Friday, May 8, 2009

Well, I saw it.

Then I drank three beers.

I thought long and hard about how I would deal with this review and I can only say. It's going to be a dissertation folks! So prepare yourselves!







OKAY…You've been duly warned.

First of all let me say. It was a first-rate action flick!

What kills me is that for all of the things that Orci and Kurtzman (Exec Producers BTW) and Abrams got right…they sure did know how to blow it with other stuff.

Okay. What did I love about this movie? Lots actually.

WHAT WENT RIGHT (From "Best-of-the-best" to "Pretty-darn-close.")

#1) The USS Enterprise: I must personally apologize to all of the techno-canonites out there, but I absolutely loved the look and feel of the 1701. She's beautiful in the film. The shots of her in every situation made me want to be on her. The engineering section looks like an engineering section should! (I will address the Engineer in another section of this tome.) The shuttle bay looks the way a shuttle bay should! Her mere presence in the space that surrounded her looked, felt and sounded absolutely real. She has a dimension to her that I have never experienced before and I would watch the movie again if only to drool over the ship. The artists deserve every accolade they will be getting, because the USS Enterprise was the real star of this movie.

#2) Leonard McCoy: This was the only character that seems to have survived the new timeline unscathed. Karl Urban nails McCoy. Everything about him is spot on; his techno-phobia, his mannerisms and character-defining lines are handled without trying to copy DeForest Kelley, but rather to pay homage to his portrayal. It felt natural coming from Urban. He is part of one of the funniest scenes in the movie and although something medically has gone horribly wrong, (it's not because of his mistake) he gets to show us why Bones is such an amazing physician. Another intense scene cements it for us. Space may be disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence, but Leonard McCoy shows us that he has the gift of living in space with grace, aptitude and humor.

#3) Every single line/reference/nod to TOS: There were many of them. They all made me laugh or be nostalgic or giggle with glee. All of them worked, like gold.

#4) Captain Pike: Bruce Greenwood shows us all what a true starship Captain is all about. Dignity, honor, poise under pressure and duty-bound to the core. (Although there's no way in hell I'd believe he'd make fresh cadet the XO of his ship – that was just laughable…and people did laugh.) But Pike was exactly the man I always thought he was from the show.

#5) Spock: Well, I have to say it. Zachary Quinto was alright. He had a tough role. It can't be easy to play someone who stifles his emotions and still comes off as being more than cardboard. Spock was almost true-to-form. There are aspects about him that were missing, but nothing that I couldn't overlook. There is only one huge mistake with him, but I will address it later in the rant phase of this blog.

#6) Sulu: Cho brings Sulu home. Yeah, there's not whole lot with him, but what scenes he does have are all fun. His fight scene was a ball, sword and all. His time at the helm brought a smile to my face and it returned every time I saw him there. There wasn't a whole lot that could go wrong with Sulu, and I'm glad that none of it occurred. There wasn't a whole lot that Sulu could bring to the table either.

#7) Kirk: Orci and Kurtzman gave us two different Kirks in this tale. The first one is a royal ****. I hate him. I hate everything about him and I don't for a moment believe that he has any potential. I will address plot points later, but Kirk undergoes a significant and (thankfully) believable change when he encounters Old Spock. It's then that Kirk comes out of his phloxhole closet and it's only then I believe he's the Kirk we all knew and loved. Pine is quite good, but he doesn't really get a chance to act in this movie. His role is mainly written as being everyone's literal punching bag. Pine is really good at stunt fighting, but there was so damn much of it, it was becoming laughable and ridiculous. At one point during the movie I turned to The Husband and said…is there anyone who hasn't beat the crap out of him yet? He shrugged.

#8) Nero: Meh. He's bad simply because he's a freak who destroys a planet. (This plot point will be addressed later.) We never really experience his anger, never see his madness and we never see his lunacy. He was too cool, too bland and too nice. We didn't see the toll the 25 year wait took on him and/or his crew. (Again this will be addressed later.) We didn't see anything but his pointy ears, his pointy sword, his pointy ship and his pointy tweezers holding his pointy bug. (TWOK fans were sniggering over the use of the pointy bug.) We didn't see anything but a really cranky guy. As a villain Nero is villainy, but he's NOT one of Trek's worst. Khan and the Borg Queen still rule the realm in that regard.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK: (Again in descending order, from "Not-so-bad" to "OMG-I-can't-believe-this-bullphlox!")

