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.

Joe The Plumber: Genius, Or Super Genius?

You know the opponents of gay marriage are fighting for a lost cause when even a bigoted doofus like America's Favourite Plumber tells a Christian publication it's all right if some states legalize gay marriage (not that he'd let homos near his kids). Of course, the best thing about the story I'm linking to are the quotables, like this one for example: "Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a "honky" or something like that."

Full piece here. (AP/Columbus Dispatch)

UPDATE: Helpful Dog Blog reader Observer says I should've posted the link to Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher's actual interview in Christianity Today magazine. Sure, sounds good to me. Observer helpfully posted the link in the comments, but I'll put it right here where it's convenient.

Speaking of Bunnies....

Here's a picture I took of that previously-mentioned, not-afraid hare I saw munching up a storm yesterday. I was maybe five feet away and as you can see s/he wasn't showing me any of that fear bunnies are supposed to have of humans. Smug, cocky bastard.

For more on Wegina wabbits, check out Seema Goel's article in the new prairie dog.

New Dog!

(Cover photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography)

What is it with rabbits this year? There's always rabbits in this town, lots of rabbits, but so far this spring they've been extra-abundant and extra-bold. last week I saw one playing Frogger on Victoria Ave. And last night I walked by one grazing in someone's yard that let me get within five feet of it to take a pile of photos.

The bunnies have grown brave! Here's what you'll find in the new prairie dog:

VIDEO GAMES LIVE The nerds are everywhere and they've gotten into EVERYTHING! Even Regina's Symphony Orchestra! Apparently Victor Sawa, the RSO's conductor, has been a nerd all along--and not just any nerd, but a video game nerd (the most dangerous kind!). Sawa's the driving force behind the sinister plan to bring Video Games Live to Regina. The concert--conducted by video game composer Tommy Tallarico, will reduce our city's once-proud orchestra to lowly video games musicians, playing background music for such tawdry cultural detritus as Super Mario and Prince of Persia. Oh, the horror. Oh, the humanity. Oh, it's on Monday and looks like a lot of fun, judging from Paul Dechene's cover story. By the way, the cover model is Beth Curry, upright bass player with the RSO. I think she might be a nerd, TOO. Eeek!

LIBRARY LAUNCH A few months back the RPL called for developers and architects for the planned redevelopment of the downtown library. Now they've picked their dance partners and the project moves to the public consultation phase. Gregory "Greg" Beatty reports.

TRAILER TRASH 2 Prairie dog's annual summer movie preview is back with reviews of the biggest, boldest and baddest trailers for films of the aught-nine season (except for Terminator: Salvation because a naughty writer--ANG!!!!!!!--missed his deadline). See Stephen LaRose trash the excellent Star Trek trailers because, I don't know, he's crazy! Read Jorge Castillo's comments on the nasty, nasty, nasty yet funny trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds! It'll be good! Really! Check! It! Out!

PLUS! The Sask. Party kills Sask's greenhouse gas targets! Saskatchewan's Green Party gets a new leader! John F. Conway (the "F" stands for Fantastic) discusses the new capitalist crisis! Gregory "Greg" Beatty talks to Saskatchewan author Nicholas Ruddick about his new book The Fire In The Stone about the--how do I write this in A! Punchy! Way?--cultural significance of the "cave-man" to literature, film and other art, and what the different iterations of the caveman (including cavewoman, of course--prehistoric parlance is sexist!) in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Quest for Fire, books like Clan Of The Cave Bear and TV shows like The Flintstones! And Seema Goel talks about bunnies! Cute, baby bunnies that you SHOULD NOT TAKE HOME TO BE PETS! And, as always, more!

The new prairie dog is out today! Look for it at 400 locations city-wide.

Trek Of The Day: Hot Vulcan Sex Edition

Tonight the newest Star Trek movie opens in Regina. It's a semi-reboot of classic Star Trek featuring the series' iconic original characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov, all played by new actors (spoiler--and one original actor).

While there's some surly, nitpicky and frankly wrongheaded opinions permeating my personal cabal of nerds, consesus seems to be it's a really good movie. Reviewers say it's fun for people who don't give a rat's ass about Star Trek but is also a good time for the hardcore Trekkies (or "Trekkers" if one has ridiculous delusions of respectability, which I do not).

As of this writing it's pulled in a 94 per cent "fresh" rating on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes (67 reviews, 63 of them positive). And it's scoring a 94 on Metacritic, which is pretty impressive because Metacritic's ratings are based on a composite 1-10 score. (For instance, a mildly decent movie could concievably score 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, because the RT score is either "good" or "bad"--no shades of grey. On Metacritic it'd score a mildly positive 6.5/10 or so.)

On both sites, those ratings makes it the best reviewed movie of the year so far...which not only shows how much fun it will be but also indicates how lame movies generally are these days.

Anyway, in celebration of tonight's warp-factor eight nerdapalooza here's a short film ripped from teh internets. It's an unbelievably accomplished amateur music video by T. Jonesy and Killa, whoever they are, for Nine Inch Nail's very, very, rude song, "Closer". It depicts the brutal unleashing of a hallucinating Spock's repressed sexual fantasies using doctored and sneakily-edited footage from the original series.

WARNING: NIN's song is probably NSFW (not safe for work), depending on your job (it's safe for MY work, but my job is weird). And the video has sexual content (though no nudity).

Tip of the hat to Peakay for first showing me this thing years ago.