Friday, June 26, 2009
481 - Star Trek review
The success of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” serves as proof that what was once the exclusive domain of the geek has infiltrated and taken control of the mainstream. This has been evident for years with the success of films based on comic books and other properties, but by repackaging “Star Trek” as a fast-paced, youthful, explosion-filled space opera, everyone from that vital market of people under 50 has been invited to drop their cash on characters and plots once primarily attended to by nerds.
Will the Trekkers be satisfied with this one once the dust settles? I don’t know, and it’s obvious that Abrams doesn’t much care; they’ll be buying tickets regardless of whether or not they actually approve of it. It’s obvious throughout this incarnation that the goal is You, the non-Star Trek fan, the people who always considered “Star Trek” to be boring compared to “Star Wars” or watching paint dry. In this age, perhaps no intellectual property is invulnerable to a dramatic and glitzy transformation tailor-made to make great advertisements.
Gone are the middle-aged scene-chewers of the series and subsequent films, replaced with handsome men that probably had a better looking prom dates than I did and pretty women that might traipse around in their underwear should the advertisements call for it. Those TV budget-friendly model ships give way to gloriously expensive CGI space vessels, replete with dozens of weapons platforms and crew not afraid to use them.
What about the script? Well, it’s quite light on Spock’s beloved logic, which essentially means that it carefully mimics the vast majority of the TV episodes and films. A villain from the future (Eric Bana laden with facial tattoos) travels in a ship to the past (still hundreds of years ahead of where we are now, get it?) to satisfy a grudge against Spock (played both by Zachary Quinto as a young man and Leonard Nimony as an ancient one), which also entails destroying Earth, where all of us have presumably been buried for quite some time now. William Shatner is replaced by Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk as a sort of belligerent brat whose charm makes him likeable instead of insufferable. Iowans might take time to notice that as a child Kirk drives his father’s classic car off the Grand Canyon, which in the future is apparently located in Iowa. Kirk and Spock and the rest of the original characters minus 50 years must stop the villain by any means possible, the only means that apparently work being to use lasers and bombs, which entertain most people more than diplomacy and gimmicky-science tricks.
Abrams, the creator of stupid TV shows such as “Alias” and brilliant ones such as “Lost,” seems a bit uncomfortable directing outside of the small screen, leaning heavily on trivial developments to push the story forward. That considered, it’s a tribute to the charm of the cast and the staggeringly impressive special effects that “Star Trek” largely soars through its running time, becoming about as good of a PG-13 blockbuster we’re going to get this summer, one that either evolved or devolved (depending on your prior commitment to the series) into something easy to consume and much more dazzling to the eye than to the mind.
Posted by James at 6/26/2009 03:08:00 PM