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May 13, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Star Trek

Can you hear them coming? Are you ready for them to piss you off, to be the proverbial turds in the punchbowls? Yes, the Star Trek haters will be here soon, crapping all over your reasons why it's a great reboot to what had been a dead franchise. And you know what? To borrow a line from Total Recall's Cohaagen, you're f*$#ing making it happen!

If you'd like to avoid the practically-inevitable backlash, stop telling everyone how good the movie is - how it's a perfect blending of something old, new, borrowed and blue (by which I mean Spock's uniform, of course). Stop telling them that it's funny and exciting, how the Trekkies and/or Trekkers are weeping with joy at all of the in-jokes and winks that J.J. Abrams and his writers made for them, and how it is that a 78-year old man takes what was already a good movie and makes it great merely by showing up. And by all means, don't tell them that they "have to see it right now!"

No, the proper tactic is of course to downplay the film's success. Tell them that "It's pretty good - better than most of the crap out there right now but nothing worth writing home about." Tell them that the effects looked "okay, but needed some work" or that "Abrams makes it a little too LOSTy...but you might want to see it if you like that show." Certainly don't tell them to go to Rotten Tomatoes, where they're be able to see the 95% Fresh rating that it's sporting, or to IMDb to see the 8.6/10 rating it's got. Tell them anything but the truth - it can only serve to help us all in the long run.

To do my part, I'm going to put on my nitpicking hat (some big nits, some very small nits) and do my best to point out as many of the bad things I can think of with Star Trek, just to hopefully take away some of the ammunition that the haters may bring. If I can, at the same time, somehow dampen expectations for those who haven't seen it yet - well, that's just a win-win scenario, isn't it?

It should go without saying that some SPOILERZ follow below:

* I can't say that I've read a ton of reviews for Star Trek just yet, but I have yet to see a comparison to a film that it sure seems to owe a bit to. That's right - the Casper Van Dien vehicle Starship Troopers. And not just because they each begin with "star_ tr_." Think about it - young, dumb, full of *ahem* go-getter leaves brightly colored future town on the heels of advice from veteran soldier to take his place in space. Gets there and almost immediately becomes the leader of his team, becoming right-hand man to said veteran by virtue of doing almost nothing. Um - are there not tens of thousands of people on the Enterprise? Why is a green cadet being made first officer?

Not that I consider a comparison to be a bad thing, per se; hell, I love that cornball flick. But it kind of is a bad thing.

* For LOST viewers: Spock = Faraday? Seriously, Abrams - you're stealing plot lines for Star Trek directly from LOST, or is it the other way around?

* Typically, action movies are only as good as their villains. Not so the case here. Eric Bana's pissed off Romulan isn't terrible, but he's not developed all that much and frankly, he's just not all that memorable. He didn't hurt the film, but he didn't really help it, either. It felt like a role that had been shot in two weeks.

* It's a shame that the only two examples I can cite of this off the top of my head are both minority characters, but I have to say that the casting of Tyler Perry as some sort of judge/authority figure was distracting (the other example would be Sam Jackson in the first Star Wars prequel). For such a non-role, couldn't it have just as easily been an unrecognizable face? He's just so tied to his work that, in a film like this, he really takes you out of it.

* I won't go as far as to say that the action sequences were nauseating on the level of a Cloverfield or Blair Witch (they weren't even really "shaky cammy"), but there certainly needed to be some better editing going on there. Aside from a nice medium panning shot of John Cho and Chris Pine fighting on the drill, it seemed as though we were never given more than a 2-second shot of whatever action was taking place, and even the longer ones felt hand-held.

* Taken from my friend Alex (aka commentor Nic Cage), the "scary monster chases Kirk on ice planet, only to be swatted away by bigger monster who will now chase Kirk" sequence was wildly unnecessary, and too reminiscent of a similar scene in The Phantom Menace when our heroes were being chased (albeit underwater) by monsters who ate each other. Also, as Mrs. Fletch pointed out, the second, larger animal would not survive on an ice planet - it had no fur/protective coating.

* The music. It's nonstop, too loud, in your face, and cues you what to think/feel as much as it can. Lots of times, I barely notice the score in an action flick; here, it was bugging me.

* Finally...Ok, I understand that it's a mining ship. And that it's been "out there" for 25 years, presumably losing some, if not many, of its members. But exactly how many Romulans were on that ship of theirs? 12? Because it sure seemed easy for Kirk and Spock to just breeze in there and do whatever the hell they wanted.

So that's my contribution to the anti-backlash campaign. Now stop fawning all over it and get out there and do your part, too.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"It's in the hole!"

13 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Star Trek"

Nick said...

Of course, I disagree with a lot of your points. The only one I really agree with is Eric Bana's Nero. He wasn't good or bad, like you said... but he worked.

I didn't even realize Tyler Perry was in the movie.

I loved the music.

The action seemed fine.

I think the Starship Troopers/Daniel Faraday nitpicks are too much of a stretch... almost like you were digging for more nitpicks.

Craig said...

This movie was sick, and I'm a non trekkie fan. This movie had everything you could want and really hit it right. Awesome film, one of the best if not the best of the summer.

Fletch said...

Missing the point? ;)

Hey, I can't help it if I'm finely tuned into the pop culture stratosphere and Tyler Perry's appearance jars me. It would be like seeing David Letterman showed up as a random character.

I was dead serious with the music one. It was annoying at times.