#1) Chekov/Scott: Why am I placing these two characters together? Because I'm convinced that Orci and Kurtzman must have accidentally switched names on the scripts. In this movie Chekov is a 17-yr old prodigy. He's a brain with a very thick accent. He's a physics and engineering demi-god. Wait, "That's Scott!" you say? Well, in any other world you'd be right. The Montgomery Scott we knew from TOS was that person – Third in Command and Second Officer of the Enterprise and an Engineering demi-god. But in this movie, that role was given to Chekov, NOT Scott. No, Scott in this movie is the comic relief, the buffoon, the Engineering guy who just happens to get lucky sometimes. It's a crying shame. Montgomery Scott has been emasculated by Chekov. And it's a travesty.

#2) The Destruction of Vulcan and Romulus: Yep. You read that right. Romulus has been destroyed in the "original" timeline. When Nero tries to kill Spock for Spock's apparent failure to save Romulus, they both get sucked back into time. It's just that Nero gets sucked back 25 years earlier than Spock. So he destroys the Kelvin when he gets there and kills Kirk's daddy. (This is the opening scene of the movie and it's very intense, emotional and frankly – brilliant. Not only do I want a Captain Robau mug, I want a George Kirk mug.) This is what creates the now infamous alternate universe. Now Nero is really cranky. He's been sucked back into time and is forced to wait until Spock shows up to inflict his revenge upon him. He wants Spock to suffer the same exact pain he suffered when he watched Romulus go kablooey and sits around the AU doing pretty much nothing for 25 years until Spock arrives. Yeah. Seriously, he just waits. And when "future" Spock does finally appear, he captures him – sends him to an ice planet (can anyone say Hoth?) and is forced to watch as Nero blows up Vulcan to just to spite the old guy. So, we're left with our "orginal" timeline with a missing Romulus and an "alternate" timeline with a missing Vulcan. EPIC, EPIC FAIL.

#3) Plot devices: Here's just a short list of the amazing amount of work these two writers made up to make this movie work. And most are just pathetic:
a) Young Spock orders Kirk off the Enterprise and Kirk's placed in a pod and shot out and lands on said ice planet – expelled like trash. Uhm…what was wrong with just locking him up in the brig?
cool.gif Scott just happened to be on said ice planet, also banished for torching a beagle while practicing warp speed transporting. Uh…yeah.
c) Apparently when you "enlist" in Starfleet you automatically get to go to the Academy. It's not an officer's school it's just 3-4 years of basic training.
d) Captains make cadets First Officers all the time. (*headdesk*)
e) Kirk cheating on the Kobayashi Maru. Orci: you call yourself a Trek fan? I think you missed the mark on this. Kirk never cheated. "He changed the parameters of the test." Kirk should have been able to show everyone in the audience that he's a BRILLIANT strategist, not that he's a cheater. How could that have been done? Easily – by having Kirk show that he didn't see the Klingons as the enemy in the test, but that the test itself was the enemy and the programmer was its leader. By taking on the test as the enemy as opposed to the enemy within the test, Kirk could have shown everyone the reasons he was deserving of early promotion. By intimating that he cheated, you've lessened the man and the hero he was.

#4) Product Placement: From Budweiser to Nokia, there's advertising all through this movie. While the Nokia ring made me laugh a bit, the man sitting next to me questioned how much Nokia paid to get that bit in the movie.

#5) The senseless destruction of a classic Corvette: Nuff said. wink.gif

#6) And finally, the rant you've all been waiting for….

UHURA and the rest of the female characters in the film

For the life of me I do not understand people sometimes. Some people who have reviewed this film said Uhura was "nobody's fool" and a "strong woman" in this film.

Pardon me while I disagree…with fervor.

When we first meet her, she's bopping around a club in Iowa. She's on her way to, or back to (it's never really made clear) San Francisco. Why they're in Iowa is anyone's guess. But she's there, ordering a boat load of drinks for her buds in the other room. Kirk, being the sex maniac he is, tries to pick up on her. You know what? The exchange between them doesn't bother me as much as "cupcake" who "defends" Uhura's damsel-not-really-in-distress. Why he doesn't end up in the brig pisses me off to no end. Kirk gets the crap beat out of him. Well he should of, because the look on his face after he got two handfuls of Uhura breasts was enough to make me want to kick his ass too.

