Friday, May 8, 2009
Star Trek 2009: A Review.
About an hour ago, I got back from watching the new Star Trek movie with Jose, Mika, my mom, and Kevin. I won't waste another moment; It was incredible.
It's been a long time since I've been blown away by a sci-fi movie, as big a sci-fi fan as I am. Parts of it made me recall the old Star Wars trilogy, but only based on the feeling of a true epic. I know the word "epic" has seen enough spotlight in recent years, but I feel that this movie truly deserves to be described with every sense of the word: epic.
I wasn't even this moved by Watchmen, which I was a huge fan of before the movie. Actually, maybe that makes a difference hahaha, but yea basically I thought this was better than the Watchmen movie.
I'm going to try to get all my feelings out in a good review, something I hardly ever do for movies. Be warned: It does contain spoilers, so click at your own discretion. Also, don't expect some fancy-schmancy review, I'm basically doing thought-vomite here, hahaha.
If you want to read it, click the link (the cut) below twice. I don't know why it does that, but it just does. Just do it, lol.
Let me first begin by saying, I was never a fan of Star Trek.
It's not that I didn't like it: I never saw it, and I never made the effort to see it. I guess I didn't want to put up with having to trudge through a lot of old seasons to be able to "get it," so I just never bothered. When I heard about this movie, I was rather wary: although I didn't know Star Trek, I knew Star Trek fans, and JJ Abrams had a lot to answer to in creating a modern iteration of a hefty franchise.
Let me now interrupt by saying, I was never a fan of Star Trek.
But I loved this movie.
I don't really know how to go about describing all my feelings in some cohesive way in which all my arguments flow into one another (I'm SO done with essays after this week), so I'll just categorize it all.
What is a good movie without a good plot? Because if Star Trek didn't have it, then no amount of good character development or special effects or hype could have saved it. Everything was really tight knit, from the beginning to the end. I found no loose ends: admittedly, I started to get a little apprehensive when future-Spock made his appearance, wondering how that could be explained tastefully, since so many plots that involve time-travel get it just so wrong. But the whole backstory of him and the Romulans, the black hole, made sense—it wasn't some huge AH-HA!, but it just simply made sense, and that's the mark of a good stitch in the plot: one that doesn't stick out too much.
The continuity was really sound, too. One thing I kind of scoffed at was that sci-fi is so easy to spin off of since you can throw in something like time-travelling black holes and it'll immediately be ALTERNATE REALITY TIME! Now it doesn't have to stay in line with the rest of the canon! Now, I can't personally speak for how much fits in with the canon since I haven't seen a bit of it, but repeat my sentiments about future-Spock's backstory: it makes sense, and it didn't snag, and that's all that mattered.
The pacing was excellent as well. It reminded me a lot of Star Wars, and according to this WIRED article, the Abrams and crew actually pulled some inspiration from Star Wars in order to make this Star Trek what it was. It worked in a way that made me go, "I haven't seen a space movie this epic since (the original) Star Wars!" rather than "This is a Star Wars rip-off!" which it was not. Bravo, Abrams, bravo!
I also loved that this appealed well to so much more than just original Star Trek fans. Abrams professed himself more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan—say it isn't so!—but I do believe that the absence of a fanatic obsession enabled him to make a movie that catered to both fans and non-fans alike. There were fanatic Trekkies working on the movie, though; if there weren't, how would they get all the nitty-gritty continuity things in? I believe that in that sense, Star Trek was way more successful than Watchmen, which, while an excellent adaption, left a lot of non-fans in the dark for not having read the book.
As some of you may know, I'm a HUGE science nerd, and my particular cup of tea is, without a doubt, theoretical physics. Ever since the 12th grade I've read volumes upon volumes of books on theoretical physics, fascinating myself with it, and I was very pleased to know that, if it didn't have any immediately practical application, then at least I could understand the science behind Star Trek XD And I was pleased! I understood it, and without a doubt everybody in the theatre should have understood it because the movie stated it all in such basic terms, particularly the explanation of the black-hole/worm-hole idea. As I was talking to Jose about it after the movie, he said that Star Trek is definitely in the category of "hard science fiction," meaning that a lot of its scientific bases are sound, if only theoretically or speculatively—after all, it's still science fiction. Some parts were not explained, such as the red matter used to form black holes, or how warp speed works or whatever, but in my opinion they were handled so well that they didn't need to be explained, just accepted as a part of the canon.
On a side note, lately physicist Michio Kaku has been promoting his book, Physics of the Impossible, and it feels like it came just in time for the Star Trek movie. It explains some ideas presented in science fiction such as warp speed, wormholes and laser guns, and measures it up against present human technological capacity and current scientific knowledge. It's really cool, you should check it out!
