Monday, May 11, 2009

Going Again Where No Man Has Gone Before

I saw the new Star Trek movie yesterday.

Good points:

* It really does put some fun back into a franchise that was beginning to come across as pompous and pretentious.
* There are some beautiful special effects, and I suspect that they will date less quickly than those of previous movies.
* Some of the character acting was splendid, and as usual some of the secondary main characters -- Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) especially -- give a crucial bit of balance, humor, and feeling of teamwork to the story. This is one of the things that has often been seriously lacking in the movies, despite the fact that it's the thing that's usually most needed.
* The comic side of the story is generally written and acted well.

Bad points:

* There is no plot, just an extensive stringing together of coincidences. Now, we shouldn't look down on coincidences: good plots often trade on them. But this has a lot of implausible coincidences, falling into three groups: (1) coincidences that are implausible but can be accepted because they are given the right comic twist; (2) coincidences that are implausible but are bearable because they contribute to the story at least a little bit; (3) coincidences that are so implausible they make no sense. And while (1) is just a staple of science fiction on the screen, (3) comes thick and heavy here, especially toward the middle.
* I thought the opening scenes were mostly cheesy.
* The score is oddly done. On the one hand, there are occasional good uses of silence in the music to give vivid contrast to the difference between the inside and the outside of the ship. On the other, there are several times when it should have been quiet and suspenseful but instead became noisy and intrusive.
* Very forgettable villain.

But all in all, it's worth watching. One hopes that this run will mature a bit and not be quite so much about Pretty Young Things; but it's fresh life for the franchise.

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