Unlike a lot of people in the galaxy, the voyagers of the Star Ship Enterprise (I don’t even know if I have the right capitalization or punctuation when I write that) have remained almost completely elusive to me up until this past Friday. I know, along with everyone else in the universe, quotes from Star Trek such as “I’m a doctor, not a physist!”, “Beam me up, Scottie”, “live long and prosper”, and words and phrases like Vulcan and Star Fleet, and the infamous cast of characters like Spock, Captain Kirk, and so on. But I am generally completely unfamiliar, or, I thought, totally un-interested in the series or the other films under the Star Trek umbrella. To me, just from seeing little clips of the show over the years while channel-surfing, it seemed boring, un-engaging, stupid, and I wondered how anyone could take it seriously.
However, on Friday, just because I was in the mood for a summer blockbuster, I went to go see the new feature-length Star Trek film, directed by J.J. Abrams. Based on the trailer, the movie looked like a completely awful piece of crap – a bad movie for the sake of making a movie, with a big-time director at the helm, destroying and Hollywood-izing a story that a lot of people care about, much to my questioning. Though not a fan, it still looked like it had ‘bomb’ written all over it. But I went anyway, and guess what? It is a wonderful film.
I was immediately intrigued right from the get-go; the decision to throw the viewer right into the midst of a catostrophic action sequence in which the future Captain Kirk loses his father, accompanied with some sharp slow-motion cinemetography is a winning one; it allows us to feel something for the character before his presence is even felt in the film. And the choice to cast an almost unknown Chris Pine (the male lead in the abysmally AWFUL Just My Luck starring a horribly mis-cast Lindsay Lohan that everyone would forget about) as Kirk is a good one. He is charismatic, attractive and charming, and plays the role of a rebellious, futuristic James Dean wonderfully. The character himself is a bit of a brat, but that edge is relatable to those of us who are not in with the Trekkies, and places us in a world we can easily know and understand. Another relateable character is the serious and emotionally stunted Spock, a “child of two worlds” (one of those ‘worlds’ being human on his mother’s side, played by the gorgeous, and very convincing Winona Ryder). Spock’s character, due to events in the film that I won’t name, is psychologically flawed and therefore makes a perfect foil and frienemy to the relaxed, confident prick, James Kirk. Yet, as anyone familiar with the series knows, the two form a strong bond and end up helping each other win the battle against theRomulans through a convoluted but entertaining series of… for lack of a better term, ‘time travel’, and pure battle strategy.
Did I understand the space-y jargon? No. Did I glean any understanding from the jargon in the film? No. But the good thing about this film is that you don’t really need to know everything about this world or its characters and the things they’re familiar with, in order to appreciate the humanism and sheer adventure that they’re living. There are some funny moments, series in-jokes, a quirky romance and some wonderful scenes with stunning effects that were seamless to look at, and really quite dazzling and impressive by today’s standards.
My problem of the film was structure and timeline, which are weak, giving us half a picture and then snatching it away, placing us in another scene too quickly. This is especially true at the beginning of the film, where the jumps in time are disorienting and only left me wanting more of the previous scene. However, overall Star Trek is sharp and well-produced.
With great performances, an interesting and intricately put-together script, this film gets a big ‘yes’ from me, shamelessly in fact, despite that when it started, I kept thinking that it was perhaps the nerdiest thing I’ve ever gone to see in a theatre. This is coming from the intense Harry Potter fan, and the girl who saw the first intallment of Lord of the Rings twice (I did hate it both times, though, so it doesn’t count). Better nerdy than flat-out bad (see: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – actually, on second thought, don’t). Even if you’re not expecting to enjoy this movie, you should give it a chance, if only so you can keep up with Trekkie conversation at the water cooler, but mainly for the great performances and fun action sequences.
This is a good film! Yay!