Sunday 24 July 2016

Review: Star Trek (2009 / second-pass)

Star Trek (2009 / second-pass)
Cert: 12A / 124 mins / Dir. J.J. Abrams / Trailer

Gotta love the triple-bill! As much as I enjoyed the 2009 reboot of Star Trek (which was in the days before I wrote about everything at the cinema), it strikes me as odd that tonight was only the second time I'd seen the film. Although this underlined the fact that I'd completely forgotten that Thor is Captain Kirk's dad (even though I somehow remembered that it's Bruce Banner who's driving the aggro-bus for this movie).

JJ Abrams Star Trek is essentially the textbook on how to retool and reinvigorate a long-running franchise, giving a baggage-free fresh start to new and casual audiences, whilst being respectful to both the series' tone and existing continuity (for the long-time fans who will be going to see it no matter what). There are still plenty of nods and in-jokes to the 'old' timeline, of course, but they're telegraphed enough that the civilian audience*1 doesn't feel excluded by them.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban are fantastic here, both individually and collectively with an instant chemistry that's perfect for the roles. Leonard Nimoy is a welcome addition of course, but he feels over-used by the time he whistles the closing lines of the movie. And Anton Yelchin's Checkov is irritating as hell. There, I said it*2. It's far more poignant watching him now, of course, but that's largely because I've seen him not be the "I know this!!" kid from Jurassic Park in his other work. Because if there's one hurdle the film can't clear, it's that long-established characters who aren't in 'the main three' are reduced to one-note extras here, and giving them their own little scene in which to shine only serves to underline that. Zoe Saldana's Uhura is similarly afflicted, getting a great introduction and set-up, then being stuck at the back of the set with little to do. But more on that later.

From a more technical standpoint, the amount of lens-flare on the bridge of the Enterprise now feels like a warning-shot for Into Darkness, and will someone please buy cinematographer Dan Mindel a tripod or two so he can keep the cameras in one place for an entire line of dialogue? But Michael Giacchino's magnificent score holds the whole thing together. In many ways, his main theme is more memorable than some of the underused characters.

But my nitpicking belies the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed Star Trek. It's an enormous amount of fun and a very robust space-adventure. And I say that as an honourable member of The Opposition.

Besides, Simon Pegg's presence alone means it's nice to watch a film where it's not Chris Hemsworth that's murdering a Scottish accent*3

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
It'd make a pretty good companion-piece to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
A moot question at this point but if you can, yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
No, but it's up there.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I believe so but I didn't catch it, so let's go with no.
Unless you know otherwise?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film's got the voice of Greg 'Snap Wexley' Grunberg from off of The Force Awakens in it. Oh, and R2-D2, as well.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
^^ The film itself is a very strong five, but Quinto gives it an extra point.

*1 Of which I am a member, let's be fair.

*2 I said it in 2009 and again in 2013. It'd be hypocritical of me to change tack now. It's nothing against Yelchin necessarily, just the characterisation, performance and way he's directed.

*3 Yeah, yeah. I know that James Doohan's accent in the original series was bad, but a shit joke about a shit joke is still a shit joke. Maybe Hemsworth and Pegg should star in an action-comedy about a couple of Glaswegian cops, sent on assignment to Los Angeles? Actually, I shouldn't even joke about that…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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