Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beam Me Up, I’m On Board For This One

I became familiar with Star Trek the original TV series simply because of exposure from my more geeky classmates. But I was a bigger fan of Space: 1999 because that series looked way cooler—it was shot in the 70s so the production design was more modern-looking, while the Gene Roddenberry series was shot in the 60s and was in black and white. Still I consider myself a fan of the series. I watched all the Star Trek movies (even the excruciatingly dragging Star Trek: The Motion Picture) when they came out in the cinemas. I followed Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager, the two spin-off series that kept me hooked on this vision of the future. I’m not a rabid Star Trek purist, but I know enough of the mythology.

So it was a pleasant surprise to watch JJ Abrams’ reboot of the series in Star Trek: The Future Begins. The task was difficult: how to energize a series for a new set of fans who grew up on Star Wars, jaw-dropping CG images, and a heart-pounding film pacing more suitable to a summer Hollywood blockbuster than sedate ruminations on time-space singularities, while keeping its current fan base happy. Luckily JJ Abrams is more a Star Wars fan, so he had the distance needed to take an iconic sci-fi series and turn it on its head.

I promise I will try to avoid any spoilers here.

The movie happily retains the characters and the qualities that endeared them to fans, yet updates them so that they offer a new take which may (or may not) generate new interest for the fans. I especially liked how they re-imagined Uhura, the communications officer of the USS Enterprise who, in the series and the movies, has been relegated to mostly being a glorified telephone operator (she’s the precursor of call center agents in years to come). What’s more, they further upped the ante on Spock’s conflicted nature being half-human and half-Vulcan. And the tweak they added between these two characters? Haylaveth!

Having Leonard Nimoy as Spock appear in the movie is a great way to bridge the two generations of Enterprise crews. It is both a wise tip of the hat to the original cast, while at the same time offering a clever way to incorporate this current movie into the existing Star Trek universe. It’s a simple twist, done many times over in the Star Trek series as well as other sci-fi series. Yet it works wonders here. Maybe because the casting is so spot-on; it’s seeing old familiar faces but in an interesting new light.

JJ Abrams’ experience with Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible and even Cloverfield suits him well to be able to keep this movie visually interesting and action-packed to lure a new set of audience in. I must admit I find the action set pieces a little too “summer blockbuster-y” but, hey, those are the filmmakers’ marching orders, right? And like any obedient Starfleet crew, they are just carrying out the commands. I also found Eric Bana’s villain, and the way he’s out to “destroy worlds”, a bit of a sci-fi cliché. As a villain, he doesn’t rank up there with Khan, the Borg or even Q (yeah, yeah, I know Q’s technically not a villain); you’ll forget his character the moment the movie ends.

But I guess that’s okay, because really, it’s the “new” old characters that I fell in love with all over again. And I suppose that’s really what’s more important, creating characters that moviegoers will want to watch again and again and again. And this smart reboot of an old series will hopefully lure a new batch of moviegoers—as well as old fans like me—to follow the USS Enterprise to boldly go where no one has gone before.

This is Star Trek: For The Next Generation.


Herbs D. said...

and now that you know the basics of the Star Trek Universe-the only thing you need to know now is master the Klingon!

tara! lets go sip over coffeee while we practice spinning our tounges till it bleed!

daemon said...

yey for startrek...

live long and prosper... =)

~Carrie~ said...

i'm so gonna watch it!

Enrico Nicolas said...

"Cloverleaf" ba yun?

Di ba, "Cloverfield" dapat?

joelmcvie said...

@ENRICO: Corrected by!

thebaklareview said...

ang sexy ng cast. i want to fuck all of them.