EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MAY 13, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
Everything old is new again, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned, and the venerable Star Trek franchise is the latest tale to be revived by the movie moguls. Oddly, or perhaps inevitably, it’s worth a look whether you’re a fan of the old show or new to the adventures of the USS Enterprise.
The movie does not boldly go anywhere that Star Trek has not gone before, but that’s a comfort to those of us old enough to have watched William Shatner pull on his boots at the edge of some alien babe’s bed back in the 60’s.
OK, maybe that’s not completely fair. There are some twists in the latest version, but they’re variations on familiar themes rather than radical departures. Some critics have panned the film for sticking to the old formula, but if it ain’t broke – well, you know the rest.
The signature relationship in Star Trek is, of course, that between Kirk and Spock, which is a personalization of the eternal battle between emotion and reason that defines us as human beings. Young Kirk and Spock go through the expected paces, although this version of Spock is a bit mushier. But he’s still a kid, and presumably he’ll get that whole emotional thing back under control later.
Kirk? They take Kirk in an interesting direction. The swagger is there, for you can’t have a James Tiberius Kirk without bravado, but he’s also something of a punk, albeit one who – for most of the movie – gets his butt kicked rather than the other way around. They give this Kirk more a sense of humor, about himself and every thing else, which works for me, but may disappoint die-hard Shat fans.
The familiar cast of supporting characters are there, including a delightfully curmudgeonly Bones McCoy who spends a good deal of time chasing Kirk around to give him another injection in the neck. The Montgomery Scott character is equally entertaining, although he does not get nearly enough screen time. We are also happy to report that female crew members are once again attired in completely impractical mini-dresses and boots.
And then there’s the usual troop of disposal red-shirts, Vulcans with bad hair cuts and sinister Romulans who fill the sullen antagonist role, complete with mysterious, seemingly unbeatable, technology. It’s all familiar stuff, comfort-food for the movie-goer psyche.
Leonard Nimoy shows up about halfway through the show, and was greeted by an eruption of applause during my viewing. I won’t spoil the “secret” of Nimoy’s role, but he delivers the classy, dignified performance you would expect.
The computer graphics and special effects are everything that you would expect in 2009 and when you see “NCC-1701” emblazoned on the hull as the shot pans back, you can just about make out the welds in whatever exotic alloy they use to build starships.
Too many of the fight scenes (that’s human fights, not space battles) use the “shakey-cam” for my taste. I get it: that style is supposed to convey a sense of panicked frenzy, but it really just confuses most of the audience, and creates a good deal of nausea in the seats as well.
Yet, that’s a very small criticism for what was a very enjoyable afternoon at the cinema. Nothing earth-shaking or awe-inspiring there. Nothing that is going to change your outlook on life. But, isn’t that what entertainment is supposed to be about? It seems that everyone is preaching at us, pretty much twenty-four/seven. It’s nice to escape into a fantasy world for a couple of hours, without the burden of having to learn another lesson.
If you’re a fan of the original, I’d definitely recommend it. Take the kids too, for there’s nothing offensive here either. Well, Kirk does have a bit of tumble with a scantily-clad green-skinned alien lass, but – compared to what they see on South Park and Family Guy anyway – it’s pretty tame stuff.
Enjoy and, oh yeah: live long and prosper.