Posts Tagged ‘simon pegg

12
May
09

Movie Review: Star Trek

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Rebooting… the Final Frontier

Stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg. Directed by J.J. Abrams

This ain’t your daddy’s “Star Trek.”

“Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams was given a somewhat unenviable task: resurrect “Star Trek” for the “next generation” of moviegoers. And he did just that. Straddling a line between “trekkies” and casual scifi film enthusiasts, “Star Trek” has gone hyper-frenetic and action-packed. It is as much “Star Trek” as it is a Hollywood blockbuster and for this franchise, that’s a good thing.

“Star Trek” has its followers rooted in a world set forth by ten movies, six TV series, books, etc. Those who know “Trek” KNOW “Trek.” And there’s the social messages: pay attention to the environment (“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”), watch for political conspiracies (“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”), technology becomes God (“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), keep your enemies closer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and Shatner can’t direct (“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”) The “Next Generation” cast did what they could (four movies) but didn’t have the same gravitas as the original series. With Picard and Co. bowing out after “Nemesis,” the big question was: what happens now?

The story rests on a premise that could itself be a fan fiction novel: what if a Romulan named Nero (played by Eric Bana) watched the planet Romulus become a black hole and upon revenging said event travels back in time 129 years? And in doing so George Kirk, father of future captain James T. Kirk, gives his life so his son has a future and thus creates an alternate reality? That’s the premise going on.

And that’s how Abrams plays it safe; instead of altering the actual past of characters beloved by many, you subvert them by changing/tweaking their pasts for your own purposes and through a big “what if” and go from there. Abrams boldly went there and it pays off, but not without a whiff of being “highly illogical.”

I’m going to interject for a moment: I usually hate it when “Star Trek” decides to lean on time travel to get its story across. Yes, I enjoyed “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And I know everyone loved Kirk and the Gang going back in time to save the whales in “Star Trek IV,” but the entire franchise has done time travel to death. Sometimes I wonder if there just aren’t enough alien races for the Federation to start shit with.

Back to the story. Kirk grows up to be rebellious as shown in the scene where he drives his step-dad’s Corvette off a cliff. Years later he gets in a bar fight with some Starfleet Cadets and is saved by Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood). Pike recognizes Kirk’s potential and challenges him to join Starfleet Academy which he accepts. On the shuttle trip he meets Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), a man joining Starfleet only because his wife took everything he owned except his “bones.”

Meanwhile on the planet Vulcan there’s a different rebel with cause: Spock (Quinto). Born to a Vulcan father and human mother, Spock is considered a liability due to his half-breed nature. Upon acceptance into the Vulcan Academy he instead chooses Starfleet and upsets the council elders. While at Starfleet he becomes a mentor to Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and develops an attachment to her.

When Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru simulation and fails the second time, he reprograms it and wins. This causes friction between him and its programmer Commander Spock and he quickly finds himself restricted from duty. McCoy, taking some pity, stows Kirk away on the Enterprise as its maiden voyage  is to answer a distress call (the objective of EVERY “Star Trek” movie) from the planet Vulcan. Once there the seven other starships arrived before them are being systematically destroyed by Nero who is planning on creating a black hole using Vulcan. Nero takes Pike hostage and the Enterprise’s attempt to save Vulcan has its complications, leaving Spock and Kirk to fight over command and what should be done to save Earth and the rest of the Federation.

I may have already told you too much.

That’s the crux of this movie. Sure, Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock (again, the time traveling stuff) and we get to see how Scotty got recruited by the Enterprise. This movie is as much about it’s “what if” premise as it is an “origins” movie, and that’s not entirely bad. Karl Urban is great as McCoy, Pegg offers an interesting Scotty, Saldana is a hotter Uhura, Quinto is a formidable Spock, Cho gives Sulu more than sitting at the helm and Pine is the best Kirk we got. As far as how close to Chris Pine plays Shatner’s “Captain Kirk,” I think he gives him a degree of 21st century impulsiveness mixed with action and thought. He doesn’t have Shatner’s stilted dialog however he does pick up its cadence on occasion.

The main objective Abrams seems to display with “Star Trek” is for it not to be exclusive to its environment or fanbase. This movie is more “mainstream” than the other “Treks” and as I’ve said before that’s not a bad thing. And yes being a product from the guy who created “Lost” means that for the most part you gotta let this puppy play out; don’t try understanding it from fear that it will all unravel and you’ll walk out of the theatre with a massive headache.

Why should you watch it? First, to cure your curiosity. If that doesn’t suit you reason #2: the special effects. This is stuff-blowin’-up, fist-punching, breathtaking action-adventure at its best. Even if you hate the storyline it’s worth the effects alone. Lastly, it’s one of the best blockbusters in a while. 2008’s “Iron Man” was the popcorn blockbuster everyone was waiting for and this year that crown goes to “Star Trek.”

Let me also give credit to the music. Michael Giacchino, who also did the music for “Alias” and “Lost,” does a great job of mixing cinematic orchestration with music that sounds like it came straight from the 60’s series. I was really impressed with that.

Great effects, action sequences, and overall fun. It may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it’s the greatest “Star Trek” movie ever made.

My grade: B+

 

The Trailer:

And for some fun, check out this piece from The Onion:

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24
Nov
08

Movie News and Views Nov. 24, 2008 Poster Edition

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–          Warner Bros. Studios is pushing for a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger.

         Clint Eastwood has now retired from acting at the age of 78. His upcoming movie, “Gran Turino,” will be the last time he will be seen acting. However, he has no plans on quitting directing.

         And Clint Eastwood isn’t the actor “throwing in the towel.” Joaquin Phoenix has quit acting in order to pursue music. Possibly joining him are Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie.

         A sequel to this past weekend’s vampire chick-flick cash-cow “Twilight” is currently under development.

         “Ace Ventura 3” has gone straight-to-DVD.

         Fox Searchlight has picked up the rights for an “Arrested Development” movie.

         “Get Smart 2” will start shooting next year.

         Universal Pictures has bought the rights to all future “Bourne” novels. I wonder how “The Bourne Ad Nauseum” will do.

         “Kung Fu Panda” director is helmed to direct a “He-Man” movie. By the power of Grayskull!

         “Tremors 5.” How many of you have been waiting for that?

         “The Nutty Professor 3” currently in development. No word on Eddie Murphy being involved.

         An addition to the “Meet the Parents/Fockers” franchise, called “Little Fockers,” is currently in development.

         Watch out for a “RoboTech” movie.

         The third “Narnia” film has NOT been greenlit. What’s up?

         Michael Moore’s next movie will be about the economy.

         Brett Ratner will be working on a “Conan the Barbarian” movie, but not before “Beverly Hills Cop 4.”

         Ridley Scott is rumored to produce/ direct the new “Monopoly” movie. I wonder if he passes “Go,” will he collect $200 million?

         “Deep Throat” porn director Gerard Damiano died on October 25th at the age of 80.

         Speaking of porn, GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin was offered $2 million to appear in a porn movie. She is also the “subject” of the film, “Nailin’ Palin.”

         Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will be re-teaming for the comedy, “Paul,” about two British slackers who go to Comic Con and take a trip out to Area 51 where they meet the title alien and have to help him get home.

         Broken Lizards and the Counting Crows are teaming up on a movie called “Freeloaders.”

         Chevy Chase will be in a movie about spoofing spoof movies called, “Not Another Not Another Movie.”

         Animated TV show “King of the Hill” is looking to be courted by ABC.

 

 

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