My dear wife, sons and I saw Star Trek last night in a crowded theater.
Two-word review: it rocks!
I was about 11 when the original Star Trek TV series came out. I loved it, watched every episode. I also saw all or most of The Next Generation. None of the other series held me very long. I also saw all the Star Trek movies. I may be the only one who actually likes the first movie — probably in part simply because it was so wonderful to see it on a big screen, with (at the time) state of the art special effects.
But I felt they should have pulled the plug on the movies years earlier than they did. The team producing Star Trek products had long since run out of gas, steam, and ideas. It was pathetic.
So when I heard there'd be a new movie, I shrugged. Then when I read that J. J. Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield, Fringe) was attached to the movie, I had hope.
Was that hope justified?
Oh. My. Starsandgarters. Completely.
This movie absolutely rocks, from first frame to last. It is a model for how to reboot and reimagine a classic original. The creators respect the givens, but they have fun with them. They approach them with life and joy and creativity.
The Enterprise is the same shape for instance - but instead of two weapons that can easily be taken out, they have an array of weaponry (as Babylon 5 did). The beloved characters are clearly completely modeled after the series' originals, but they're approached with freshness and life and freedom. When you hear the familiar phrases, they're fond and fresh. They aren't stuck in the script due to lack of creativity, or with a sneering wink.
Now, I don't like the crude and sexually suggestive language, and that is a problem in this movie, so be warned. The violence is pervasive but mostly typical fantasy violence, not gory. The rating is appropriate.
But within about ten minutes, my dear wife and I were wiping tears from our eyes from being emotionally moved; then a few minutes later we were laughing. There were lots of marvelous laughs, jumps, suspenseful runs — it just was a "win" from just about every angle.
The actors are splendid, with no exceptions. Karl Urban does an amazing turn as "Bones"; the New Zealander even sounds like DeForest Kelly, though not to the point of an imitation.
So I say see it, if sci-fi is your "thing" at all.
And BTW, this is an example of Roger Ebert at his worst. I read Ebert because he's a fun writer, and I often enjoy reading him even when I don't agree. But this review has to go next to his terrible review of The Fellowship of the Ring as among his worst.
In both cases, he didn't even see the movie he's reviewing. He reviewed his thoughts about the movie, his expectations of what the movie should be — not the movie.
In the case of Star Trek, evidently the movie Ebert went to see is "National Geographic's Documentary on Time Travel, Life in Space, and Complex Plots." So all he wants to talk about is incidentals.
He forgot that movies are supposed to entertain.
Which Star Trek abundantly does.
One stylistic gripe: J. J. Abrams has this "thing" for gleams. Watch "Fringe" on TV, and there are these sporadic gleams, these flashes of light, from no detectable source.
In this movie, he goes nuts. The Enterprise bridge in particular features constant distracting, annoying gleams; so do other scenes. There's even a bright gleam off a lightless mountainside! I sincerely hope Abrams (or his cinematographer) got it out of his system in this movie, and spares us, in the sequel.
I also hope Abrams loses the language.
Because there will be a sequel. And I plan to be there.
(Next week I plan to write briefly on Star Trek and worldview.)
UPDATE: that post can now be found here.
UPDATE 2: some discussion of the annoying lens flares that mar the look of the movie.
UPDATE 3: now that I own the Blu-ray — yikes! Those lens-flares are incredibly obnoxious. They're in virtually every shot. It's like some kid who's just discovered all those fonts in MS Word, and everything he writes is in distracting, obnoxious fonts. So much about Star Trek is so good, I really hope Abrams has that well out of his system.