Thought Vomit #26: ft. Star Trek

There are very few cinematic action movies these days. When the odd one does crop up, it invariably has Steven Spielberg’s name on it, so it’s nice when you get to see a truly cinematic action epic.

Star Trek is brill.

And not just because it doesn’t disappoint, in the way most summer films do. It is a proper good film that needs to be seen in the cinema. There is a massive sense of scale in it, from the cavernous and well populated bowels of the Enterprise, right out into the depths of space. I think it’s also some of the best work that ILM has ever done. To make something as iconic and recognisable as the Enterprise actually look REAL is an amazing feat, and whoever supervised the visual effects (I presume it was JJ Abrams) really knows how to use the virtual camera in fresh and amazing ways.

I actually bounced in my seat like a four year old when the ship looms up from inside a dust cloud.

Abrams can use his real life camera to great effect too. I’ve never been quite so enamoured by lens flares before, so if you know how he achieved those, let me know. He also doesn’t fall into the trap of equating frenetic editing with frenetic action, allowing the sequences space to breathe, and again finding some refreshing camera angles.

Full disclosure: Captain Kirk has been my hero since I can remember, and I didn’t think that anyone could fill Shatner’s boots. But amazingly, Chris Pine IS Captain Kirk. Not a stupid impression of him, or a bad homage to him, he is actually Captain Kirk.

The film isn’t without its flaws, not least the lack of time spent on the main triumvirate. Hopefully that will develop in the next instalment, because I liked the guy playing Bones a lot. That said, Zachary Quinto wasn’t quite Spock for me; he seemed to smirk a bit too much. Uhura was under-written and Chekov over-written. These are pretty minor quibbles because the film was just damn good fun.

Star Trek is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and at its worst when it does. In this case, it’s the former, with Simon Pegg’s turn as Scotty well worth the wait. Liberal lacings of humour helped too, in a way that a lot of contemporary action films don’t manage. It also helped that the script didn’t seem hell bent on following that twunt Sid Field’s screenwriting structure to the letter. It has all the best elements of story-telling, nicely tucked away so as not to scream for attention. They also did themselves some favours to protect against the movie goof crowd (But I won’t add any spoilers).

It’s not bland and instantly forgettable the way Batman Begins was, nor is it as hopelessly crap a retelling as Bond has been.

So, all in all, it does what a good summer blockbuster should do. It made me grin ear to ear, and want to come home and build my own spaceship. Plus Kirk swears.

Brilliant.

7 thoughts on “Thought Vomit #26: ft. Star Trek

  • May 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm
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    Good review. I disagree about Chekov: I thought it was good that some of the minor characters were given quirks and abilities whereas Classic Trek didn’t bother. In the original Sulu, Chekov and Uhuru were there as tokens of internationalism and little else. I like what you said about frenetic action not being the same as frenetic editing. Quantum of Solace was let down by choppy editing so that the action sequences weren’t exciting, just confusing. I said this to a cameraman friend of mine who replied that I hadn’t appreciated this ” superior form of film making”. I’m glad someone else saw through the emperor’s clothes.

  • May 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm
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    I agree that the peripheral characters were underwriiten in classic Trek, but this time round Chekov had one too many scenes for me – but as I said, it’s such a minor quibble. I’d rather have had an extra scene with Scotty, or preferably one more between Bones and Spock, which after all is a more central relationship.

    I also liked that there was no pat resolution to the time travel story, with everything going back to normal.

    Frenetic editing, when done right, is something you *shouldn’t* notice. It should drag you into the action, not divorce you from it. Bourne did it right, the Bonds didn’t. I like to see my action sequences, not get tricked into them by disorientation. And simply labelling it gritty because of that crappy cutting is a lazy cheat.

  • May 14, 2009 at 10:37 pm
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    Seems I’ve got to see this one in the cinema too, that review is pretty much just a giant ‘go see it Kjell, you’ll love it’

  • May 15, 2009 at 12:30 am
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    I may have got carried away, but I don’t think so.

    And it’s great to know how much effort went into the flares, because it was worth it (so thanks for the link Jon). I hadn’t realised how much I was missing genuine (as opposed to CG) len flares, and it’s hard to know why they add so much to a sequence. Take for example John McClane on the rooftop with flares popping all around him in Die Hard.

  • May 15, 2009 at 1:24 am
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    I’m not sure watching the film at the cinema in Kerikeri will really do it any justice. It’s the equivalent of watching a film at Armstrong hall. That and the fact it will be 2015 by the time it’s on show.

  • May 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm
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    I agree, I was so worried that they’d mess it up but they didn’t. It’s the first time in years that I’ve been to the cinema and felt a community feel with the audience. I almost appluaded at the end. We felt there was *something* missing when we came out and I think it was that the Romulans were speaking English to each other and it would have been much better to have them speaking Romulan with subtitles (like the good old Klingons).

    I recon the next one will involve a Klingon encounter :o)

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