Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

To Boldly Go (Where A 1960s TV Show Has Gone Before)

Star Trek, J.J. Abrams style.

Star Trek, J.J. Abrams style.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Wait, wrong franchise. Ahem.

Space – the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise…

Much better. Anyway, like half the geeks in the world, I recently watched the new Star Trek movie, and I felt like reviewing it. But first, an anecdote!

I went to one of the many, many stores in Kunming that sell DVDs of questionable origin with one goal in mind- getting the new Star Trek movie. When I got there, I found not one, but TWO versions of the movie. Perplexed, I asked the clerk if they were the same, just in case. He said that they weren’t the same, so I asked what the difference was. His reply? One was five yuan, the other was ten. *Fail*

I’m not going to ruin the movie for you unwashed masses that haven’t seen it yet by discussing any of the plot points, so this will be a fairly short review. Instead, I’d just like to point out what was so awesome about this movie:

1. Hot Fuzz… In Space

I don’t care who your favorite character was from the original series, Simon Pegg stole the show this time around. He didn’t have a ton of screen time, but this performance was one of the best I’ve seen out of him, and he managed to do so while getting Scottie’s character right.

2. Twice as Nice

Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy? Yes, please. Two Spocks isn’t a bad thing, and the difference in character between young Spock and old Spock was… enlightening.

3. “Vee are approaching the planet Wulcan.”

Anton Yelchin, the guy who played Chekov? He was fantastic. Yelchin took an incredibly flat character from TOS and managed to make him hilarious. Props on developing that borderline unintelligible accent, without which Chekov would have been entirely forgettable.

USS Enterprise

USS Enterprise. This image copyright Paramount Pictures, blah blah blah, legal mumbo jumbo.

4. From Whence He Came

The character of Captain James T. Kirk was always supposed to be headstrong, rebellious, rash, hot-headed, etc., often to a fault. As much as I love Shatner, his interpretation always felt corny. Actor Chris Pine took his role as a younger Kirk and ran with it, delivering a performance that not only felt authentic, but was a great explanation of how and why Kirk became the man that he did.

5. Romulan Baddies

Captain Nero was played by Eric Bana. He was cool, and dark, and evil, with a performance ranging from unpredictable fits of rage to mourning his lost wife. With the exception of Khan, most villains in the Star Trek franchise haven’t been all that great. Bana was convincing as a tortured individual obsessed with revenge.

6. Sparkly Stuff

Some people felt the visuals were a little overdone, but I think it worked well. Everything was clean, new, and evocative of the the feeling that TOS conveyed. It managed to both reinvent the 1960s set and feel like a throwback, which was cool. Props, J.J. Abrams.

7. Piles of Easter Eggs

From a Slusho to tribbles, the new film references a bevy of different sci-fi and pop culture gems. Paramount is even hosting a contest to see who can spot the exact point where R2-D2 appears, with the prize being a prop from the set. Cool? Yes, very.

THIS is the trouble with tribbles.

THIS is the trouble with tribbles.

8. Self-referential Humor

Most of the jokes in Star Trek centered on poking fun at the characters from TOS and some of the absurdities involved in those episodes. Seductive green women? Check. Over-the-top performances? Check. Awesomely bad lighting and sound effects? Check. Absolute disregard for little nuisances like the Prime Directive, official canon, time travel theories, established levels of technology, and the stun setting on phasers? Check check check check check.

There you have it, kids. Eight chunks of awesome, five of which are people. Abrams’ Star Trek wasn’t ground-breaking, it wasn’t contemplative or thought-provoking, but holy crap was it fun.

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May 23, 2009 - Posted by | Movie Review, review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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