Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I'd like to marry Chris Pine, please (or, STAR TREK, the Jaw Wired Shut Review)

Thanks to a kind friend, last night I got to catch an advanced screening of Star Trek on the Paramount lot.

Well wait a minute. Before I launch into a review, let me provide some back story here, as I think it’s important to explain my degree of Trek fandom, especially as I imagine there are many who remain wary of seeing the film. I have never seen the original series, at least not that I can recall. My Star Trek memories are mostly of The Next Generation, and UPN and Captain Jean Luc Picard, and Data and a little bit of Deep Space Nine—but all this was mostly in the background because my older brother watched TNG, not I, or at least not intentionally. My grandfather was a big fan of the original series and some of the spinoffs, if I recall correctly, and I know when I was little he and my brother used to talk about the show, and I definitely picked up on details just being around their conversations. I certainly was never an obsessive fan, not nearly as much as I was for Star Wars or a show like The X-Files. I’ve seen the most recent two Star Trek movies before this one, but their plots don't stick out in my mind (I doubt they do for anyone). However, as a lover of the science-fiction genre and with a basic understanding and appreciation for the Star Trek universe, as well as being a longtime fan of J.J. Abrams work, I was really excited for this latest incarnation.

It doesn’t disappoint. The movie is thrilling. From the very first shot of space and that terrifyingly intricate Romulan ship, the film takes off at a high speed. When we first meet the young James T. Kirk, it doesn’t slow down—not for young Spock, and not as our two heroes first meet each other as young men—the plot moves quickly, not necessarily at a frantic pace, but one where I couldn’t turn my eyes away and even though I had to pee really badly during the entire film (thanks to two pre-screening margaritas), I didn’t get up. I just couldn’t (you probably didn’t need to know that, but I thought it might strengthen my glued-to-the-seat claims. Whatever).

There’s a moment where we see the Enterprise for the first time, in all its glory and I swear, I had goosebumps. It’s such an iconic image—as well as the Starfleet uniforms, it’s like revisiting with long lost family members, both comforting and new, like there's something still to be discovered.

The film definitely has that J.J. Abrams feel, and having watched many of his many television shows, I noticed a lot of the usual J.J. players on screen that other fans might not. It also reminded me a bit of the current season of Lost when the story delved into the future and time travel and destiny. The special effects were stunning, groundbreaking even—so much that at certain points I couldn’t imagine anything being fake or CGI or in front of a green screen, it all felt so real and yet larger than life.

The movie is well cast, no mistakes there. And it’s fun to see hot, young actors take over these roles, reintroducing familiar characters, and definitely in a way that a total Star Trek virgin could enjoy. I mean, how could you not enjoy Chris Pine. Dude is going to blow up after this film. Not only is he insanely attractive, but he’s got the charisma and the acting chops. (Okay, but yes, he is INSANELY attractive).

Now, I have no idea how critical diehard fans are going to feel about the movie, but I do know that non Trek fans will be able to enjoy the film, and I think that anyone at least familiar with the Star Trek characters and universe will truly appreciate the series’ well-executed reinvention. Sure, it has it's campy moments and I got lost in some of the "science," but I think that's a given with nearly any genre flick, especially one as iconic as this.

And the very last scene (SPOILER ALERT!) really tugged on my heart strings—watching the ship travel past the stars, hearing Leonard Nimoy utter that iconic line: “Space: the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” It was then I suddenly realized that I knew the exact quote, and I felt transported to a different time myself, recalling my youth, and my grandfather, and the old TV in the house I grew up in, and the blue leather sofa in our living room. And that was movie magic.

(On a side note: every time Nimoy was onscreen, or at least every time I heard him speak all I could think of was the Boston Museum of Science, because it’s his voice that does the introduction in the IMAX theater with, “Welcome to the Mugar Omni Theater, this is Leonard Nimoy.” Man I loved that museum as a kid...)

So to wrap up this shoddily organized review (I think I am still collecting my thoughts but I wanted to get this up here as soon as I could this morning), I really enjoyed the film. It was really fun, very thrilling, exciting, and even had some great comedic moments (my favorite quips came from Scotty and Bones). I need to see it again I think, so I can more fully wrap my head around it (maybe minus the margaritas this time), but it was awesome. And I cannot wait for the next one. The Star Trek series has been resurrected.
And can I just talk about Chris Pine again for a second? Yeah...

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