Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Force is with STAR TREK


I saw the new STAR TREK and my first thought was that it was f'ing awesome, exhilarating, totally lived up to the hype and was easily the best TREK film I've ever seen. But my second thought was that, damn, there sure were a lot of familiar homages in the film... and I'm not talking about old school TREK references. I submit for your approval:

• TREK opens with Nero's Romulan battleship attack on the much smaller U.S.S. Kelvin ←→ A NEW HOPE opens with Vader's Star Destroyer attack on the much smaller Tantive IV.

• A Romulan superweapon destroys the planet Vulcan while Spock is forced to watch helplessly ←→The Death Star destroys the planet Alderaan while Leia is forced to watch helplessly.

• Kirk is stranded on a frozen planet and attacked by a huge ice creature ←→ Luke is stranded on a frozen planet and attacked by a huge ice creature.

• The Enterprise's hyperdrive conks out when they first try to go to warp ←→ The Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive conks out at numerous critical moments in EMPIRE.

• Kirk grows up as a rebellious Iowa farmboy and gets accosted in a local bar ←→ Luke grows up as a whiny Tatooine farmboy and gets accosted in a local cantina.

• In a picturesque scene, Spock's mother wears a flashy dress & headgear and somberly stands before an open window in a castle on Vulcan ←→ In a picturesque scene, Luke & Leia's mother wears a flashy dress & headgear and somberly stands before an open window in a castle on Naboo.

• Kirk hangs onto a ledge for dear life while a tattooed Romulan stands over him and taunts ←→ Obi-Wan hangs onto a ledge for dear life while the tattooed Darth Maul stands over him and taunts.

The list goes on and on. Clearly, J.J. Abrams figured that the only way to really make a great Trek film was to basically model it after that OTHER space saga, of which he himself is an ardent fan -- and in doing so, settle the long-standing WARS vs. TREK debate once and for all. Take that, Trekkies!

Okay, okay, I'm kidding (mostly)... but the STAR WARS influences are definitely there, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. Don't worry, I wont be turning in my lightsaber and donning a Federation uniform anytime soon.... but damned if this battle-hardened STAR WARS geek didn't enjoy the hell out of what was, believe it or not, my first big screen STAR TREK experience.

The great thing is that while I'm sure it appeals to die-hard TREK fans on many deep levels, it is also perfectly suited for novices such as myself. I know Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Bones and Co. and I know their catchphrases and things, and they're all there. I admit, I geeked out a bit when Bones gave us his first, "Dammit, I'm a doctor not a physicist!" and Scotty exclaimed, "I'M GIVIN' HER ALL SHE'S GOT, CAPTAIN!" and Spock used the Vulcan Neck Pinch. The first meeting of Kirk and Spock was cool to see and the first shot of the Enterprise was appropriately grandiose. Basically, everything you could possibly want to see in a TREK film, regardless of the extent of your fandom, is there.

It helps that the cast is pretty incredible. Chris Pine is no Shatner, but he's great as a rebellious, hotshot James T. Kirk, giving him a Han Solo attitude that works wonders. Zachary Quinto's Spock is full of depth and emotion vs. logic conflict. (Whether or not Pine & Quinto will be as perfect for each other as Shatner & Nimoy remains to be seen, but they're off to a damn good start.) Meanwhile, Zoe Saldana is smoking hot as Uhura, though I preferred her slutty green-skinned roommate. Rounding out the Enterprise crew, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and the great Simon Pegg are all friggin' awesome as Bones, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty, respectively, and they all have their moments in the spotlight. Eric Bana chews the scenery with gusto as the evil Nero. And of course, it's cool to see a certain original cast member join the fun.

Tell you the truth, I'm not even sure what didn't work. Trekkies surely have more to say on that matter, but it was pure entertainment to me. The whole time-travel thing can be a slippery slope, because it's kind of a cop-out (Kirk even points that out during a key scene, in a clever bit of self-deprecation by the writers). However, it worked in SUPERMAN, and it works here. I guess STAR TREK is lucky in that way -- every 20 years or so, when things start to get stale, you can just fuck around with the time-space continuum and make it interesting again. Pretty ingenious, really -- though from what I understand, it hasn't always worked quite so well in previous films!

(Also, I'm sure there will be people who will say, "This movie is what the STAR WARS prequels should have been!" and perhaps there is some truth to that. I've never been a huge Abrams fan -- I've never watched LOST and I thought CLOVERFIELD was a steaming pile of shit -- but it's clear, even in a TREK film, that he puts the Holy Trilogy on a pedestal and you can't help but wonder what he might've done with, say, ATTACK OF THE CLONES. But what can you do... faults and all, the prequels hold a special place in my heart and I don't want to get into THAT debate right now....)

Suffice to say, with his vision of STAR TREK, J.J. Abrams has indeed boldly gone where no man has gone before, and I am psyched to see where he takes the crew of the Enterprise from here. Until then, may the Force be wi... er, I mean, Live Long and Prosper! :)


  1. Dude.. Lost is like, the best TV show ever. You're missing out. Rent all the DVDs and lock yourself in your house for a several days and find out. :)

  2. Don't forget about Kirk meeting old Spock. The conversations were very reminiscent to Luke meeting Yoda in Empire

  3. Brian - Don't worry, I fully intend to watch LOST in its entirety someday. Though at this point I'll probably just wait till it's all finished!

    Rajon - Yep, there are many others. Though the more I think about it, the more that particular scene reminds me of Luke & Obi-Wan in A NEW HOPE: Old Spock saves Kirk from the ice creatures, takes him into his home and tells him about his destiny <---> Old Obi-Wan saves Luke from the Sandpeople, takes him into his home and tells him about his destiny!