout all of it, I always loved Spock and Bones (Dammit, Man!), first because they were usually at odds with Kirk and his devil-may-care leadership, but also because there was something safe and comforting in both personalities. Counter-Kirks, if you will. Bones had that fabulous curmudgeony incredulousness that reminded me of all of the best, cane-brandishing old coots. I suppose if I was ever a character on the Enterprise, I would likely be Bones...minus the medical genius. And Spock? I think Spock speaks to everyone, doesn't he? His singular nature, being half Vulcan, half human, was the perfect symbol of our own struggles with the howling animal Id within us all. You always knew that Spock was feeling it, even when he was at his most zipped up and locked down, but it was the control that we admired. In a way, I always felt his struggle most keenly, because I am not one you would describe as "in control of my emotions." Shocking. I know.

The Kirk/Spock relationship was always one of the Id versus the Super Ego. But for me, it was always more than that. Kirk's only true redemption to me was Spock's obvious and unbreakable love and friendship for him. It enriched both characters, making one more human and the other less smarmy.

The rest of the original characters? Mostly a big MEH and YAWN to me. I liked "the Russian" because he was Russian and, being a child, it comforted me to know that someone else was thinking what I was thinking (Why Can't We Be Friends? specifically). I found Scotty annoying. Sorry. I did. Sulu? Meh. Uhura? Don't get me started. I think the sublime Galaxy Quest pretty much nails that one for me: She was the communications officer...she communicated. And had a cool earpiece. And jugs. Again, meh.

Overall, the original Star Trek--I am talking about the show mostly--was just not my thing. Whenever the age-old question reared its uglyass head --"Who's the better Captain? Kirk or Picard?"--you never had to guess my answer. I suppose in many ways this makes me a "less than true" fan. After all, how can you claim to love any of it if you do not love the originator, the dominator, and the beginning and the end of that fine universe?


There's always a reboot. An update. A reconceptualization, if you please. And that, my friends, is something I was definitely willing to get behind.

The verdict is obvious: AWESOME. Fantastic. Warmed the cockles of my nerd heart. Made me feel joyous. Made me do happy feet in my seat.

J.J. Abrams clearly wanted to retain the essential Star Trek. Characters are updated, but not changed -- I think that's probably what a lot of the purists are worried about. Don't worry. Kirk is still a lech, but in the undeniably fine new Chris Pine, it is, as my favorite pervy Texan would put it, alright, alright, alright. He's still weirdly greasy, though. In the literal sense. Then again, he was constantly running, jumping, falling, and swashbuckling, so I guess anyone would perspire...a lot.

Spock is most definitely still Spockity...and likely the character that needed the least updating. Knowing that Zachary Quinto was signed on to play him pretty much locked it up for me. I love Sylar, I love Quinto, and he did not disappoint. Bones is basically the took me a minute to figure out who he was but once I did it kind of weirded me out. You'll see. But in my opinion, the best "fleshing out" of any of the characters was Uhura. THANK GOD. She's no Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, but she is definitely no longer Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest. And she had a kicky Beyonce "Single Ladies" ponytail, to boot.

Just having Simon Pegg as Scotty guaranteed that I was going to dig the character 1000% more, and I did. The White Castle dude has gotten marginally better at acting, too, so his Sulu was serviceable. The only one I hope gets lost in the transporter stream is The Russian (ugh, Chekhov)...I was down with him coming back and all...but that kid (who is also inexplicably in the upcoming Terminator movie WHY) is just YUCK. I hate his Les Miserables face. He had some funny moments, but that was the script, and he was lucky to be gifted such a role. Major yuck vom.

The movie? Without spoiling anything, I will describe it as ACTION, ACTION, and then SOME ACTION. Clearly a movie made special order for me. YAY! Eric Bana was A-OK as the naughty Nero -- I've never really had much of an opinion of him as an actor (or sex symbol), except for that sex scene in Munich which was definitely A-OK, but he was more than up to the task of playing the Romulan steeped in simmering rage.

There are a few moments that I will leave for you to judge on your own. There was a moment of recognition that sparked a woo-hoo, clap-clap in the audience that I found eye-rollingly unnecessary, and there were also a couple of appearances that I found more distracting than nifty, as they were probably intended -- that includes types of characters, too, not just the stars (or non-stars) inhabiting them. And, inevitably, there were weak moments. However, I cannot stress this enough: Highly Recommended. This is a movie that you will enjoy whether you know Star Trek or not. Trek fans will have plenty of happy little moments when old-school touchstones pop up, but the real charge is the fact that the story, action, development, and ACTIONACTIONACTION freight train forward at an exhilarating and satisfying pace. It is one of those movie experiences where I'm left thinking about it afterward...immediately after, on the train, getting ready for bed, when I woke up this morning, when I made the coffee, and when I was doing laundry just a few minutes ago. Good stuff. Go now.

And live long and prosper, y'all.


Blogger Flushy McBucketpants said...

apparently not only is zachary quinto hulcan, he's also half druish... i mean, jewish. and i haven't seen it yet, but it really seems like possibly the best casting choice possible.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Shiny said...

Um yeah. He's a dish. And also a perfect Spock. See it soon before the spoilers catch up with you.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carmody has been raving about it and he's already seen it twice. Can I go with you and Ma?

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can go with us only if you promise to be quiet! We go to watch the movie, not the noisy people in the theater of which you are one Love. Sorry no kiddies either. You and Sage together are too much. Grumpy Mom has spoken.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Shiny said...

Mean Aunty seconds that emotion. We can't have another Spiderman 3. And I despised that movie. For the fanstastic Star talking allowed! And no Warren downtown, either. Getting dinner or dessert served to you whilst viewing a movie is an interesting idea but, for people like me, ultimately far more irritating and disruptive in reality.

7:34 PM  

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