Last night I experienced the first of what I expect will be a summer filled with Hollywood blockbusters and it wasn’t a disappointment. For someone who’s not the biggest Sci-Fi fan (I didn’t watch Star Wars until I was 18, and that was voluntary) it was an enjoyable, easy and entertaining film. My understanding of the original television series is vague to say the least and, admittedly, has been formed though cultural references rather than watching the show itself (I owe The Simpsons for that) but I still managed to pick up on the odd joke, or wink to the original fan base, the film makes. The best being Spok the younger, meeting Spok the elder and being informed that his previously said, and usual farewell would seem “oddly self serving” – which in turn let the film continue to live long and prosper. There was no “beam me up Scotty” but I have a suspicion that a Trekkie could tell me this is a classic misquote and was never mentioned in the original show, so perhaps why it was omitted, or maybe it would have been one sound bite too far.
There are some interesting twists to the usual formulaic approach blockbusters take, the most notable being that it’s Spok who gets the girl and not the dashing action hero, Kirk. Hot girls like logic, clearly. There were no overbearing or endless action scenes, the pace of the narrative was engaging moving the plot along at the right speed to keep interest but not complicate things.
It’s a pretty basic story line man destroys planet by accident, war lord seeks revenge, the bad guys die, the good guy gets the girl, but with a sufficiently odd twist to keep interest. Time, space, continuum for a mass-market - Stephen Hawkins must be spewing. But the cinematography is spectacular if not limited. There is the slick, clinical hustle of the Starship Enterprise set against the jarred, industrial bleakness of the warlord, Nero’s ship. The space scenes are restricted to beautiful stand offs between the two ships, to sinister, creeping black holes to supernova and warp speed whizzery. I liked the fact that this was the first Sci-Fi I’ve seen which seemed to keep space localised.
I also liked the way the “future” was portrayed – Star Trek’s original 60s costume department was given a modern re-vamp but essential stayed the same, as did the hair and 60s flick’s make up for the women. The opening sequence sees Kirk driving an “antique” mustang being chased by a cross between Robocop and the Terminator. There’s shamelessly no explanation of how this car could have survived 2000 years of rust or where the petrol came from to run it, but I think that’s why it works, the “future” seems oddly real, which is essential if you’re going to engage with the narrative.
To boldly go? Definitely, worth a watch and without the big screen the effect could be lost.
Best scene: Skydiving to the top of the drill, Kirk and companions battle atop a blazing piece of planet destroying kit.