Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Hugo nominee, Dramatic Pres., Long Form: Star Trek Screenplay by Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman; Directed by J.J. Abrams (Paramount)

I'm going abroad for the rest of the month (to a country that's likely to have dodgy internet), so this is the last post of May. I'll be back in early June, and I'll post quite frequently to catch up (I'm on summer break now!)

J. J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise was a fun crowd-pleaser. As long as you don't think too hard about the plot, there's a lot to enjoy.

Abrams had a tough choice here. Stay within the 43 years of continuity and possibly alienate new fans (who are certainly needed for a film this big to make a profit), or throw out the continuity and anger the fanbase (also essential to the film's success). Somehow, Abrams managed to do both. He uses a little time travel to create a new, branching continuity. The characters can go in new directions, and anything can happen, but there are plenty of Easter eggs for the old fans. Surprisingly, this approach actually seems to have worked. The film was a critical and financial success and most Trekkies (Trekkers, whatever) seem to have really liked it.

A Romulan miner named Nero manages to bring a ship from the 24th century to James Kirk's 23rd. Kirk's father is killed in the first contact between the Federation and the future ship, and the young Kirk takes a different path to Starfleet Academy. While still at the Academy, the students are scrambled to combat an attack by Nero on the planet Vulcan. In the battles that follow, the familiar crew make their way up the ranks of the Enterprise.

In a lot of ways, the film is patently ridiculous. It has cadets taking command of a starship. The villain's motivations are strange and his plot incomprehensibly convoluted. There are a few over-the-top slapstick humor sequences. And, there are a series of horribly contrived meetings between characters. It is, on a lot of levels, a stupid film, and I don't think that should be surprising since the writers, Orci and Kurtzman, were responsible for the very stupid Transformer films.

And yet, the film does work and was deserving of a lot of its success. The production values are so high that it manages to transcend so major story flaws. The acting is great, and Chris Pine especially does a great job filling the shoes of Shatner's iconic Kirk performance. And the film looks and sounds incredible. J. J. Abrams did a great job, even if he could have dialed back the lens flare a bit.

While critics were raving about it, the Onion had this hilarious news story. It's funny, but at the same time, I did want more boring alien diplomacy scenes. Or at least a story that made sense and had some real resonance. I'm looking forward to seeing more Trek in the years to come, but as long as Orci and Kurtzman are running things, I'm not too confident. The film had a lot of good will when it first came out, but I think that enough people have come to see the film's flaws that I don't see it winning the Hugo.

Grade: B

1 comment:

  1. I liked it in the theatre quite a bit, bored to tears watching it at home though.