Posted by: Brian Hibbs on April 24, 2009
Went to an advance screening of STAR TREK last night.
The situation was odd — originally the screening was at the Metreon on Wednesday night. Then, suddenly, on Wednesday afternoon, around 3pm or so a messenger showed up with a note that the Wed screening was canceled, and it would instead be held at the AMC 1000 on Thursday instead. Weird.
What I don’t know is what happened to people who showed up at the Metreon — did they just get told to piss off, were they offered thickets to this show? What happened?
Well, they certainly didn’t make it to the Thursday showing. The place was EMPTY. Maybe a quarter full, at best. I have never EVER been to an advance screening that was as empty as this one. Even the press seats were mostly empty.
(That’s not as interesting as what happened in Austin, however)
So how was it?
Yeah, it was pretty enjoyable. The casting was keen, the writing was crisp, and I laughed and cheered and enjoyed the fan service. In terms of rebooting the franchise, it is a grand slam.
But it really isn’t that good of a movie.
Let’s get back to that, however.
[There will probably be SPOILERS after this point, so let’s hide the rest after the jump]
If you think TREK is “about” the Kirk/Spock relationship, this is a super incredible affirmation of that. Chris Pine as Kirk doesn’t ape any of Shatner’s mannerisms, but he nails the core of the character nonetheless. Zachary Quinto’s Spock clearly studied Nimoy closely, and he, too, nails it. They’re both great, and the development of the relationship is the heart of this movie.
The rest of the cast is pretty great too — the only two I didn’t really feel were Chekhov and Sulu, but those two had very little to do, anyway. Uhuru, on the other hand, is probably a more significant character in the film than McCoy even, which is slightly strange I guess, but there you go.
There’s an interesting choice to make this a hard reboot, but to explicitly make it a Parallel Universe. That’s kind of ballsy, really, and while it both makes organic science-fiction sense AND allows them to change up any damn thing they like without offending “continuity”, I can’t think of something like that ever being done anywhere outside of comics. Will the “general public” be able to follow (or care about) any of that?
Particularly with the success of the hard reboot of the Bond Franchise, I’m not so clear exactly why they felt that they had to EXPLAIN the reboot. I think that most real trekkers are probably more interested in seeing more Trek than would be freaking out between differences between TOS and nuTrek. I mean, I don’t like the new Phasers or Bridge all that much, but so what? Obviously they’re going to update those kinds of things, whether I like it or not!
The thing is, other than giving you (effectively) STAR TREK: YEAR ZERO, the reboot IS the plot — the creation of the parallel IS the “story”. And therein lies the problem.
The villain, Nero, is utterly forgettable. And terrifically two-dimensional. Further, in the context of the story, his very existence in the story means he already accomplished his own goal — because nuSpock is NOT Spock. The film makes a point of double underlining that with his relationship. nuSpock almost certainly isn’t going to become “our” Spock, because things are unfolding differently in this parallel. Which means he’s unlikely to do what he did. Further to that, “our” Spock done fucked up, which was not heroic, and there wasn’t even the thought of an ATTEMPT to try and fix what they created. Meh on that.
There’s also a bunch of unnecessary action sequences. One thinks they’re trying to show “Look, we have a budget for once!”, but I could have done without the flashbacks in Spock’s vision, or the monster chase scene on the ice planet, or probably even half the combat on and with Nero’s ship. They’re not particularly exciting sequences, and they don’t add anything.
So, walking out of the theater, I was like “YAY! Hm, that was OK” — I’m ready to see the sequel RIGHT NOW, because now that all of the exposition is over, they’ve got a GREAT cast, and reasonable design, and maybe they can make a really really good STAR TREK movie next time.
I’d say this: TREK, to me, should properly be about US. In showing the rocky start of nuKirk and nuSpock, they got really close to that — but the Science Fiction part of the story really needs to support and underline that mirror. That’s not what we have here, so while this is a GOOD film using characters set in Gene Roddenberry’s creation, it really isn’t a STAR TREK film.
Once you see it, I’d love to know what YOU think…