Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Star Trek

I saw the new Star Trek last night. I think The Wrath of Khan (1982) is still the best, but this comes in a very close second. The battles in the new film were some of the best, nearly on par with Khan. The modern CGI was used to great effect, without overshadowing the story or characters.

By far the best part of the movie was the cast. Two major roles, McCoy and Spock, were aptly filled by Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto. Urban channels DeForest Kelley without even trying. Quinto, in addition to looking like Nimoy, brought a fierceness to Spock I liked. Zoë Saldana was adorable as Uhura. Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead gives comic relief as Scotty (though I didn't care for his assistant, which was too reminiscent of the ridiculous Ewoks). Of course, no actor could reprise the original role better than Leonard Nimoy.

Chris Pine makes a completely different Kirk than William Shatner's, which is good in this case. I realize a lot of people don't like Shatner, but I appreciate that he's so quick to make fun of himself...and you just have to love a guy who'll do this.

My only disappointment was with the villain, Nero. Eric Bana had very little screen time--especially compared to Ricardo Montalbán, who was such a commanding presence for much of the second Star Trek movie. And, while the audience could feel the pain of Khan, and to understand what drove him, Nero is quiet and brooding, and his excuse for doing what he does is absurd.

The commercials say, "This is not your father's Star Trek." That's a bit of a backhanded slap at us geeky dads, but it's true. More specifically, it's not campy like the original series, nor is it covered in the increasingly silly politically correct utopian nonsense of later series. This future world is technologically advanced, but not sanitized. There is visible chaos when Star Fleet is mobilized, which strikes me as being more realistic than the more simplistic situations in previous movies and episodes, where the extras are more like stage props than real people. Being such a character-driven story, the chaos works quite well to make this an enjoyable film.

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