Oh, there is one thing that wasn't accurate: when matter goes through a black hole, it goes through a breaking-down process called spaghettification, in which—you guessed it—it stretches out like spaghetti and totally breaks down. Oh, and it kind of spins into it, too, not just enter it as the Romulan ship had. If the black hole were to also be a wormhole, who knows if that matter would reassemble itself the same way on the other side? And I mean, there was some spinning-spaghettification going on when the black hole took Vulcan, but not as the space ship entered and exited it. But you know what, whatever—details details—I'll let that one go. ;P
My, were they ever awesome. I loved the initial rebellion in Kirk, and while I was a little weirded out by how quickly the Enterprise ended up accepting him after he snuck on board (both times), I quickly got over it, leaving it to the fact that they were all smart and had bigger things to worry about anyway.
Oh God, Spock. I could not get over how uncanny the resemblence is between Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy. Their facial structures are similar, their nosese! THEIR NOSES! Almost exactly the same! They have the same build! I almost coudn't take it. Many, many kudos to Quinto for also making me see him as more "Spock" than "Sylar" as the movie progressed. This is a big thing, seeing as I've only known Zachary Quinto through his role as Sylar on Heroes.
The rest of the characters, while not taking the spotlight from Kirk and Spock, add their good dashes of awesome. I love that Russian kid Chekov, "Wulcan!" Scotty was awesome, and I loved McCoy, "Dammit, Jim!"
It was INTENSE. I felt like there was enough action throughout, and the parts without it had good enough dialogue to not make the scene boring or anything. One effect I absolutely love in space-based sci-fi is when, in the midst of explosions, you have a well-timed moment where the explosion in space is shown making no sound. Because there's no sound in space! It's like, right before the booms and the whooshing, there's total silence, and you just take in the visual impact of the explosion. Breathtaking. The hand-to-hand fight scenes were equally intense: when Spock was tearing Kirk a new one on the ship, I could totally feel it. There's something about the way punches, kicks, and other bodily impacts are fx'd these days that make it seem so much more impactful. And you know what the best part of that scene was? As Spock was choking Kirk and making that mean you-little-sonuvabitch face, thought, Damn Spock, damn! instead of Wow, he looks like Sylar. I applaud you, Quinto.
I didn't feel like the dialogue was corny, either. It was simple, made sense, and didn't fall into corniness—not like the Wolverine movie, which was kind of wading in it, hahaha. The use of humor helped it roll along without action as well, such as that big Star Fleet guy calling Kirk a "cupcake" upon capturing him, repeating what Kirk called him back at the bar. That was cute, but not overdone. Same with
Kirk: Her name is Nyota?
Spock: I have no comment on the matter.
That was just plain giggle-worthy. I think what made the humor good was that it wasn't overdone or dwelled on. Never in the movie did I see humor try to stick out for its own sake, rather, it was a fine supplement to the dialogue that made sense with what was going on. You could say the timing was great.
The Music/Special Effects
Good Lord, that was some epic shit. Pardon my French, but I am beyond blown away by the orchestral majesty of the soundtrack. It really made certain scenes memorable, such as their hair-raisingly narrow escape from the black hole. I actually found myself grinning.
I just read that the composer for the Star Trek soundtrack was Michael Giacchino, who also composed the music for two of my favorite movies, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, whose soundtracks I own and love. Seriously, this man is a king among composers.
Need I mention the special effects? It was flawless. The scene that takes the cake in that area, for me, is the destruction of the Vulcan planet. That was just such a powerful image, that slow caving in. That part got the theory of the black hole right: matter spins into the singularity, and occasionally emits bursts of radiation as a result of the friction from the matter being swallowed so quickly. Simply astounding.
So yea, that's about it.
As a non-Trekkie, I loved it.
From a Trekkie point of view? Well, my mom is a veteran Trekkie (she owns a "Everything I know in life, I learned from Star Trek" shirt"), and gives the opinion that I've heard echoed across other Trekkies of the internet: this movie is a lot more action-packed than any of the other Star Treks, which really separates itself from the franchise. However, she thinks that it's better that way, since it attracts the younger audience and makes full use of the actors' abilities and special effects. She approved :)
Me: You should have worn your Star Trek shirt!
Mommy: Hahaha, the old generation? You must be joking.
I love her :D
Also, my friend Lauren put her thoughts about the new movie this way:
"Well, I think that part of the reason I love star trek so much is because I grew up with it, and as a kid, the cheese, the "bad graphics", all of that jazz, was cool... but I think if I introduced myself to it today, I wouldn't like it as much. The original movies weren't extremely action packed, and would be deemed boring now a days. So, in order to make the movie successful (and in effect ressurrect/keep the Star Trek legacy alive) it had to market itself as an action packed movie to reach out to not only the Trekkies, but the non trekkies as well... the original star treks had a lot of action for THEIR time."
Well said, friend :)
Conclusion: Star Trek 2009 is a must-see for old, new, and non fans all the same.
Liked my review? Want to read a review from an actual Trekkie?
Then head over to my friend Lauren's blog for her review: To Boldly Go Where Others Have Gone Before!
As always, SPOILERS!