Monday, May 18, 2009

And One More For The Road...

A third Star Trek review, which I posted to a few other review sites. Rather than post the same review in multiple places, I've attempted to vary them. So, if anyone missed the fact that I hated this movie, now you have a chance to fully come up to speed...

I am starting to believe that J.J. Abrams's relentless camera shaking technique actually does work. "Lost" continues to enjoy strong ratings despite the pathological inability of its writers to actually complete a single coherent storyline. "Cloverfield" made money despite being little more than a hysterical clamor of vapid characters and blurry explosions, and now we get this sad, derivative fabrication. Somehow, a blithering array of critics and moviegoers alike has emerged from theaters raving about this film as if it were the second coming. Meanwhile, I'm left with the strong feeling that either I am immune to this man's hypnotic powers, or I was subjected to a different film entirely.

Even if I could put aside all of the purely subjective gripes I have with this film - cinematography that features shaky cameras in EVERY scene, lens flares aggressive enough that Obama would have banned them from interrogations in Gitmo, and special effects that conceal animation flaws by employing ludicrously frequent cuts and constant blur - I would still have one issue after another with the premises and plot devices used:

  • What kind of civilization sends a geriatric diplomat (Spock), however venerable, by himself on a mission to rescue an entire planet (Romulus) from a supernova, in a ship with enough power to create multiple black holes?
  • If that mission failed, how by any stretch of physics did both Spock's ship and Nero's survive passing through a black hole - even if we forget for a moment that both also then proceeded to travel backward in time?
  • If both Nero and Spock's ships are capable of surviving trips through a black hole, why does the black hole at the climax of the film represent such a danger? At one point in the movie, a black hole is a convenient time travel device - and 30 minutes later, it is a force that easily destroys Nero's ship?
  • If this film's magical "Red Matter" can create black holes simply by "igniting," why, then, must the villain bother with elaborate (and highly vulnerable) giant orbital drills - other than to provide a contrived stage for a sword fight?
  • If a transporter can theoretically operate while a ship is in orbit (which requires a velocity of - what - 20-30,000 mph?) why is the device unable to lock onto a person who is merely falling through the air or off a cliff - which would represent a tiny fraction of that relative speed?
  • This film contains fleets of ships capable of traveling faster than light, which presumably requires incredibly advanced technology. So how, then, is 17 year old Chekov able to operate the Enterprise's transporter faster than the ship's computer? I heard no references to his use of "the force."
  • In what universe would a group of egotistical, untested rookies - no matter how intelligent they supposedly are - land seniority on any advanced military vessel, before even proving themselves in a single real-world situation? Were there no senior officers at all assigned to the Enterprise?
  • Why does every single character, in every single scene, speak at such an unnaturally fast pace? Barring a handful of contrived one-liners, this film regards dialog as a nuisance that distracts from far more interesting scenes featuring the destruction of personal property, fights, attacks, explosions, implosions, and virtually any other form of over-the-top, gratuitous violence that J.J. could ram into its two-plus-hour confines.

I could go on for weeks. But in the end it makes no difference how many elements of this film are ludicrous, even by today's science fiction standards. It makes no difference how many were shamelessly stolen from other sci-fi franchises (what do they say about the sincerest form of flattery?), or whether this film represents Star Trek "canon" (it does not, and in fact, retains nothing at all of Gene Roddenberry's intelligent, optimistic vision). It makes no difference that the main characters are approximately as believable as a microwave oven capable of cold fusion.

In the end, the sum of all the shaking cameras and relentless, blurry explosions has succeeding in duping millions of viewers and countless critics into believing that this 127-minute ordeal in a dentist's chair is an enjoyable film. Perhaps my gray matter hasn't yet been turned into red matter. Or maybe I just need to ask for more nitrous oxide. It seems that J.J. Abrams and his disciples may have plenty to spare.

1 comment:

Sarek said...

jm3, you hit the nail on the head again... I was actually cracking up reading your review - J.J. makes our brains non functional - just look at his bland face - this guy is so two dimensional and his creations show that. In time everyone will beg Rick Berman for another TV series set in 30th century when timeships can set things straight. Live long and prosper.