Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek: Reboot

To boldly go...

Where to begin? I just got back from a late show of the new Star Trek flick, the amazingly good new Star Trek flick. It's not quite Wraith of Khan, but it's squarely the second best of the franchise. But therein also lies a big problem, it exists outside of franchise now, even though it bears the same name and the same characters. Oh yeah, spoilers abound everywhere, you've been warned...

Star Trek loves time travel, it always has, from the quantum leap episodes of the original series, and through each successive spin off show and a few of the motion pictures. Nothing out of the ordinary really that they start the new movie off with a time travel bang as well, the key difference here being that there is no going back when they're done. There's no tidy ending that sets everything back to normal at the end of two hours; the entire Star Trek premise and its iconic characters are thrust into a newly divergent alternate reality. There most certainly is no turning back and everything from this point will exist in completely uncharted territory. A singular time travel event occurs that puts all of these events in motion, starting with the very birth of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. It was an incredibly gutsy move to make, but if there was going to a complete reboot for a beloved, 43 year old, sci-fi franchise, this was the only way to do it...and do it right.

With eleven films, and six separate series (yes, I'm counting the cartoon) the entire Star Trek mythos was one giant quagmire of continuity and story lines that would scare off the most stalwart writers and directors out there. Then you also have the fans, who you can't possibly hope to please all at once, so what to do? Completely shut the door on it all, which is what they've done, turn your back on the quagmire and forge your own, new path. Looking back at the movie, they've turned a sci-fi staple that everyone knows like the back of their hand upside down and now anything goes.

The (new) crew of the USS Enterprise

When I had first heard of the casting I thought it ridiculous to be fair. I guess that's what I get for typecasting actors though, forgetting that they can actually act in the first place. I'm still stunned for lack of a better word and the amazing duality the film has; on the one hand it's "plain old" Star Trek, but on the other, it's totally different. You're glad to see your old crew favorites, but they're in a whole new light, but not in the way Batman Begins retold its origin, because these origins are totally new.

Bones really stood out in my mind, and Urban did a marvelous job of capturing body language, speech inflection, and all nuances no matter how minor of DeForest Kelley. As for looking the part, it was uncanny what a bowl haircut and pointy ears on Quinto did to make the new Spock look just like the old Spock. He acted the part well too, although the script had Spock markedly more human in his emotions often. Simon Pegg was a great Scotty too, he was funny, but not overpowering, and melded easily enough into the background of engineering as needed, plus he had the great accent too.

Then there was Kirk. He's as reckless now as ever. He thinks with his heart and acts with his fists, it's still Captain Kirk, and the film did a nice job showing this at every stage of his life. You can't fill Shatner's shoes, but the next best thing is to do with your character what the movie itself did for the franchise; don't reinvent/reinterpret/retell the man that is Kirk. Make a new one from scratch. Chris Pine, under the solid direction of J.J. Abrams does exactly that.

New beginnings

I think it goes without saying that I highly endorse this movie. On many levels, they've done such a wonderful job of capturing the flavor, feel, and substance of the original Trek, while simultaneously giving it far more than just a new face lift with special effects. They gave it a new life without having to live under the colossal shadows of its predecessors. It's late, and this repetitive and rambling post of mine could be more coherent, just read this CTV review, I think it sums it up pretty well.

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