Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My "Star Trek" Review

Director/producer J.J. Abrams' new "Star Trek" feature film is entertaining, fast-paced and a sweet ride. From a general technical and creative standpoint, it is a solid piece of science-fiction entertainment.

As an ultimate "Star Trek" film, however, it falls short - mostly because "Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry isn't alive to have creative control.

Original "Trek" fans always wanted the original cast in their original roles back on television. The fans never asked for a "Motion Picture" in 1979 to ignite a feature film franchise. They never requested a "Next Generation" or a "Deep Space Nine" or a "Voyager" or an "Enterprise" on the small screen. All the "Trek" films and small-screen sequels remain fine additions to the "Star" universe.

But true "Trek" fans forever begged for William Shatner's "Captain Kirk" and Leonard Nimoy's "Mr. Spock" to spar once more with DeForest Kelly's "Dr. McCoy" back on TV (denoting and embracing the "Triad" relationship ("Kirk's" stoic balance betwixted "Spock's" logic and "McCoy's" emotion).But that never happened.

Instead, "Trekkers" received a whole TV generation ahead of "Kirk/Spock/McCoy" ("Next Generation"); a few generations before them ("Enterprise"); space-jumped around them a little bit (on "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager"); the original crew went to the movies (about which even "Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry wasn't that excited; for as he once complained, the movies became about the adventures of the characters, and not the adventures of the Enterprise; big difference.)

Certainly now, any chance of the original actors reprising their original characters in new small screen adventures will never transpire (as so many of the initial cast members have passed away, along, of course, with Roddenberry himself). (Original fans can only surmise the number of new-original episodes they could have been produced if filming had revamped of the original series - instead of "The Motion Picture" - in 1979 and continued until at least 1999 (when DeForest Kelly died)?!

That said, the new "Trek" cast, headed by Chris Pine as "Kirk" and Zachery Quinto as "Spock," are outstanding. Abrams' direction is as crisp and slick as can be, as are all the tech credits. For all intents and purposes, this new movie is a wonderful sci-fi film. If not a sincere "Trek sequel, it is without a doubt, a valiant, and very contemporary, hip attempt.Yet, it is the film's "war" slant that is disconcerting, as it is with many sci-fi films and TV shows, in general (case in point: the upcoming "Terminator: Salvation" movie).

Adventure is good for the soul; frequent war-movies, sci-fi or otherwise, are not.

There must be another way to display action sequences beyond the confines of a war-ridden script? (The original "Trek" series did it all the time.)

With any true, new "Trek," let's have an imaginative, wonderous, spectaclular feature film, TV series or webisode - all of them filled with some kind of discovery of an astounding new alien race. Let's see some beautiful visuals...with near-blinding light and color.For such is not the case in viewing the new "Trek."

Where is Roddenberry's original ethereal, vision, and well, heart, which explored strange new worlds...undiscovered countries, and exuded charm and exhilarated the audience, first and foremost with imaginative storytelling?Roddenberry's initial "Trek" employed spectacle, fancy, aptitude, humor and adventure, all wrapped within a neat package that soared with a display of a media mosaic of imaginative universe, filled and presented with fanciful disclosure.

Where is any of that in Abrams' "Trek"?

Indeed, it is wonderful to at least see a return to the costume colors from the original "Trek" uniforms. And yes, it is no easy task for any genius to recreate the wheel (and Abrams is a genius). But does it have to be such a dark, violent war-ridden wheel? Does it ALWAYS have to be such a dark, violent war-ridden wheel?

Bottom line: I want this film to make a billion dollars at the box office, for "Star Trek," for Paramount, for all the people working for Abrams, behind and in front of the camera, and in his office - and for the industry in general. Anything that will bring attention to the original "Star Trek" television series, of course, and "Star Trek," in general, is okay with me.

Next time, however, I just want it to be perfect.


Ron said...

loved the film, highly recommended folks

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about?
I mean of all people you should know how the media imitates the current times. Didn't you base your 1st book on such basis? Basic college film/tv course 101. Secondly, isn't that what Gene Roddenberry's original show did as well? It modeled the times in a visually artistic parallel relationship to what was going on in the 60's. The Star Trek legacy can not and will not live on if it does not draw in a new audience. This film has breathed new life into franchise. It has created a way for the legacy to bring a new audience to the fold. Gene Roddenberry's vision was just that of an ordinary man. He wanted people to open there minds, and expand them. In short that was his vision He never asked to be put on some golden pedestal as the all knowing. . Now those who view the new film might find the need to look back to the original series and other Trek movies and therefore be exposed to Roddenberry's original vision. The original series did not develop some spiritual triad between Spock, Kirk, and McCoy. Spock and Kirk were the focus. As with this movie it is mainly about their friendship. How they balance and complete each other. That for all Kirks heroic efforts and Spock's logic they are still incomplete individuals. The original series was not just about learning about the worlds “out there” but learning about themselves in relation to others. That is what this movie portrays, a crew growing up together, finding themselves amongst the realm of others.

In times like these movies/t.v. we look for escapism (film/tv 101). However, total escapism without a slight sense of reality is hard for the human psyche to absorb.

Comparing Terminator to this Star Trek movie, as war movie is preposterous. While Terminator is certain a war movie (humans at war with robots) Star Trek focuses instead on vengeance of an individual pushed over the edge. The original series was more "warlike" then this movie. You can lay the claim that the Federation was at war with the Klingons. Similarly, again mirroring those times (Russia and NATO). In this current movie as in real life average people pushed over the edge and driven to extreme behaviors. Your claim of Roddenberry's vision as displayed in the original series still showed conflict. Again mirroring the conflicts in society at the time ie: race relations, cold war etc.

The problem lies with being so stuck in the past and what someones vision once was that one is unable to see what is going on around them to make room for the future.

Herbie J Pilato said...

I appreciate your comments, Anonymous. And I embrace them. But I would also appreciate your courage in identifying yourself.

Please do so.