Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts on the film: Star Trek

Just like so many other people, I saw Star Trek this weekend. A lot has been said already by various people all over the Internet, so I'm just going to make two specific points.

First, one of the trailers was for GI Joe. This trailer looked so phenomenally stupid I was amazed it was released to the public. When your trailer editor can't make your explosion-heavy film look good you have a serious problem. Oh look, they destroyed the Eiffel Tower again. Never seen that before. And look, every single character kind of looks the same. I didn't see the different personalities from the show. I saw like three characters I vaguely recognized and a bunch of other generic things I've seen before. And I'm not the only one. When the trailer ended, laughter ran throughout the theater. Not awe and comments about how people wanted to go see it - actual guffaws over the silliness. See for yourself:

GI Joe trailer

I'd post it directly but I can't get Youtube at work.

Okay so there's that.

Then we watched the movie, which was the opposite of that. Moving, fun, exactly what it was supposed to be. It had plenty of references for the average fan but it wasn't one long inside joke. The Beefcake, who is not a Star Trek fan and not really a fan of sci-fi at all, did not hate the movie. Believe me, that's high praise. If it's not Robocop, he hates it.

I knew like five minutes in when I was emotionally moved by the birth/death scene that I was gonna like this, but there was one particular moment where I realized just how well this was written.

Spoilers from an early scene:

At one point Kirk, Sulu and some guy in a red jumpsuit (Yep, red. Guess what happens to him?) are on their way down to the planet on their first away mission. Sulu volunteered because he claimed to have combat training. Kirk asks him what his combat training is, to which he replies "Fencing."

And you laugh. Oh dear, fencing. He'll be useful. Well Kirk, I guess it's all up to you because we know Red Shirt over there won't be around long.

Then they get down to their target and Kirk ends up in a fight to the death and here comes Sulu, and just when this Romulan comes at him and you think he is totally screwed, he reaches in his backpack and pulls out a retractable sword.

And you go "Oh. Fencing!"

Textbook screenwriting. You thought that was a throwaway line for laughs, but Sulu turns out to know exactly what he's doing, and it gives us a badass sword fight on big platform filled with firey things. I think that was my favorite moment in the movie.

End spoilers

The whole thing was fun, really. It was pretty tight. There was one chase-through-snow-by-alien-creatures sequence that brought up not-so-fond memories of the useless underwater chase from The Phantom Menace that could have been cut waaaaay down, and there was this thing in the water tubes that seemed sort of random, but other than that the story was very clean and moved along at a good clip.

In short, as my students would say, I likeded it.


  1. haha "likeded."

    yeah the GI Joe trailer made me LOL so hard, god, it looks so stupid. I would be too embarrassed to endorse the film if I was an actor appearing in it.

    That scene with Kirk, Sulu, and the dude in the red shirt, is also one of my favourites as well. I also REALLY liked watching the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, onscreen, that put a huge smile on my face.

  2. My first comment in a while. Howdy.

    I saw Trek Thursday night and I agree with your analysis. Orci and Kurtzmann did one HELLUVA job. I'm actually working on my first film review. This is the best movie I've seen in a long time.
    It had just the right blend of character and story. It knew when to crack a joke and when not to.

    I actually thought it would make more, but I'd say they should have marketed as "the Kirk you never knew" rather than "not your father's Star Trek."

    That beginning scene was what cinema is. Human emotion in the midst of antagonistic assault.

  3. Of course you know the fencing was a callback, right?

  4. Yes, it was a show reference that paid off whether you've seen the show or not, that's why it's great storyteling.


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