star trek

Star Trek

Year: 2009
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Gene Roddenberry(Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everything has to get a reboot these days, and typically I spend a lot of time hating on them but I consider this an exception. This is just such a cool movie. Believe me, I’ve watched all ten movies that came before it and while two of them were really good none of them were cool. J.J. Abrams really turned up the volume.

In his debut film Chris Hemsworth gets me every time. The intro to this movie is absolutely incredible. It starts with a bang and then hits you right in the heart. Thrust into action, the future Thor is inspiring with his bravery. Hemsworth delivers on this scene when he’s naming his son as he is sacrificing his life to save everyone. The sparks are flying in the background of this emotional scene and it’s just beautiful. Star Trek doesn’t usually start like this, and it makes a difference.

The following scenes featuring young Kirk and Spock are awesome and deepen characters we already know and love. Despite how crappy most of the movies have been they are still legendary. Captain Kirk and Spock are icons. It’s no easy task to recreate them but J. J. Abrams made it look easy, this time around anyway. He took two characters that people know, and not just know but know really well and taught us something new about both of them.

Abrams did so many things right early on. Showing the conflict Spock has being half Human and half Vulcan. The first meeting of Kirk and Dr. McCoy, with Karl Urban doing a terrific Deforrest Kelley impression. He shows us Kirk cheating the freaking Kobiyashi Maru test! These things were all really well done. I think it’s blasphemous to say it because it’s a reboot, but having just watched all the Star Trek movies I have to admit that this is better. It’s more engaging, it’s more entertaining.

The cast is fantastic. Chris Pine was a relative nobody when this movie came out and he became an instant star with his portrayal of a young Captain Kirk. He has swagger and he looks the part of a young William Shatner but still manages to make his own stamp on the part. Zachery Quinto too looks the part yet manages to make it his own. Quintos Spock won’t just Vulcan death grip you, he’ll karate chop you and outsmart you because he’s been doing so his whole life. I don’t usually like Karl Urban, but he is fantastic in this part. I like that Harold (John Cho) from Harold and Kumar is playing Sulu. Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace, is a cool Chekov. Zoe Saldana continued making her rounds in Sci-Fi franchises and looks great as usual. Simon Pegg is awesome in everything he is a part of and he is no different as Scotty, frankly his presence just makes this movie that much better.

The movie already had us with great action in the intro but the space jump is just amazing. Ha ha the thrill seeking “other guy” eats it on the dive. In true Star Trek fashion that no name along for the ride with Kirk and Sulu is expendable and dies. Oh damn, Sulu has a future sword and starts flipping around like a ninja. Again another character is redefined and cooler than he was before. Who knew Harold had it in him. Kirk Point Break’s Sulu when he’s falling without a shute, and Chekov gets a moment to shine. This scene is hands down a step ahead of the rest of Star Trek, it’s so cool.

I had a big problem when I saw this for the first time because they destroyed Vulcan. I just felt like this was a blasphemous thing to do. It was like killing Cyclops in that awful third X-Men movie. You can’t destroy Vulcan, it’s too important. However, it is a defining moment in the story that drives the rest of the film. I have come along since that first viewing, especially after watching all the Star Trek movies in a row. This one is just better, I’ll forgive it its misgivings.

I don’t think there is anything about Eric Bana as the villain, or the whole Nero story line, that’s really significant. Although he does break out those bugs that make you susceptible to suggestion from The Wrath of Khan. That is cool, but beyond that, and destroying Vulcan, he is just a guy for the good guys to fight. This movie is all about the good guys and they needed a villain when they weren’t fighting each other.

Ha! Kirk is climbing again! It’s been established before, the man likes to climb. Spock maroons him on a desolate planet because he’s too brash. Kirk has to climb out of his landing spot deep in the ice. Then Leonard Nimoy shows up, somewhere William Shatner was outraged, and he’s just a sight for sore eyes. In this long and monotonous journey that included two movies I couldn’t even finish the original Spock is just great to see again.

