Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)

My budding film snobbery and disdain for action movie clichés be damned: “Star Trek” was awesome.  Do you need to have at least some knowledge of the show to ‘get’ it?  Probably…otherwise the subtle references to the show’s campier elements, from Scotty’s “I’m giving her all she’s got, Cap’n!” to Bones’s “I’m a doctor, not a physicist”, to Chekhov’s accent, to Spock’s “fascinating” (at a most inopportune moment, I might add), to Kirk’s tryst with Ms. Green skin, to Leonard Nimoy, would go right over the newbie’s head.  Even so, this is a damned exciting and fun and wacky spectacle.  The opening battle, where a captain makes a sacrifice to save his crew, sets the tone for what’s to follow by being a special effects orgy, but is surprisingly moving and dignified as well.  I really, really liked this movie because it has everything you could want out of a fun blockbuster where you can leave your brain and critical eye at the door: slapstick humor (that should be infuriating, but works because of some great chemistry between Kirk and Bones), the big showdown where the hero faces off against the villain as the other good guys do what they need to do via parallel editing, a scenario where things work out perfectly even though everyone has to be here, here, and here now, now, and now, a nefarious uber-villain bent on black hole-related Armageddon, and a completely unnecessary chase between Kirk and some huge beast that’s the telltale sign of an event film that knows it’s being silly, and doesn’t give a shit.  As a matter of fact, that’s why “Star Trek” works so well – it is silly as hell and makes no sense whatsoever (Red Matter, black holes, time travel, transporting onto a ship moving faster than light, skydiving onto a giant drill and fighting off Romulans with kung fu and samurai swords, and on and on…), and knows it and doesn’t care.  And other than Karl Urban as Bones, the cast really wasn’t really trying to impersonate their 60s counterparts, instead making Kirk and Spock and Scotty and Uhura and Sulu and Chekhov new identities for the obviously youthful, post-2000 target audience. 

I was never really a fan of any of the shows, only watching them occasionally, so I don’t think I’m too biased here or was too blinded by nods to the original show that started a cultural phenomenon, but somehow this movie managed not to defy convention or cliché, but actually embrace them, all while just assuming you’ll accept warp drive and planetary drills and black hole devices and Romulans and Vulcans and huge starships as things that’re just plain commonplace in this world (the fact that the asinine technology and the function of Starfleet and the Federation is just there and never commented on or explained to us for the sake of the Star Trek virgin is probably thanks to Abrams and his screenwriters assuming that most of their viewers will be fans of the show, but still, I liked how they didn’t feel the need to justify this stuff to you, which made this world seem more legitimate and fully-realized, and helps you feel more at home in it).  But who cares about that, ‘cuz in the end, alotta shit gets blowed up outer space, and monsters eat other monsters, and the acting captain and medical officer and chief engineer of the finest sharship in Starfleet doing their Moe, Larry and Curly routine, and you’ve got fistfights and hot chicks in their underwear and bad guys with facial tatoos and ray guns ‘n shit…isn’t that all that matters?  In this age of sequels and exorbitantly-profitable blockbusters, at least one sequel, if not more, is inevitable, and I just gotta say kudos to J.J. Abrams for adding another chapter to a long-running franchise, all while setting the stage for a new one as well.



1 comment so far

  1. moogirl22 on

    Haha, I felt the same way about this. Except I’ve never watched the show. So, yes, I guess that stuff probably did go over my head, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. That’s what made it so great – it appealed to both long-time fans and newcomers at the same time. I think most TV-to-movie and even in some cases book-to-movie adaptations require prior knowledge to be fully enjoyed, but this one was the best of both worlds, something seemingly impossible.

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