I'm nitpicking with the action one, to be sure. But that's not to say it couldn't have been done better. That's a sympton of just about any action movie of the last 15 years. I blame MTV. It's my main gripe with Transformers, The Incredible Hulk, ....

The Starship Troopers one isn't really a nitpick - more of a brilliant observation. Seriously, though, you don't think his ascension from cadet to Captain is reminiscent at all of Johnny Rico's?

Aside from the general logic there, I think about the size of those ships and think, shit, if I were one of those veteran soldiers that had been serving my time for 10-15 years trying to get a promotion and this hot shit Kirk guy came in and made Captain in 20 minutes...I'd be friggin' pissed.

Nick said...

Well, it was hard to discern what you meant seriously and what was as a joke based on the opening of the review :P . I couldn't tell if these were seriously your opinions or you were just saying these things as a joke to dumb down the hype surrounding the film.

And Kirk made captain after 3 years... but I understand your hyperbole. Clearly, it was an act of nepotism... or something like that. Or being damn impressed that he beat and/or found a way to cheat at Spock's test.

Fletch said...

I mean all of them seriously - they are all issues that I had with the film (albeit mostly very minor issues); the point was to only concentrate on those things and not on what made it good, since it's getting enough good press as it is.

Kano said...

I understand what you were doing here, but I think you should have also stated what you enjoyed - I mean you gave it an 'Excellent' grade and we aren't seeing what you liked.

Obviously, you can basically nitpick about any movie made (especially nowadays) and obviously some concessions are made to make the movie flow and for things to fit easier (like Spock being on the same planet, and the same cave that Kirk went in), but it didn't really take away from the overall film.

Also, and this is just what I have read, I heard there was a whole other scene involving Nero - one that takes him to Rura Penta (no idea the spelling, but it's the Klingon prison that Kirk and McCoy go to in Star Trek VI), and actually that is where he lost part of his ear. I am hoping it is in the extended cut of the film, it may flesh out his character more - but I think they were going for a certain amount of time for the film.

Despite all of you nitpicks, I haven't been this impressed by a film in a long time - I left the theater literally thinking when I could see it again, and that has happened in a long time. So it worked for me.

Fletch said...

"I understand what you were doing here, but I think you should have also stated what you enjoyed - I mean you gave it an 'Excellent' grade and we aren't seeing what you liked."

Two things here. First, re-read my second paragraph. It quickly goes over many things that I liked, it's just presented differently.

Second, the main reason I wrote the review in this way is because not only is this one of those films that everyone and their brother has seen and reviewed (which is already a natural deterrent to my writing a review - see Watchmen for an example), but everyone has THE SAME THINGS to say about it, by and large. It's received nearly universal acclaim, with just about everyone in the 4.0-4.5 out of 5 stars range, and they're all loving it for the same reasons (familiar enough to fans, accessible enough for noobies, fresh cast and updated look, Nimoy=awesome, effects better than any previous Star Trek, etc., etc.).

So, when I see something like that happen, I instinctively go another direction. I either do this to stand out from the pack, to challenge myself, or both. Probably both. I know I don't want to go read the same old thing from 20 different sources, and I hope my readers don't, either.

Though it seems as though I've disconnected with y'all this time. Won't be the last time, I'm sure.

David Bishop said...

I was wondering why a mining vessel was armed well enough to take out a whole fleet of ships.

Robb said...

I had a great time, no doubt. BUT. Spock and Uhura? I call incest! Gross out!

And I missed Tyler Perry, but what the heck was up with casting Winona? Why bury her in old-age makeup? I kept waiting for the flashback that would explain why they cast a young actress in what should be an older lady part. I didn't even care about Vulcan because I was sure they would just go back and erase everything.

Also, and I know Star Trek is full of bad time travel stories, but I hate time travel stories. I understand wanting to free yourself up to make changes and not have expectations, but what does this mean for Picard? MY BRAIN IS LEAKING OUT MY EAR.

Thomas Pluck said...

Even though I don't like Star Trek much- though I respect it- I'll probabyl end up seeing this cause the gal wants to. your nitpicks were what I expected, and it's more of a JJ Abrams thing than a Trek thing. I think he's a better idea man than a director, as evidenced by MI:III.

Fletch said...

David - Cause they have the "red matter," of course. It's like pixie dust mixed with fairy dust mixed with a nuclear bomb...with sprinkles...and 100x more powerful. Or something like that.

Robb - Of course I missed the other distracting casting decision, and it was right under my nose. But, to be honest, it was more of a delayed double take/recognition with Winona - saw her for a good ten seconds before realizing that was her under the old lady makeup.

Either way, though - yeah, kind of distracting and an odd choice. Maybe someone just thought she looked Vulcan.

Tommy - go see it. It's great fun!

I've not seen Alias, but from what I have seen of Abrams, MI3 seems to be the exception rather than the rule. And even though it sucked, it was still 100x better than John Woo's crappy second one. Besides, it had Phil Sey Hoff - how much can we hate it?

Reel Whore said...

I like your nitpick-spin on this. I agreed with a good number of your points. I pointed out the Ensign to Cap'n BS at the end of my post. Tyler Perry was a bit distracting, but not as much as the Cloverfield ice monster. I, like Mrs. Fletch wondered how a dark red scaly beast would be on that planet. The chase was completely frivolous. He could've passed out in the cold and Spock find him much more easily.

The fast action and pounding soundtrack didn't bug me too much. I hate I didn't mention the music over my way...

David Bishop said...

Speaking of the music, there are parts of the 'original' score that sound oddly reminiscent of Lost's main musical motif.