By establishing a new timeline they establish a new universe for themselves. It was a brilliant idea that should have been great going forward. I’ve only seen the sequel once and we never owned it until I started watching all the Star Trek movies, oh the hours I’ll never get back. After this movie I’m actually looking forward to seeing the next one again but I won’t be reviewing the third film because I have had enough of Star Trek. We watch Star Trek Beyond recently and weren’t impressed.

This movie has a great climax following the awesome fight, or ass kicking I should say, between Kirk and Spock. Spock beats the shit out of Kirk, but Kirk gets what he wants so it’s all good. Kirk has no qualms with taking an ass whooping in this movie, but he keeps fighting anyway. Spock and Kirk of course come to an understanding and then ride into battle together. Beaming aboard the enemy vessel, phasers in hand. They save the day and fly off into the starset as a couple of joes that might still become the friends in this new time line.

I haven’t mentioned it but the score for this film was terrific. I love that weird sound they chime all throughout the movie. It just sounds like Star Trek and really sets the tone.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but this movie nearly saves the name of Star Trek for me. I have made it plain how this journey through Star Trek has been for me. It’s all in print now and I was ready to swear off the whole thing for good. All of it, Kirk, Spock, Data, Worf, my personal favorite Captain Picard, every single person who ever wore one of those stupid uniforms. Nevertheless, this movie has me wanting more and I didn’t think that was possible at this point. I think I’m going to watch the sequel tomorrow night and see where it takes me. I didn’t like the sequel as much but hopefully that changes this time around. Or maybe it won’t. Star Trek has had just enough good movies to keep me going so by the laws of probability there won’t be another good one till this version hits its fifth or sixth movie, if we’re being optimistic.

This is the coolest of the cool, a complete retelling of something that at least had the potential to be cool at times. If you haven’t seen this movie you should check it out. Just don’t go calling yourself a Trekkie until you’ve paid your dues. You don’t have to wear Vulcan ears or anything but you have to know. You have to understand what came before and have some appreciation for it. It’s questionable if any of the movies that came before are actually worth your time but this one definitely is.

Disclaimer: Please excuse me real Star Trek fans. I don’t claim to be one of you but I am like a close outsider. I know things, but I would never beat you in a trivia match up. If I’m way off base here then by all means present your arguments and I would love to discuss it.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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Star Trek: Insurrection

Year: 1998
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Written By: Rick Berman, Mike Pillar. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is the only Star Trek film I literally have no memory of. I was actually in high school when this movie came out, a freshman no less. I was probably trying to hide altogether that I had ever even heard of Star Trek much less making a trip to the theater to see it. I remember watching it on video eventually and thinking it failed in comparison to First Contact. This movie was the only one of the original ten that I didn’t own as part of the collection. I ordered it on Amazon two days ago because I figured I should have the whole set now that I’ve reached it on the blog. Right now, I am sitting down to it blind and it is the first of these nine movies I can honestly say I don’t remember anything about it. So here it goes….

Data goes rogue….thirty minutes into the movie and this is all I have. It’s cool because Data should have a prominent role in any movie going forward, he is the new age Spock after all. This story isn’t big enough though. I don’t really even know what’s going on yet but the mere fact that I’m at a loss highlights a problem with the story. This movie has always been criticized as being too much like an episode and that holds true. It is an odd movie that gives credence to the argument that only even films are good.

Captain Picard is now singing out loud and Worf and Data are joining him. Damnit this is why people make fun of Star Trek! Here you have your three most badass characters and they are singing exaggeratedly to one another. Patrick Stewart of course has an incredible voice but that is beside the point.

I’m only a third of the way through this movie but I can see that there was a reason I didn’t own it before. The criticisms of this movie are right. It’s too much like a long TV episode and not a grand enough idea to really warrant a movie. While it’s always great to see these characters on screen I feel like I’m wasting my time right now.

I remember now, I hated the part in this movie when Geordi La Forge got his eyes back. That’s so lame when the coolest part of his character was the visor he wore. It was what LeVar Burton wanted but I don’t care. As a fan of the character the way he used to be I think it was totally lame.

