Monday, May 11, 2009

BuboBlog Reviews 'Star Trek'

We got to see "Star Trek" today, thanks to Elliot's grandparents watching him for a few hours. Since we only go to the movies once a quarter these days, there's extra pressure for it not to totally suck.

Fortunately, "Star Trek" did not suck. In fact, it's probably the best movie in the franchise. At the very least, it only ranks behind "The Wrath of Khan" and "The Voyage Home" (and the latter is really only a sentimental favorite for me since it contains both San Francisco and whales).

Director J.J. Abrams manages to stay faithful to the characters while giving the series a clean slate. And unlike other reboots (e.g., "Batman Begins"), it doesn't pretend that the original story never happened — it's more clever than that.

The movie has the perfect mix of humor, emotion and action. And the in-jokes for fans of the series are handled deftly (for instance, when Sulu brings up his fencing skills).

In one sequence, we find Scotty marooned on an icy planet with an alien helper. The alien, Keenser, has no lines — and yet Abrams conveys the attachment Keenser has for Scotty in a touching way. (Side question: Is he part of an established alien race in the Star Trek mythology? Also: Who thought the outpost looked like one of the "Lost" Dharma stations?)

Some quibbles:
—Apparently the Nokia brand and ring tone are still going strong in the 23rd century. I guess that's more likely than Motorola surviving until then (since that company is already hemorrhaging cash), but it's maybe a little sad since Motorola's flip phones were inspired by Star Trek.
—Odd that the young James T. Kirk uses the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" as his rebellious-youth anthem. Since this would be the 2240s (right?), that would be equivalent to a kid today rocking out to 1760s Haydn.
—Every Starfleet cadet that Kirk meets early in the film winds up on the Enterprise?
—I really liked what John Cho did with the Sulu character, making him more bad-ass. But apparently he opted to dial down Sulu's gayness, so the new movie loses diversity points. (It does have a graphic depiction of a tattooed guy drilling the people of San Francisco, which at least sounds pretty gay.)
—Too many Good God man's from McCoy, or just the right amount? I'm not sure.
—San Francisco has buildings that are thousands of feet tall, and yet, we never build another bridge? (At least it seems clear that Starfleet is in the Presidio, so that settles that.)
—The red matter...(spoiler warning): One drop can destroy a planet. And yet, when an entire payload of it explodes inside the Romulan ship, they have time to run around and taunt the captain a few more times on the communicator before finally getting pulled into a black hole? Also, I'm a little confused about Delta Vega — where Kirk finds the older Spock. It looked like Vulcan was so big in the sky that Delta Vega would have to be a moon of Vulcan — or at least a very close planet. And yet, its orbit wasn't disturbed by the black hole?

I don't want to oversell the movie, since it doesn't break a ton of new ground. It mainly manages to be a tightly woven, well paced story that brings new life to a tired franchise. And that's more than good enough for me. BuboBlog's rating: **** asterisks (out of four).