Monday, May 11, 2009

Guest Star Trek XI Reviewer: Lee

link to my first no-spoilers review
link to my updated with spoilers review (5-23-09)
link to mortmere's review (5-22-09)

My (Fresca's) favorite bit of Star Trek XI: Chekov (Anton Yelchin), who reminds me of Laika, above left, the Soviet space dog. (Though we hope he does not meet with her sad fate.)

Here, below, is a review from my fellow Classicist Lee. I don't agree with all of his points (I thought the Romulans' "giant serrated cuttlefish" ship was fun--sort of a relative of a parrot, and I'm partial to parrots), and I'd only give the movie a C-, to be nice, but in general I'm there.

Lee's Star Trek Review—in exactly 500 words!

Top-Ten Ups:

• Laughed my ass off
• Opening scene with Kirk’s family a tear-jerker
• Enterprise looks great on the outside
• Dude who plays Kirk nails it
• Get to see more of Uhura
• People playing “ethnic” characters can actually do the accents
• Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy: his first scene has the best lines in the movie
• Young Kirk and young Spock were great; their introductory scenes super
• Lots of clever jokes and references to old series and characters
• They wiped out the entire series—TV and movies—to start from scratch!

1st half of the movie: A+!
I was mesmerized!

Top-Ten Downs:

• Time travel: make it stop
• So frenetic it seemed choreographed by Jackson Pollock with a strobe light fetish
• New Uhura gets more air time than Old Uhura, but now her function is mainly sexual (albeit with a brainy, thin veneer)
• Inside of Enterprise is basically a brightly lit photo-shoot OR a series of tubes (Admiral Ted Stevens will be happy to see the future bear him out)
• Hell’s Angel Romulans flying around in giant serrated cuttlefish (also, they’re too young)
• Leonard Nimoy acting through his dentures
• Spock’s 15 minute Metamucil ad—I mean asinine echo-cloaked exposition
• More slander of alien animal species: why do they ALL have to run around screaming, trying to eat you, smashing through everything that gets in their path? Always?
• After hearing the ST proem at the end I wondered: when did seeking out new worlds and new civilizations become boring? When did action-adventure so completely take over? Maybe this is why I still harbor tender feelings for the Motionless Picture: at least it was trying to generate and sustain a sense of mystery and wonder.
• They wiped out the entire series—TV and movies—to start from scratch!

2nd half: C+
I was kinda wishing it would hurry up and end.

Final Grade: B+

The movie would almost certainly have been an A or even A+ if they’d kept to a manageable canvas and ejected all that bric-a-brac whose sole purpose was to create an excuse to make more movies without worrying about continuity. The first half was a real movie; the second an elaborate spin-off ejaculation-and-artificial-insemination program which, in its details, was fairly standard (contemporary) sci-fi issue. I would’ve preferred a single “how did they begin?” film that stayed focused on the characters, even at the cost of more movies.

Bonus quibble: Please stop almost destroying the Earth! It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

Bonus “up:” I loved the silent alien dude seated between Uhura and Kirk in Iowa. He looked like a sad-sack character having a rough day, trying to drown some sorrows (or extreme boredom) in a beer. I wonder what HIS story was? I HIGHLY recommend him for Re-Start Trek II: The Wrath of Big-Face Alien Dude. I just know he’s the villain we’ve all been waiting for.
[end Lee's review]


Lee said...

Regarding grades, yes, there is some grade inflation going on here. This is a "Star Trek B," the equivalent, perhaps, of a Gentleman's C. Thus, gentle readers, cum grano salis. :-)

(and great pictures!)

momo said...

I thought he looked like Tom Waits!
Great review, and I find I agree with many of your points, although like Fresca I kind of liked the claw/rosebush/cuttlefish ship!

Anonymous said...

