Star Trek [2009]

star_trek_casts

We here in the Fortress were unanimous on Karl Urban's performance as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.  Nicely written and well acted.  He (in blue) even has the look.

We here in the Fortress were unanimous on Karl Urban's performance as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Nicely written and well acted. He (in blue) even has the look. "Darn it Jim! I'm an actor not a doctor!"

The Fortress sees all from its Arctic perch.  We can view Star Trek from the everyman’s perspective as well as that of the Trekker.  Both are needed as this movie attempts to mainstream the longstanding franchise out of the depths of geekdom.

The famous (or infamous) Shatner "Get a Life!" skit from SNL.

The famous (or infamous) Shatner "Get a Life!" skit from SNL.

Doing a “reboot”, “re-envisioning”, “reimagining” — whatever they are calling it now, is a perilous tightrope where too far to either side alienates half your audience.  The adage, “if you are going to reimagine, go for it in a big way” is not true in these cases.  Film producers can further derail a franchise 45 years in the making easier than reinvigorating it.

"Did someone call for a franchise killer?"

"Did someone call for a franchise killer?"

So they gave Kirk a new origin.  The everyman does not care, and Trekkers may find it more fitting for Starfleet’s future all star.  However did they have to make young Kirk such a punk?  That whole car theft scene – trashing a beauty of a corvette and subjecting us to 90 seconds of musical carnage accomplished what exactly?

Kirk and the under construction Enterprise:  The ground-based dry dock made for some awesome visuals.

Kirk and the under construction Enterprise: The ground-based dry dock made for some awesome visuals. As you can see it was almost impossible to find this stealthy, secret construction facility.

Spock was altered the most, and in our opinion too far.  It undermined what the character is about.  Everyone always knew Spock may be sad underneath, but he could never show it and you sympathized and related to him.  It was a great counter balance to his superior strength and intellect.

Sure, you probably felt a little bad for boy Spock picked on in a logical manner by full Vulcan twerps.

Sure, you probably felt bad for boy Spock picked on in a logical manner by full Vulcan twerps.

Grown up Sylar...er, Spock was a jerk.

Grown up Sylar...er, Spock was a jerk.

There was little room to sympathize here.  He bullies and is arrogant.  He has a romantic relationship with Uhura that will throw many for a loop.  “Isn’t he a Vulcan?” those with even the slightest Trek knowledge may ask.  In the 45 years of Star Trek history, have we ever seen a Vulcan kiss much less steam it up scene after scene?

Dude!  Get a grip, or a (transporter) room.  Come on, for 45 years the private Vulcan's most intimate public gesture was the touching of a couple fingers.  This is a serious PDA.

Dude! Get a grip, or a (transporter) room. Come on, for 45 years the private Vulcan's most intimate public gesture was the touching of a couple fingers. This is a serious PDA.

The Enterprise was not immune to “reimagining”, but with such an iconic design (even to the less initiated) it was done in a way that did not burn the corneas of our Star Trek sensibilities.  We do not think all the new bumps and lights were necessary or added to the aesthetics, but the all import proportions were respected.

Some of the sectoins seem to jut out at ackward angles, the lower hull was made too busy int eh front.  Also honestly, of all the things they could have put on the front of the nacelles, they chose silver mirrored balls?

Some of the sections seem to jut out at awkward angles, the lower hull's front is busy, and the mirrored balls on the nacelles are -er, different. Is it better than the Enterprise of Star Trek: The Motion Picture? No. Is it at least fair to the franchise? Yes (more-or-less).

The space battles were dazzlingly rendered.  However this seemed to come at the price of clarity.  Making it pretty does not mean you are communicating what the heck is happening.  Everything became confusing pulses of flying light.  Star Trek’s two most iconic weapons – phasers and photon torpedoes – might just as well have been bundles of bottle rockets.

What is happening here?  I do not know.  Are those microscopic blue dots supposed to be phasers?

What is happening here? We do not know. Are those microscopic blue dots supposed to be phasers?

Back in the day when photon torpedoes meant something:  This shot from Star Trek: The Motion Picture shows those cool flare lines that were so visually fun and easy to track.

Back in the day when photon torpedoes meant something: This shot from Star Trek: The Motion Picture shows those cool flare lines that were so visually fun and easy to track.

Star_Trek_motion_picture_photon_torpedo

star_trek_motion_picture_photon_torpedo_2

The plot was classic Trek for better or worse, mostly the former.  One sentence synopsis?  A vengeful enemy from the future appears with a ginormously powerful ship with which he destroys an inhabited world, and only one man and his heroic band of freedom fighters…  oops, sorry -  only young Kirk, overly amorous Spock, and a new inexperienced crew stand between the destruction of its next target, Earth!

Chris Pine had the Kirk command chair poses down.

Chris Pine had the Kirk command chair poses down.

star-trek-inspirational-poster

To “mainstream” it the movie was also very un-Trek.  You may notice the lack of “technobable”.  There was barely a hint of “rerouting the power”, and not a single instance of “reversing the polarity”!

Now was there a single scene filmed in Vasquez Rocks with a guy dressed up in a rubber alien suit.  Scandalous!

Nor was there a single scene filmed in Vasquez Rocks with a guy dressed up in a rubber alien suit. Scandalous!

In a few places it felt like Star Trek was made by people who do not know the franchise.  The lack of green glows on the Romulan ship – heck, those guys hardly even looked Romulan.

Honestly, does this guy look very Romulan?

Honestly, does this guy look very Romulan?

Here Kirk himself demonstrates what a real Romulan looks like.

Here Kirk himself demonstrates what a real Romulan looks like.

It was entertaining.  However the time-traveling, continuity-wrecking story comes at a high price.  Trekkers will forever have to differentiate now between “original continuity” versus “Abram’s continuity”.  We suppose this gives him license to take Trek wherever he wants now, which was probably his plan from the start.

Bruce Greenwood did well as Capt. Pike.  It is nice to see that character unearthed from Star Trek lore.

Bruce Greenwood did well as Capt. Pike. It is nice to see that character unearthed from Trek lore.

It was great homage to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which is well regarded in the Fortress) in the area of the Admiral's uniforms.

It was great homage to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which is well regarded in the Fortress) regarding the Admiral's uniforms. (But where are the bald female Deltan crew members?)

Star_trek_deltan_ilia_peris _khambatta

Be careful for what you wish for J.J. Abrams.  The Star Trek franchise is sharp on both ends, and fans of any sort can be hard to please.

There is Pine pulling off the Shatner/Kirk command sit again.  The sets were so white and sterile that they reminded us of some space dental office.

Pine pulls off the Shatner/Kirk "command sit" again. We were glad to see blue come back as a prominent color. However, the sets were so white and sterile they reminded us of some space dental office. "Darn it Jim! I'm a doctor not a denti-, ...ah, never mind."