The Trouble With Quibbles

I have seen Star Trek, and...it is basically good.

What, you want more? Fine, greedy.

Dechene, Rosie and I drove a few miles out of Regina tonight to take in Star Trek at the Galaxy Cinema, a multiplex in a bedroom comunity neighbouring the city. We caught the movie in a stunningly under-filled theatre #1. I guess people were thinking it opens tomorrow...or, maybe they just don't think a Star Trek movie has a chance at being entertaining.

It is. Very entertaining. I'll give it a 3.5/5 dogs, and I'm a picky bastard with popcorn movies. It's comperable in quality, if not style, to The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2, and it's better than Iron Man. I will be stunned if this doesn't make a pile of money. If it doesn't, movie audiences are either a lot better than I think they are or much, much worse.

Here's a minimal spoiler summary of the story: due to an undercooked but politic plot contrivence, several things happen that result in the creation of a parallel timeline to the original series. Kirk gets a new origin story and as the movie unfolds major events happen that reshape the Star Trek universe to something with more explosions and a much better budget. And mostly it all ends happily ever after (except for that one thing).

It's actually a pretty clever workaround that skillfully avoids raping 40-plus years of Trek canon and the fond childhood memories of thousands of psychotic fans.

But it's a weird movie for a diehard old Trek dog like me. The new Trek improves on the original with consistently better acting or, failing that, suitably entertaining caricature. Pine's great, Quinto's good and Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy is fantastic. But Star Trek had 78 episodes, plus (I think) 22 animated cartoons and six movies to develop a coherent universe and characters--and that's without trotting out the hundreds and hundreds of episodes of the spin-off series. This movie has two hours. As you'd expect when there's a lot of obligatory material to be crammed in, a lot of things happen that don't make any sense whatsoever. Like, how Scotty gets on board the Enterprise (seriously, why do we need all the major characters? Scotty and Checkov in particular could've been left for the sequel. Batman doesn't always need Robin, let alone Batgirl).

It's just a lot of stuff to force-feed an audience and other aspects of the film (not to mention the integrity of this universe) predictably suffer from the desperate contortions the junky story bends itself into to get everyone in their chairs with their catch phrases armed and ready. Sure, the premise is good but the plot is utter, unbelievable crap--by far the dumbest Trek movie plot to date (except maybe for that one film William Shatner wrote). You think Regina is small? This Star Trek universe is apparently so tiny you'll bump into familiar faces on the first random asteroid you crash on. Travel through time and you'll end up within a couple kilometres of a spaceship carrying Kirk's dad. Convenient! A better movie would've had more set-up, less coincidence and probably would've saved a lot of the introductions for another movie.

And another hour of run-time would've been nice. Seeing Star Trek is too much like watching an extended trailer: all the money shots, no nuance.

Also, I don't think they're giving Uhura enough food. I don't remember her being so skinny.

But at least the time flies by and, if we get lucky, this film could inspire a better sequel now that it's got its franchise "chores" out of the way. I'd like to see a little commitment to science fiction next time, too. SF has been a keystone of Star Trek since the beginning but there's flat-out none of it in this movie (for instance, one character sees something happen with the naked eye that as far as I can tell occurs dozens if not hundreds of light years away).

It'd also be nice to let the actors age a bit too--McCoy and Captain Pike are the only bona-fide grown-ups on the Enterprise this time around.

But it's a fun enough movie overall, so fun it ought to be impervious to critics. And it's nice to have a reasonable facsimile of Star Trek back. Probably worth your time and money.

1 comment:

Saskboy said...

For some other reviews I of course recommend my own.
And Tanya's.