Cut-and pasted bits of FRESCA and LEE's e-mails today.FRESCA (to Lee): The new Bones, in my esitmation, is better than the old one (heresy, I know, but I never liked him). Ditto Chekov though I like Walter Koenig, this new guy is terrific! "I can do that! I can do that!") and even Scotty was maybe better (but I'm extra partial to Simon Pegg---did you see his Brit TV show "Spaced"?)

LEE (To Fresca): I thought all three of those folks were good too. I just wish Karl Urban had been given more to do—he really is the third (albeit literally third) leg in the original Star Trek tripod.

FRESCA: I didn't think Chris Pine was Kirk but then, I'm in love with Shatner's Kirk. But he was OK. And at the end, he made that one pleasing little tribute to Shatner's body language.

LEE: The girly leg-crossing in the captain's chair perhaps??


LEE: I thought Pine made the role his own, though no one can (or should) try to replicate Shatner. But maybe they made him a bit too much of a hot-head, which seems over-doing the whole Kirk vs. Spock emotional-logical tension.

FRESCA (to LEE): I can't believe Nimoy takes a minute to destroy all of Vulcan philosophy through his false teeth: "Forget logic. Do what feels right." Excuse me??? Like, just cause the movie wiped out 6 billion Vulcans?

LEE (to Fresca): Man—good point. By that time in the movie I wasn't paying as much attention. But it sure seems that logic would be MORE required now than ever after having your home planet wiped out!
But beyond and above the illogic of this, it's a kind of betrayal of the Vulcan philosophy, which, if it's going to be meaningful, has to be presented as a potentially legitimate POV (or WOL—Way of Life) for it to become more than some societal or personal quirk.

FRESCA: It bugs me that Uhura goes from being the secretary to being the lover. Boo.
More importantly, I didn't, and don't, think giving Spock a girlfriend is a good idea. It removes the interest from his Vulcan/Human tension.

LEE: Very good point. I knew I didn't like it, but hadn't bothered wondering why. :-)

I thought Quinto did an okay job with what he had, but (a) he's not that great an actor; and (b) Nimoy was actually (IMO) by far the best actor on the original ST. You'd really need an equally good—or at least equally superior to the rest of the cast—actor to have made the present movie work. As it was, he was, at best, in the middle of the pack—not good enough for Spock!! Those are big ears to fill!!!

As for present-day Nimoy, I kept feeling sorry for him and wondering "why don't they let that poor old man go back to bed?" Nimoy's a wonderful actor and a great human being, but he's clearly too old now to play Spock: the old Spock-fire and centering energy and wit were just not there.

The [exposition in the middle of a movie] CAN be done well—as in The Fellowship of the Ring. But the big problem I had with this was that the exposition was just plain dumb. Just sounded like a bunch of crap somebody made up to tie together (however unbelievably) the different pieces of the plot.

About the dumbest thing for me was, the galaxy is maybe going to be destroyed by a star going supernova (how, now?) and so what do they do? Send out a geriatric, exhausted Spock in a tiny, unescorted spaceship carrying an ass-load of this "red matter" (clever!) that apparently is so powerful and so dangerous it can, if it falls in the wrong hands, lead to the destruction of Vulcan and Earth and who knows what else. How does this make sense?

FRESCA: Right! Hardly.
But I've already pretty much forgotten about this movie--there was so little to THINK about, except the whole compare/contrast. I actually ended up loving The Motion Picture, once it got edited for home viewing, because it wrestles with ideas. Wrestles in molasses, maybe, but wrestles. This movie just hangs off cliffs over and over again--we've seen that stunt a million times. ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.
The film was a rehash of a bunch of old Star Trek plots (Khan) + Star Wars and video games visuals. If it weren't Star Trek, I'd have had nothing to say about it.

LEE: Yeah, I was sitting with Faith afterward making fun of this: it's like they said, "so what were the best things from the best episodes and movies we could take and refit for the relaunch?
For example, killing Spock in The Wrath of Khan was great, but we can't really do that again, can we? But, wait, hey—let's just kill off the WHOLE PLANET of Vulcan! That's like killing Spock 6 billion times!!!"