Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Star Trek

***** (5 stars out of 5)
In which the planet Romulus is destroyed. Nero, one of the few survivors, seeks revenge on the entire galaxy. Traveling backward to a suspiciously similar parallel universe, he interferes with the birth of Jim Kirk, killing our hero's father and otherwise dicking around with time. Fate and the Original Mr. Spock, marooned in the past, must intervene to stop the fiddling Nero from burning every Federation world, one by one.

By default, Kirk's father figure is the noble Captain Pike, who peels the lad off a barroom floor. "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives... I dare you to do better."

Dr. McCoy's origins can be summed up in one curmudgeonly sentence. "The ex-wife got the whole damn planet in the divorce- all I got left is my bones." Kirk latches onto the glum medicine man instantly on the shuttle to Starfleet Academy.

The pair of fast friends embark on their better-late-than-never career path, along with a certain straight-laced Vulcan who (by the standards of his world) is really a Bad-Ass Rebel. Spock's also going to be setting the standards of his world from now on, as one of a handful of survivors when the Romulan terrorists implode Vulcan along with half the Starfleet on Graduation Day.

Add Spock's brainy linguist girlfriend Uhura, the math ninja Chekov, and the regular ninja Sulu, and the wheels are almost back on this high-octane Wagon Train to the Stars.

Snarky Scott was exiled to the chilly, remote planet Delta Vega for losing Admiral Archer's beloved beagle in a long-distance transporter experiment. The writers confirm this was indeed 145-year-old Federation Founding Father Jonathan Archer, but were quite sure the beagle involved was NOT Porthos. And, in case (like me) you were worried about the poor little puppy, Alan Dean Foster's novelization finally beams him back aboard. So does one of the comic books. But that's not the real question: "Are you from the future?" Scotty innocently inquires. "Do they still have sandwiches there?"

A massive round of applause to the combined efforts of the make-up and CG teams for some of the most creative atmospheric aliens in a long while, and who finally netted a Trek film an Academy Award. The ubiquitous Romulan foreheads of the 24th century are suspiciously absent, but one can only assume more cases of the Augment Flu caused them in the first place.

Speaking of aliens who are easy on the eyes, and because it slips my mind whether or not I've ever mentioned that I enjoy ladies of the green persuasion, let me refer you to my own sadly neglected sister blog for my thoughts on some Orion window dressing who should be crew, Gaila! Since the time of that writing, I saw the deleted scenes that explain how Kirk used an email mash note for his alien bedroom buddy to carry his cheat code to the Kobiyashi Maru test simulator. Also, there's a scene where Kirk stands in an Enterprise hallway apologizing to a disgruntled Orion woman he THINKS is Gaila... further implying that Kirk thinks Gaila is aboard! Not in the sequel. sadly, but not dead yet!

They say the heart of rock and roll is still beating, and from what I've seen, I believe 'em.

"Star Trek", until I saw it, was a movie I expected to LOATHE. Told for years that no one cared about the concept anymore, THEN told it would be a Top Gun/Kirk/Spock/Academy prequel/reboot by that Lost guy, I was never happier to be wrong. Michael Giacchino's score is delightful. Orici and Kurtzman's script is top drawer. It is repeatedly hilarious, and painful, and triumphant.

If no one had ever made Galaxy Quest, this would be my favorite Star Trek movie ever.

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