Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Star Trek Premier

If you’re a Star Trek fan, stop reading. I figure the only people who are not going to like what I have to say are either normalised morons or fundamentalist Trekkies. While I have nothing to fear from the former, I don’t want a nerd junta called on the bloodline.

The latest Star Trek film intends to introduce us to the origin of Kirk (the aptly named Chris Pane) and does so with ludicrous pomp. His father is killed by an angry Romulan called Nero (Eric Bana) who has travelled in time to exert revenge on the Spock family. He does this with something called ‘red matter’ that looks like a huge snooker ball, which, when ignited, creates a singularity and sucks up planets. More like brown matter if you ask me.

Kirk joins the academy and through rashness, bad manners and the unrequited mercy of his colleagues, he ends up saving the day with as much charm as a gyrating frat boy. Despite Abrahms reputation as a character director, there’s more development in a teaspoon of yoghurt. Perhaps he was caged by the expectation of the fan base that were bound to ask for more than a fair helping of nostalgia. The result is that half the dialogue has been uttered before in some other off shoot, only better, while the other half dots together the usual bland, Star Trek fisticuffs. Every action sequence includes Kirk dangling over a precipice. It happens so many times you wonder if Abrahms really understands the term ‘cliff-hanger’.

There are unnecessary CGI monsters, flawed motivations, flat fellowships and wooden deliveries. The cast is weak and confusing. Why is Winona Rider playing Spock’s mother? She has three lines in the film of no logical consequence. All she adds to the movie is budget. In fact, the whole film seems like a gifted medium to blow cash. The special effects were incredible, but most of them were choppy and meaningless, like the whole of Transformers. It was like an office stooge dressed in tinfoil on no-uniform Friday. Sparkly yes, but essentially expendable.

However, despite the flaws, there were moments of glory. The set design was lovely with great homage paid to the oldtech style of the 60s Enterprise. There were hippy curves, on the furniture, on the architecture and under the girlish skirts. Beehives were the obligatory hairdo, comlinks were worn on the wrist and the warp-core looked like an engine room from the yellow submarine. The little details were bountiful, joyful and satisfying. Isn’t it curious why less vigour was used on the screenplay?

I have a feeling that this film was hacked up by producers, redesigned as a high concept action and then sedated for younger audiences: Like taking a bottle of fine cognac, refilling it with top-shelf liquors and then boiling off the alcohol. There was something of the original in it, yes, but really only on the label.

DIARIT: 3/10

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