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May 7th, 2009

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10:56 pm - Star Trek -- take two!
Went to see "Star Trek" this evening and was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't the train wreck I expected it to be. This alternate-universe Trek movie worked better than I thought, keeping much of the spirit of The Original Series while adding more modern whiz-bang action.

For me, as well as many other fans, TOS has been the "gold standard" for Star Trek. Later incarnations of the franchise have seemed like pale imitations of the original -- OK but generally lacking a certain spark that made the original the phenomenon it was and still is. Personally, I've always attributed this to the fact that many of the first series writers were literary science fiction writers, and their stories reflected that in ways that television or movie writers don't seemed trained to do. They were very "old school" SF, playing around with the "what if" factor on an almost weekly basis. Some of the later series in the franchise did that as well, but rarely with the elan of TOS.

This Trek movie does a fairly decent job of recapturing the magic of TOS, albeit with a few flops along the way, the "new Kirk" among them. This new incarnation lacks the effervescent mischievous sparkle and charm that Shatner's Kirk had. The best I can say is that should there be more movies in this attempt to revive the Trek franchise, the a-charismatic young Kirk seen here can be seen as the callow seed from which TOS' Kirk later sprang.

The same cannot be said, however, for the other two parts of the classic TOS triad, Spock and McCoy. Quinto and Urban were both superb in their versions of the characters at the heart of most of the classic Trek stories, getting the essence of the personalities pitch-perfect. The new version of Scotty wasn't bad either, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the new Uhura and Sulu, the former seeming overly-assertive in her characterization while the latter faded into a cipher. I did like the new Chekhov, though, finding him as engaging and personable as TOS' version was.

Plotwise, the story wasn't too bad, for a typical Star Trek film that is. As science fiction it had a huge plot hole and credibility issue with the "red matter" to my mind, because of what the movie stated the nature of the substance was and what its effects are in the film. Apart from that gaping wound to plausibility, the AU worked pretty well, especially as an "origins" story. One of the things I enjoyed most about the film was hearing favorite classic TOS lines being delivered by the AU characters, especially by Urban's McCoy, who captured the essence of Kelley's original in ways that were downright eerie, while simultaneously making the character his own, something that Quinto did as well, albeit with none of the eyebrow-arching, although his deadpan was as devastating as Nimoy's. I also liked how the story pointed out that Vulcans are not only not lacking in emotion, but are in fact an extremely passionate species, albeit one that seeks to culturally constrain said passions' outward expression.

I don't know if there will be more Trek movies in this AU, but I hope there will be, since this version worked surprisingly well and I really miss the original series' characters. I never particularly cared for any of the later series (although I was fond of Voyager and rather liked Captain Archer) and would be unlikely to see a Trek movie based on them that had no tie-in to TOS, but if there were more Trek movies based in this AU, with these "re-imagined" characters, I'd be very likely to go see it -- which probably counts as a rave review from me, given what a fusspot I am.
Current Mood: mellowmellow
Current Music: "Star Trek Theme" by Alexander Courage

(Eat a pomegranate)

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