Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trekking

That's the way to do it! Went to the pics recently to see the new Star Trek film and had one of the best times I can remember at the cinema in recent years. What a brilliant film! I have to admit that I am not the world's biggest Star Trek fan. I'm not even sure I have seen every episode of the original series and certainly can't name them or know what order they came in. Later Star Trek variants bored the pants off me, with perhaps only the Borg episodes coming close to interesting me (and that's only because the Borg were a cunning reworking of the Cybermen from you know what). But this film had it all. J J Abrams takes us back in time to before the original crew of the Enterprise were in situ, documenting the events which surrounded and led up to them all meeting and ending up at the helm of the USS Enterprise in the first place. The touches were all there - Captain Pike, Romulans, Vulcans, Kirk's legendary way with women ... but recast and mixed up so that it's not quite what you expect. The actors are uniformly brilliant, with each managing to capture traits of the original cast members without it being too forced. I particularly liked Simon Pegg's Scottie (along with the almost obligatory appearance by Deep Roy who must hold some sort of record for genre film appearances by now) and Uhura was also nicely played, though I couldn't get my head around her romance with Spock. Sylar out of Heroes played Spock and was suitably broody and logical (even if I did expect him to wave his finger at Kirk and start to trace a line of blood across his forehead ... a little Heroes reference there for the initiated). The effects were awesome, with so many magnificent crowd-pleasing sequences on show. To pick just two: the sight of Vulcan imploding into a black hole was jaw dropping, and I loved, just loved the shot of the Enterprise rising up above the atmosphere of Titan like some sort of submerged behomoth hoving into view. The film managed to play with the emotions maginificently as well, eliciting tears in the pre-credits sequence - and any film that can bring you to tears in less than ten minutes is doing something right! But it then handled the comedy well, with Kirk's inflated hands and tongue, as well as his chase by the plant-monster-thing on the ice planet. Of note in all this is the sequence with Scottie in the water tube - a nicely handled piece of sctick which ended, predictably with Scottie being saved. The plot was well worked out (Doctor Who take note), playing with time in a way which got the brain cells working overtime. I adored the sequence near the end where Nero's ship is being destroyed on one side of the black hole in the sequence at the start of the film, while simultaneously being sucked into itself at the end of the film. Lovely stuff. Nero himself was suitably loony, but perhaps was also the weakest character as although he talked a lot, we never really saw what was driving him apart from his insane desire for revenge at any cost. Overall it's a rollicking two hours, which pass like lightning and which never drags. A brilliant way to revisit and reinvent the series, setting it up for more films, and along the way, by means of the cunning 'alternate time line' conceit, avoiding problems with the hard core fans of maintaining continuity with the original series. Truly a magnificent achievement.

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