Thursday, May 7, 2009

My reaction to Star Trek (with spoilers!)

Just came back from Star Trek.

It's... very different from previous Trek films. There's some things that stay the same, and a lot that changes. Definitely not gonna replace Wrath of Khan, heh.

The CGI's amazing, of course. That's kinda the most obvious at-a-glance difference. See, this is really hard. My head is swimming with all the crazy stuff that I just saw, but... most of it's gonna be spoilers.

I will say, you should prepare yourself for a lot, I mean a lot of lens flare in this film. It was some sort of cinematic look they were going for, but sometimes the amount of it was just overwhelming. Like, a character will look out of a window, and the sun just pours through the window and completely blots out the screen with yellow flare for a good two to three seconds. That was just kinda "Ok, that's a bit much, thanks."

Yea... the timeline really changes...


Which is mind boggling, but I didn't really feel the impact because you're aware of the time travel, so... maybe it's just me, but I felt myself not reacting to the change when it happened because I was sure that they would use the time travel again at the climax to undo what had happened. It seemed really telegraphed. But then they don't do that at all, which was cool. But by then, the emotional impact of Vulcan being gone was uh, gone. It was just a CGI effect. Did anyone else feel this way?

They do show the Kobayashi Maru, which was really really funny. Maybe a bit too over the top, depending on your mood.

I mean, Kirk's fucking eating a goddamn apple in the scene... that's just insanely over the top. It does work in a comedic manner, but if you've envisioned it happening a different way since 1982 when Wrath of Khan came out, obviously this is gonna take some getting used to.

Just all throughout the film, there are these callbacks to the old series that we know and love. That was really cute and worked for me. Scotty actually saying "I'm giving it all I've got, Capn!" and uh, Spock uttering "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

We even find out how McCoy got the nickname "Bones."

Not sure how I feel about the new guy playing Spock. It's just really hard to see Spock being played this way. It's much more emotional then we're used to, so that was a shock. And of course, because we actually have Leonard Nimoy playing him too. And the new guy's just got a huge nose. There'd be these closeups of Kirk and Spock eyeing each other, and I'd just focus on how Spock's nose is so much bigger then Kirk's normal sized one. It was just weird.

And yea, it's definitely been a while since I've watched TOS episodes. But I think it's also that when we see Spock being emotional before in TOS, it was usually emotional in a friendly, camaraderie sort of way. Here, he's mostly emotional in an angry way.

Right now I'm looking up who played the Orion girl, cause she was fucking hot. You know how Kirk is...

But uh... that's just minor. Now, there is one relationship in this film that was uh... completely out of nowhere, nothing in canon to support it.

Spock and Uhura? Holy shit! That totally came out of left field for me. Just uh... WTF. I don't think I was the only one in my audience to react that way, either. Not saying that it's a terrible decision though. Just a shocker cause we'd never seen this before in TOS. We'll have to see how the sequels handle this relationship. Still, right now... it's just a huge seismic change.

Nero's not a great villain. Kinda wasted in the story, I think. Just uh... not very memorable.

And his great villainous ship turns out to be just a mining ship. Which doesn't really jive with it being this sinister spidery juggernaut. Seriously, it dwarfs every other ship... I'd estimate it's somewhere from a half to one Borg Cubes in size. No idea why a mining ship needs to be that big. And the inside of it kinda reminded me a little of V'ger. Just a really crazy layout. Again, not sure why a mining ship would look like that.

Oh, know what I didn't expect? New Chekov's accent got almost unbearably comical to listen to. It's strange, cause I've never blinked at old Chekov's thick accent. But hearing it coming out of this young new actor was really grating. I actually burst out laughing when he first talked. Simon Pegg's Scotty was great, he was funny in that same sorta Jimmy Doohan manner back in the day. Just a joy in every scene. McCoy too, Karl Urban really seemed to have researched Kelly's acting mannerisms. Don't believe he ever said "He's dead, Jim" though.

Unfortunately, I've gotta report that this film suffers from the same horrible flaw as Deep Space Nine's big battle scenes... we never see any visible shields. Maybe I missed em, but from what I could see, there were never any shield impact effects. Ships just get torn to pieces from the get-go by torpedoes. I mean, yes, Nero's ship is from the future and is obviously much more powerful then the Starfleet ships. But still, I would've expected to see at least one shield impact before they failed. Hey, if I'm wrong on this... feel free to correct me with screenshots. Prove me wrong, I beg you.

The other strange technical oddity is that transporters can work through shields now. Either that or nobody ever has shields up. One or the other. Just kinda bizarre. Everybody's just transporting to where they need to be.

And wtf was with Kirk and Scott transporting to the Enterprise from the ice planet? I mean, I get that the story needed to send them there, but... you mean to tell me that transporters can now reach ships that have departed a planet at high warp for a couple hours? Really? That's some crazy magic Spock Prime worked on that transporter pad. I just... yea, that really didn't make any sense to me. Transporters have a certain range. And yes, having a guy from the future can certainly improve that range. But it really took me out of the movie when you have a transporter that has that kind of crazy range. Not to mention that like I said before, they seemed to be able to transport through the Enterprise's shields. Or the Enterprise was running with shields down, which would be kinda strange given they were facing a dangerous Romulan that had just destroyed Vulcan.

Annnnnd as far as the aesthetics, I really didn't like the new Engineering. It was filmed in a brewery, and that's pretty much what it looks like, a brewery. A lot of pipes going everywhere and huge vats that I imagine contained beer. Just a complete departure from the central warp core room that they introduced in the films and TNG. Which hey, what can I say... that worked for me. Also, the ship apparently has several small warp cores, instead of one long tube that runs from the top to the bottom of the secondary hull. The bridge of course is the same general layout, just all decorated Apple-y white. So it was much more familiar and I didn't have a problem with it.

Oooooh, they did change the phasers... that was pretty noticeable. They're still about the same shape and appearance to the Star Trek 5-6 model, but now they actually switch the barrel when you change it from kill to stun. So it'll have a red barrel for kill, and then flip to a blue one for stun. I dunno... probably a concession to appeal more to casual people?

There was something very strange with the USS Kelvin, the Akula-like ship. At the beginning of the movie, it's getting trashed pretty badly. They have to evacuate the entire ship. So, that top part is the secondary hull, with the shuttlebay. Now... this ship launches about 10-15 shuttles out of there with all the survivors. This is supposed to be a thrilling escape scene, yet... all I could think was how the hell did that secondary hull have room for all of those shuttles? Did the shuttlebay take up the entire hull? Where was their Engineering? It was so strange seeing 15 shuttles coming out of that dinky little secondary hull. Was there some sort of mass shifting pocket universe embedded in the Kelvin to store shuttles?

So yea, still pretty overwhelmed by the experience. Go see it, it's a good time at the movies.

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