Monday, May 11, 2009
Saw Star Trek twice this weekend. Loved it. As an old school trekkie, when this movie was announced in 2006, I was fully prepared not to like a reboot of the franchise. Then, I heard Leonard Nimoy was going to be involved. Knowing he'd retired from acting (he reportedly hates the early wake-up time required in film acting), I felt confident he would only be willing to don the ears again if the script was up to snuff.
By using the alternate reality plot device, the screenwriters were able to skirt the whole canon issue. Frankly, I think the canon thing is bullshit anyway. If you read Sherlock Holmes, there are loads of inconsistencies from novel to novel. When it comes to Star Trek, 20 fans will have 20 different perspectives about what is and is not canon. Paramount's policy is that the TV shows (with the exception of the Animated Series) and films are canon, as are a small selection of authorized technical manuals. The novels are non-canon. Roddenberry himself said, however, that Trek V, and parts of Trek VI, were apochryphal. So, even official sources disagree. As for myself, I think the Animated Series had better scripting and was closer to the spirit of Trek than Enterprise.
As for the new Trek, my favorite aspects of the film were the performances of Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike (in fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a Captain Pike movie), the return of Leonard Nimoy (at 78, he still has game), the Kirk/Spock friendship getting off on the wrong foot, and the Spock/Uhura romance - which threw me for a loop. Anton Yelchin, as Chekov, is far superior to Walter Koenig - there I've said it, please don't throw stones. He looks more like a Russian kid (and I live in an area with a lot of Russian emigres) and he can produce a plausible, if corny Russian accent.
There were a few things about the film I didn't care for. I was shocked that Amanda (Spock's mother) was killed, then I remembered that I don't like Winona Ryder, so it was OK. Also, the score sounded like your typical summer blockbuster score, loud, repetitive, with no memorable themes. No Trek score can match Jerry Goldsmith's score from the first Trek movie, which in addition to being innovative, was amazingly subtle (how many people have figured out that V'ger's theme is a minor variant of Ilia's theme, which forshadows the Decker/Ilia/V'ger merging?). Michael Giaccino's score was indisitguishable from the score I heard from Wolverine the week prior. Most of the set design I liked (particularly the Enterprise bridge), but I didn't care for the Engine Room at all. It looked like a brewery, which is apparently exactly what it was.
Still, despite those quibbles, and the shaky camera work that seems to be in vogue these days, I thorougly enjoyed the new movie. It had a dirt under the fingernails quality modern Trek has lacked. Also, this film was FUN, which is something I haven't been able to say about any Trek I've seen since First Contact in 1996.