Saturday, May 09, 2009
I haven't had a reason to post any new blogs in over a year, but now I came upon one. There's no simple way of saying this, I know it flies in the face of how most people seem to feel, but...
...I didn't like the new Star Trek movie.
In fact I found it shockingly bad, and I'm still sitting in wonder as to how it has garnered so many good reviews. So I thought I would post a review of my own. But first I should warn you if you have not seen the movie yet, my review WILL BE FILLED WITH SPOILERS!!! So if you don't want me to ruin the movie for you, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!!! But I assure you, J.J. Abrams and company have already ruined it.
First off, adapting any pre-existing property is a lot like cooking using someone else's recipe, and for something as old as Star Trek, it's a very complicated recipe. So what J.J. Abrams and company did was decide to make dinner, and ignore some of the ingredients. Kind of like they said, "Hey, lets make apple pie like Grandma used to make! Let's get some apples and put them in a frozen pie crust we got from the store, and voila! Apple pie!" (But unless you follow Grandma's recipe, it won't be the same). So in part, I think the writers were totally unaware of many of the ingredients that made Star Trek the phenomenon it has become. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised since the people who wrote this, were the same that gave us the two Transformers movies. Yeah, I hear academy awards coming. Real classics.
Last chance to avoid SPOILERS!!
Okay first off there was no point to the movie. It's just a lame revenge plot. Hell, so was Wrath of Khan, but it was mostly about the crew aging, and it was about how "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Since the very beginning, Star Trek was about something. On a weekly basis the original series broke new ground, and was so daring that they came to the brink of cancelation on a weekly basis because of the subject matter they dealt with. The later series, as much as I disliked all of them for not taking on today's touchy subjects, were still about something! It was a 'weak tea' message, but it was still there nonetheless. It is that key ingredient that has kept Star Trek alive for decades, to take that 'ingredient' away is just plain stupid. It's like having a pizza without the cheese!
So, maybe I missed something, and maybe someone can correct me on this, but Nero goes back in time to kill Spock, only to realize that he's appeared 25 years too early. How does he know this? How does he know that Spock will appear in 25 years? Is time travel that predictable?
Oh, and everyone knows at this point that a Black Hole is not a time tunnel, it's a giant cosmic trash compactor. It just sucks things in and crushes it. The time travel/dimensional door crap is stuff they thought up over 30 years ago, so I guess they never heard of a guy named Stephen Hawking? Did a bit of work on Black Holes? Good stuff? No?
So Spock accidentally destroys the Romulan homeworld. He mentions it in a very brief flashback/mind meld. Okay, we've had a Romulan homeworld for 40 years. In the Star Trek world, it's like a major character, then J.J. just had it destroyed, practically off screen. If you are going to do something major, like destroy a whole planet that has been part of a story for 40 years, at least spend some time to give it the impact it deserves. But J.J. deals with it like a plot devise, as if he has no respect for the material or the world he's working in. Has he never told a story before? I know this, and I've never directed a big budget hollywood movie!
Now the cinematography was appalling. Every shot was shaking, as if the camera operator had cerebral palsy, or maybe the camera was in a paint shaker. Now there are times when shaking the camera is important to do. Obscuring the image is sometimes a necessary tool in the directors bag of tricks, BUT IT IS ONLY ONE OF THEM!! If you keep using the same ones over and over and over again, it gets stale. When it comes to the shaky-cam, it gets downright annoying, because when the camera shakes, you can't see what you're looking at! The motion blur prevents this. To make it worse, all the shots were too close, so that if you aren't watching this on a TV screen, you can barely see what's going on. Oh, sure you know that Kirk just punched that Romulan. but how did he do it? I don't know, I just saw some movement. Remember back when they had cool fights in movies where the actors and stunt people had moves that made you go, "cool!" But here you can't see what they're doing. It's like they choreographed all the fights in a lame way, and the actors physical abilities were piss-poor, so they just shot it in close to hide the ineptitude.
How about the use of lens flare! Wow I loved how 25% of the movie was a blank white screen because of all the lens flare. Save your money folks, just flash a light in your eyes, and you'll know what it was like to watch the new Star Trek. Maybe J.J. Abrams was hoping that all the lens flare, and camera shaking would hide how shitty his movie was.
Okay, the engineering room looked like a boiler room, I shit you not. It's like, even though they had a budget of $150 million, they decided to save money by not building a set, but do what every low budget sci-fi movie does and head to the water treatment plant to shoot, and pretend it's a spaceship. Also there's no visible reactor in this Enterprise, but we get a mile of water pipes! What the fuck does the Enterprise have water pipes for??? Water pipes? On a spaceship???
There's a part where the writers have obviously written themselves into a corner, because they have Spock Captaining the ship, when they really need to get Kirk in command, so this is how they do it. Spock has just watched the planet Vulcan get destroyed, along with his mom (Yeah they really have respect for the subject matter. Not only do they blast Romulous to bits off screen, but they destroy Vulcan and Spocks mom too. Just for the fun of it I guess), so Spock is naturally upset, so what Kirk has to do is taunt Spock until he gets his ass kicked by an enraged Spock, and then jump up and down shouting, "You see! He's emotionally compromised! He can't be Captain! Give me the big chair!!" I'm sorry, but if I just watched someone's home world get destroyed, along with his Mom, and some jackass comes along to taunt him. I'd be helping to hold that said jackass down while he gets a beating, to say nothing of giving the jackass the top spot. Maybe I'm way off base here, but I don't think real people act that way. Sociopaths, maybe, but do most of us? Really???
Okay, and at the end, when Nero's ship is about to blow up, and Kirk says I'll save your life, to which Nero replies "No! I'd rather die!" So Kirk says, "Okay! fire!" I'm sorry, but even in Star Trek 3, 10 minutes after Commander Kruge has just killed Kirk's only son, he still tries to save Kruge's life by pulling him away from the cliff. If they took Kirk's character seriously, he wouldn't have given Nero a choice, he would have just pulled him out to safety and placed him in jail. It would have made Nero more angry, and given Kirk a more satisfying revenge. So the nobility and morality that has been a part of Star Trek for 40 years was seen to be stale and out-of-touch for today's audience?
But that is part of the problem with what they did with Star Trek. It's like sugar water. It's a formulaic movie that's only goal is to provide instant gratification. You get your hit, and then in seconds it's over. I guarantee you, this movie will be forgotten in a few years. The day after you see it, you won't be still talking about it, because there is no depth to it. There is no way it will be a lasting draw to the coffers of Paramount the way the other Trek films were, and still are.
Star Trek was long overdue for a revamping, but the messages it told about our lives, society, and science was not the problem. The problem was bad writing, inept producing, uninspiring casting, and weak characters. But it seemed to J.J. Abrams that the problem was the Star Trek world itself, so he changed it. No that's not true, he ignorantly picked it up, and kicked it out the window. Abrams has admitted many times that he never liked Star Trek. So why did he get the job?
So sadly we've had Lucas screw up Star Wars with the unholy prequels. Lucas AND Speilberg vomit all over Indiana Jones, and now we've had J.J. Abrams shit all over Star Trek. What other lasting film/tv series will be ruined yet, I wonder?