Saturday, July 26, 2014

On the Star Trek Reboot

A couple of quick notes: If you're looking for a blog that's all up to date on current culture and stuff, this is not the one for you. When it comes to the metaphorical cultural party, I tend to come late and leave early. Although I actually did see both the movies that I'm about to talk about when they were in theaters, I have no new information about the franchise and I'm not an expert. Oh yeah that's the other thing. I'm not a Trekkie. Like, at all. And I'm not really that into science fiction or space opera or spaceships or whatever. I just like movies, and I've watched Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Star Trek (2009) - yeah, in that order - in the last couple of weeks, and I have thoughts about them. That's all.

For the sake of you AR types (you know who you are) I'll go ahead and start with Star Trek. The 2009 reboot, not to be confused with the Original Motion Picture. One is a movie. The other is...um...how to put this delicately...forget it. The Original Motion Picture is crap. Making it was a waste of film and watching it was a waste of time. Two nights of my life I'll never get back. So from now on, for the purposes of this blog, we will do ourselves a favor and forget it was ever made. When I say "Star Trek" I'm talking about the movie. And it's a good one. It's funny and campy but big-budget and big-action enough that you almost don't notice unless you're actually paying attention and not distracted by all of J.J. Abrams' lens-glare-happy cinematography. It pulls what is, in my opinion, a really fun bait-and-switch where you think the hero of the film is one guy but in fact it's the other guy. In case that seems confusing, I'll clarify. And oh yeah, there are "spoilers" in the post because seriously, Star Trek is five years old and Into Darkness came out last year so at this point you've either seen them so the spoilers aren't spoilers or you haven't seen them and you don't care. And if that's the case, why are you still reading this? Anyway, there are all these character introductions and backstory and messing with the space-time continuum so it can get confusing and it's possible the movie is about Jim Kirk but Spock is the hero. So in that sense I suppose it's like other Star Trek movies of a bygone era. It's not "classic" Star Trek, whatever that means. In many ways it's much more like Star Wars, which is ironic for so many reasons. But the "fact" is, when you mess with the space-time continuum you get an alternate reality, and if you can't figure that out on your own the characters blatantly point it out for you (thank you, Spock and Uhura, for that one). I mean, if you're going to do a reboot, this is how to do it. Just mess with everything and reference everything else. And make it fun and beautiful. Who cares if it's full of clich├ęs and anomalies and plot holes and bad science? There are great lines and gorgeous effects and lens glare and come on, what more could you want? It's a good movie, not a great movie, but it's fun and there are some really great moments and it is absolutely beautiful on Blu-Ray.

Now on to Into Darkness, which is definitely my favorite of the two. In fact I'd rank it somewhere among my favorite movies ever. It's the total package. Great plot, great hero, two ugly villains, one who is really mean and nasty and one who is all complex and evil and awesome and stuff. It kind of pulls the bait-and-switch with the villain. (Hey, it's this guy. No wait, it's this other guy. No, it's definitely the first guy. Isn't it?) With most of the character introductions out of the way, you get right into the action, which almost never stops. I joke that I didn't breathe for two hours the first time I saw it. Oh and for the guys, you also get the token shot of a girl in her underwear. I don't know why this is essential but apparently it is. Anyway. It stands alone as a good movie, in my opinion, but it's also a great sequel. In Star Trek, Kirk thinks he knows everything and can handle any situation. In Into Darkness, he is forced into the realization that he doesn't and he can't. He can only do what he knows he can do, what he has to do. I love it when those moments happen for any character. I never liked Captain Kirk as a character before this movie. And don't even get me started on William Shatner. Ick. Into Darkness is the kind of movie I can watch lots and lots of times and enjoy it every time. That's the kind of movie I like best. Oh and there's plenty of lens glare in this one too, and it's also stunningly gorgeous on Blu-Ray.

So for any Trekkies out there who are still reading this, I apologize for my almost total ignorance and lack of respect for Star Trek canon. These movies are fantastic and I'd take them over any of the old ones, any cast, any day.

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