The next time we see Ms. Uhura, she interrupts her Orion roommate and Kirk getting hot and heavy on her bed. Just because Abrams felt it was entirely necessary, she starts to undress; before she starts undressing however, the Orion panics – saying that her roommate doesn't appreciate her bringing home so many men. Okay – here's the big spoiler. Why the eff should Uhura give a crap about a fellow cadet's sex-life when she's already banging Professor Spock?

Yep – you read that right. Spock and Uhura are a solid item in this movie. Uhura is sleeping with Spock – her superior. She even threatens him when he assigned her to the Farragut because he didn't want to "show favoritism"! He caves of course (because he loves her or because he fears the sexual harassment allegations we're not sure) and he assigns her to the Enterprise, where he himself is assigned as First Officer.

Putting the S/U thing aside for a moment…

There is a scene (frankly, it's the funniest scene in the movie) where Kirk knows something's wrong and he runs to Uhura to get some information from her. Now, I realize it's necessary to keep a tight-flowing script, but Uhura TELLS him about a series of Romulan messages she's intercepted and translated. Thing is? We don't get to see her perform this incredible talent. We only hear that she's got it.

During this film, we got to see Chekov's brilliant mind at work. We got to see Scott's (albeit clumsy) engineering skills in action. We got to see Sulu's fencing skills put to the test. We get to see Spock's logic save the day. We got to see Kirk's tactical mind put into practice and we got to see Bones use his extraordinary skills as a physician. But we only got to hear about Uhura's talent. What we got to see of Uhura was her bra-covered breasts, her kissing Spock and her being the pretty sex-object, stereotypical woman she was.

Strong woman eh? One that has a talent that still can't get her anywhere but into her Professor's bed in order to get the job she's actually qualified for?

Her only scenes in this movie were to show skin or be the emotional grounding rod for Spock when his mother and his planet are destroyed by Mr. Spiky-Pole.

Abrams, Orci…Kurtzman…You motherphloxers.

What women are in this movie?
Mrs. Sarek – Spock's mother. She loves her son and she consoles him when he's in tumoil. She dies. Boo hoo.
Mrs. Kirk – Kirk's mother. She loses her husband who heroically slams his ship into Nero's while she's giving birth to their son. She's never heard from again…conveniently "off-planet" when Kirk decides to "enlist." We only see her crying.
Orion Cadet: Sex object for Kirk.

Yeah, that's pretty much it.

Uhura was described as a "nobody's fool" by another reviewer. She did know very well how to manipulate her man into giving her want she wanted. Yet we never get to see her "true" talent of xenolinguistics put into practice and she ends up being the stereotypical emotional pillar for all the men on the ship.

Disappointment doesn't begin to describe my feeling about this development.

Once more, the women in Trek are relegated to being the stereotypical nurturer either by being a mother or by being a love interest for a male character. Uhura is defined by her relationship with Spock, not because she got to show off her own skills.


This is an amazing action movie. I recommend that you see it just for the effects, pace and to laugh at the funny parts.
It's new.
It's shiny.
It's pointy.
It's fun.
It's pathetic.
It's a blast.
It's mindblowing.
It's enraging.
It's Trek AU.

It's not the Trek I know and it never will be.

I think I'm going to watch Nemesis…Romulus still exists in that movie and no one loses a Corvette.

1 comment:

  1. HA! My response to Pegg's portrayal of my favorite engineer ever. Admittedly, based on my own stuff, but since my stuff is all based in canon or logical extrapolation:

    Scotty: Made it into the history books at sixteen. (Kobayashi Maru)
    Impostor: Fried a beagle.
    Scotty: Court-martialed for being a bit of a rebel. (ONOW)
    Impostor: Exiled to run from cameo monsters.
    Scotty: Worked his way up through the ranks post-court-martial. (Canon, baby)
    Impostor: Showed up and took over?
    Scotty: Capable of commanding a starship. (Canon!)
    Impostor: Thinks it's exciting.
    Scotty: Actually comes up with ingenious solutions to impossible problems. (Canon!)
    Impostor: ...has a sidekick?

    Accept no substitutes. I'm surprised anyone expects me to just accept the 'he was funny!' excuse. I don't care how funny Pegg is. Doohan was funny, too, but boy, Doohan could do drama as well. He could do smart, competent, intense, intelligent. He could do it without a sidekick, he could do it in command of a starship. He was complex and fun and most of all... smart.

    Sorry. ;-) Just ranting. So far, no one (NO ONE) has said that Pegg's playing a genuinely smart guy. All they say is he's funny.