After First Contact I expected more out of another movie in this series. The studio apparently wanted something with a lighter tone but I think that was a mistake. I noticed that the last movie was distinct in that it was the only film to garner a PG-13 rating and I think they were heading in the right direction then. This movie was lighter in everything from color to excitement and there they went too far.

By the time that something even remotely happens in this movie it’s too late, and LeVar Burton’s eyes are the alien in the room. I don’t even care what happens from here on out. I have almost an hour left and I don’t think I can stand to watch the rest. I made Amber suffer through eight Star Trek movies with a few thrills along the way but I’ll be damned if I make her suffer through this when I can’t even explain it to myself.

Sorry, I’m ending this movie, this review, and I’m regrouping with the tenth film, Nemesis, before jumping into the rebooted series. That will be tomorrow, but tonight I am done.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

 

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Year: 1984
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
Written By: Harve Bennett, Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have always felt this third movie fell into the odd and even theory of Star Trek films but only because there are significant problems with the story. This movie is deeply tied into Star Trek roots being made by one of the cast members and there is plenty to like about it. Nevertheless, watching this movie is simply waiting for the inevitable to happen. You know it’s only a matter of time before Kirk is back in the captain’s chair and it’s only a matter of time before Spock returns. The Klingons are the wild card in the film and they do keep things interesting. It’s a totally OK movie but it is far from great.

This movie got back to the basics and used the Klingons as the villains, and I think that was awesome. I thought Christopher Lloyd‘s performance was a little over the top, but these Klingons are ruthless. It’s totally lame when Doc Brown chokes that snakelike thing to death but when he gives the order to kill one of the hostages he’s just cold blooded. I do like that Kruge and Kirk have a fight to the death as the planet destroys itself around them. I also love the last Klingon that is really disappointed that he isn’t going to be killed. The Klingon would rather be put to death than face defeat. You just can’t go wrong with Kingons as the villains in a Star Trek film.

This is the first appearance of the Klingon Bird of Prey ship and it is by far the coolest ship to date. It really sucks that Kirk has to destroy the Enterprise but at least he got a bitchin new ship in the process. This movie is the middle of a three film arc and they get to fly around in the Bird of Prey for the fourth film too.

Star Trek is better with Spock and what this whole movie boils down to is a Star Trek movie with practically no Spock. You have Spock’s dad but what a poor substitute. I thought Leonard Nimoy did a good job behind camera and had an obvious influence on the very Star Trekkie feel to certain parts of the movie. The scenes on Earth when McCoy goes to the bar and sees a wide variety of aliens, including those fur ball things I can’t remember the name of, specifically come to mind as an example of what I’m talking about.

William Shatner really tries to pull out the acting big guns when his son is killed. Falling to his knees and getting choked up as he screams at the Klingon bastard. I think that moment in the film could have been much more dramatic. When Doc Brown gives the order to kill one of the prisoners, he doesn’t care which one, the scene wasn’t drawn out enough. You have Saavik, David, or Spock to choose from and one of these important characters is going to be killed. While Saavik is the one chosen David steps up to defend her with a really weak fight before getting stabbed to death. It’s interesting that Kirk’s sacrifice of his son and his ship counter balances the sacrifice of Spock in the preceding film.

There is a lot to like about this movie but nothing that really sets it apart from the others. I think the story is the main problem because it is all a build up to the return of Spock and we all know that one way or another he will return and be alright. This movie works for the Trekkies but I don’t think the average person would ever sit down to this film and enjoy it.

If you’re a Trekkie you don’t need my opinion about this film because you out rank me in fandom. However, if you aren’t a Star Trek fan then frankly I’m shocked you’d still be reading this. This is a good enough Star Trek film but it’s not going to make any new fans. I’d say it’s easily worth the time of Trekkies everywhere but not for anybody who isn’t into it.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek III: The Voyage Home (1986)