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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The new Star Trek: not as awesome as you think it is
A 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Better critical reviews than The Dark Knight? For this? You can't be serious.
I saw Star Trek last Friday at the 11 PM screening at the Broadway Metroplex. I was with a group of people so drunk on absinthe that 2/3s of them had passed out before Old Spock even showed up on the screen. I left the theater feeling like either I had missed something or J.J. Abrams had missed something. I was willing to give the movie a second shot so I went to see it again on Sunday (my mom's a Trek nerd from way back and dammed if her kids weren't going to take her to see this thing on Mothers Day). This 21st century Trek was better the second time around but I was still left thinking, "is this pap really worth such universal praise?"
So here's a few of the reasons why this new, improved brand of Star Trek is only marginally more watchable than, say, Wolverine.
1. It Suffers From Bay-ifacation For worse or even worse, Michael Bay has forever left his mark on summer blockbusters. It's all but impossible to throw away $10 on a movie ticket between May 1st and Labor Day without being subjected to two hours of over-edited, shaky-cam action sequences drained of drama and actors rushing through their dialog like they're running late to meet their coke dealer. Star Trek plays like it's on fast-forward.
2. No, Really, All the Action Sequences Sucked A tepid fist fight in a bar, a boring fist fight on an intergalactic drill, a brief fist fight between Kirk and Spock, a lame tentacle fight between two ice monsters and a banal fist fight between Kirk and a few Romulans. Did I miss anything?
3. It's Not Star Trek: OK, so I've seen one episode of the original show and I haven't seen any of the movies besides Wrath of Kahn and The Undiscovered Country since I was 14. Still, even I know the vital ingredients that make up the best series in this beloved sci-fi franchise: sermonizing, a sense of awe and Captain Kirk being a cocky mofo. Instead of philosophical plot lines about the future of humanity, we're left with a pointless Spock/Uhura/Kirk love triangle and Scotty's adorable alien coworker. There's a gorgeous shot of the Enterprise blasting out of a black hole in the last ten minutes that lasts a grand total of three seconds. The old Trek movies spent no less than half of their running times just getting the ship out of the damn spaceport, whacking the audience over the head with just how marvelous the model looked. And Kirk? Instead of being a badass he spends the entire movie getting his ass kicked badly. Future subordinates, Uhura, Spock, Romulans, ice monsters...is there anyone in the movie that doesn't roundhouse punch him at some point? This is the same ballsy captain that goes on to drop kick a humpback whale at the age of 53 after time traveling? William Shatner did fight a whale in the fourth movie, right? I can't remember. It's been a long time.
4. The bad guy sucks: Eric Bana's Nero gets a grand total of five minutes of screen time and doesn't get to quote Herman Melville even once. In the new Star Trek, revenge is a dish best served lukewarm.
5. The Enterprise Looks the Inside of a Cartoon Coffee Maker: It's all sleek plastic surfaces and florescent tubes. Is this thing a starship capable of withstanding photon torpedoes in the depths of space or something that should be filled with Folgers Crystals?
6. Of All the Things That Were Changed Uhura's Go-Go Boots Weren't One of Them: Those things can't be standard-issue for Starfleet lieutenants.
7. Industrial Light and Magic Did The Special Effects: And when was the last time they had anything to do with a watchable science fiction movie? That's right, George Lucas' taint has helped ruin a second big-budget relaunch.
Bring on Night at the Museum 2! Now there's a summer blockbuster.