Monday, May 18, 2009

A Triumph of Dramamine Over Drama

Since I have now composed at least three diatribes over Star Trek movie, I figured I might as well collect them here. This one was from my review on

I approached this film with modest expectations. It did not need to be great to satisfy me, and indeed I was pleasantly entertained by Wolverine, with which the new Star Trek has been compared.

But where Wolverine succeeds (satisfactorily, if not brilliantly) in filling in the back-story of its universe, Star Trek simply shirks the matter altogether. Rather than trouble themselves by displaying actual creativity, the writers immediately escape into an "alternate timeline", then flagrantly usurp aspects of several previous sci-fi movies (including Trek and Star Wars -- hey, they say it's the most sincere form of flattery), before finally pasting them together with something called "Red Matter" -- a mysterious substance which seemingly consists of the gray matter extracted from this film's inexplicably enthusiastic audience.

There are countless instances where the derivative script contradicts itself. Perhaps more than in any film I've seen in the last 20 years. A handful that would have otherwise been noticed by toddlers are patched by some haphazardly added sections of dialog, uttered by a cast perpetually drunk on Red Bull (which curiously, unlike other products, did not enjoy a shameless promo inside the film). Several scenes and devices are so evocative of Star Wars that one wonders if George Lucas' lawyers are not already drawing up papers to prevent further confusion of the two franchises - and if not, they should be. The differences between the two are a primary reason they've been able to coexist for so long.

Little, if anything, of this film's plot is ever reasonably explained: not the magical "Red Matter" that behaves one way at one moment, and another entirely just 20 minutes later; not what the villain and his crew have done for the two and a half decades during which the writers do not need them; and certainly not the reasons why a group of belligerent, untested rookies with particularly juvenile behavioral tendencies immediately lands seniority on what we're told is one of the most advanced vessels ever made. Gimme a frigging break!

Rather than address the film's issues, the producers simply distract viewers with frenetic pacing, applied to a disorienting cacophony of shaky cameras, gratuitous fight scenes, and explosions. These shallow gimmicks failed to hypnotize me. This is a film to make "Aladdin" feel deep and "Terminator" dull.

It seems that thought, experience, hard work, and personal sacrifice mean nothing in a new Star Trek universe masterfully crafted for today's audience. Roddenberry's constant undertones regarding duty, morality, and a vision for a better future are jettisoned faster than the warp core of a doomed Enterprise. The result is simply an insult to our intelligence.

SUMMARY: Nothing more than Cloverfield in space -- with an identical monster and a lot more explosions. J.J. Abrams urinates on Gene Roddenberry's grave and thanks him for the opportunity, to roaring applause.

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