Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Directed by: Leonard Nimoy
Written & Produced by: Harve Bennett

Executive Producer: Gary Nardino
Cinematography by: Charles Correll, A.S.C.
Art Director: John E. Chillberg II
Edited by: Robert F. Shugrue
Associate Producer: Ralph Winter
Music by: James Horner

Cast: William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, Christopher Lloyd, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick, John Larroquette, Mark Lenard, Robin Curtis

1984 / 105min / Rated PG

The U.S.S. Enterprise heads home, damaged from its battle with Khan, and still mourning the death of Spock. When Ambassador Sarek informs Kirk that Spock's soul is being carried by Dr. McCoy and can be restored to his body, Kirk and his crew steal the Enterprise to return to Genesis to save their friend. But when a Klingon bird-of-prey learns of the Genesis planet, its commander sets out to capture the secret of Genesis for the Klingon Empire.

After getting his wish to be killed off in The Wrath of Khan, Leonard Nimoy had such an enjoyable time making that film that he decided that he wanted to remain associated with Star Trek after all. Nimoy was not only granted his request to return, but also given the opportunity to direct as well. Given Spock's situation at the end of The Wrath of Khan, the only way to go about the sequel was to set out to resurrect him. And unless the filmmakers really wanted to alienate fans, the outcome is rather predictable. So The Search for Spock is meant to be more about the journey then it is the destination.

As far as story goes, The Search for Spock is rather predictable. There is only one way for the movie to end. So what do the filmmakers do to keep the viewer interested in the journey? Thrown into the mix is a Klingon commander (Christopher Lloyd) bent on acquiring the secret of Genesis to use for the glory of the Klingon Empire. Kruge is no Khan and Lloyd is able to make him a passable villain. He isn't a memorable villain, but he is able to get the job done. The final hand-to-hand battle between Kirk and Kruge in the midst of the destruction of the Genesis planet is technically effective, but when it comes to payoff, it doesn't match the satisfaction we get when we see Khan die. Where there was history to the Kirk-Khan rivalry that fueled the satisfaction in seeing Kirk defeat Khan, there isn't enough invested in the Kirk-Kruge rivalry to give any punch to Kruge's eventual death.

Just as the Battle in the Mutara Nebula was the highlight of The Wrath of Khan, the highlight of The Search for Spock is easily the theft of the Enterprise. With the Enterprise being decommissioned and the crew to be reassigned, Kirk is not allowed by Starfleet Command to take the Enterprise to Genesis to recover Spock based upon "Vulcan mysticism", as explained by Ambassador Sarek in a poignant scene in which Sarek mind-melds with Kirk, forcing Kirk to relieve Spock's death.

With no other choice, the crew of the Enterprise steal back their ship in a pulse-pounding scene that is so well played, directed, written and scored that it's the film's high point. This easily stands out as one of the best sequences in not only any of the Star Trek sequences, but the entire franchise as well.

Performances are wonderful, particularly from both William Shatner and DeForest Kelley. Kelley must portray a man in the midst of inner turmoil, struggling with both his own eccentricities and the mind of Spock. Spock and McCoy have been polar opposites from the beginning of the series, with Spock being logical and McCoy emotional. The pairing is quite intriguing and Kelley is excellent. Particularly of note is a short, quiet scene near the end where the crew has just left Genesis on their way to Vulcan, and McCoy tries to wake up an unconscious Spock. It's a small but poignant scene in which McCoy expresses to Spock that he's missed him, despite all their arguing and bickering. It's a great character moment because it shows that no matter their difference, these two are close friends. Kelley's performance is right on the money.

Shatner plays Kirk here as rather subdued and somber, having just lost his best friend, a brother. It's probably Shatner's finest performance as Kirk, portraying his grief and determination wonderfully. Particularly well handled is Kirk's reaction to the death of his son at the hands of the Klingons, immediately followed by Kirk's determination to defeat the Klingons in true Kirk fashion. As McCoy states, Kirk turns "death into a fighting chance to live". Shatner is brilliant.

Two major shocks come within a matter of minutes of each other. When the Klingons reach Genesis, they destroy the U.S.S. Grissom and take Saavik (here portrayed rather blandly by Robin Curtis), David and a young, regenerating Spock captive. When confronted by the Enterprise, the Klingons unknowingly cripple the starship, manned only by Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu. In an attempt to get the secret of Genesis, Klingon Commander Kruge orders the execution of one of his hostages, resulting in David's death as he saves Saavik from being executed. As mentioned before, Shatner portrayal of Kirk's grief is wonderful.

Within only a matter of minutes, in a last-ditch attempt to save his crew, rescue his friends from the planet below, and beat the Klingons, Kirk sets the auto-destruct sequence on the Enterprise, destroying the ship and the Klingon boarders. The sequence is suspenseful and shocking, providing the plot twist just as shocking as Spock's death in the previous film. It's rather appropriate, and more on that in a moment.

The Search for Spock is a mirror of The Wrath of Khan. Khan is most definitely a hard act to follow, near impossible really, but The Search for Spock lives up to the challenge by being a companion, if not an equal. While The Search for Spock comes themes that parallel The Wrath of Khan, particularly with life and death. In order to save Spock, Kirk must sacrifice everything for a man who gave his life for everything.

At the end of Khan, Spock dies during the birth of the Genesis planet. In Spock, the Genesis planet dies during the "rebirth" of Spock. Just as Kirk rediscovered his son at the end of Khan, here Kirk regains Spock just as he loses his son. And just as Spock sacrificed his life to save the Enterprise, the Enterprise is sacrificed to save Spock. The parallels to this film's predecessor are quite poignant.

The film ends rather anticlimactically with the resurrection of Spock, but given everything that has happened over the course of this movie and the one before it, it's rather fitting and somber. And the final scene between Kirk and the fully restored Spock (finally portrayed by Leonard Nimoy) is wonderfully written, acted and directed. It makes for a very poignant and touching finale, one that the film deserves. James Horner's score during the return to Vulcan is rather powerful and effective as we witness the approach of the captured Klingon vessel, and

James Horner's score is strongest during the return to Vulcan, the prologue and credits, and the theft of the Enterprise. His Klingon theme is rather forgettable and no where near as strong as Goldsmith's theme for the Klingons. His score is rather derivative of his own score for The Wrath of Khan, but it is still quite strong, if not original.

The special effects are strong, but are limited due to a small budget, but they are still good. The effects are strongest during the destruction of the Enterprise, which remains the film's visual standout.

The film's major setbacks remain a predictable outcome, as well as a lackluster villain who is only passable. Could The Search for Spock have been better? Probably. But given it came on the heels of The Wrath of Khan, it's a strong and worthy sequel, and probably the strongest of all the "odd-numbered" films.

(of 4)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Directed by: Nicholas Meyer
Produced by: Harve Bennett
Screenplay by: Jack B. Sowards (uncredited: Nicholas Meyer)
Story by: Harve Bennett & Jack B. Sowards (uncredited: Samuel Peeples)
Production Designed by: Joseph R. Jennings
Edited by: William P. Dornisch
Music by: James Horner

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Ricardo Montalban, Kirstie Alley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols. Mimi Besch, Merritt Buttrick, Paul Winfield, Judgson Scott

1982 / 116min / Rated PG

Admiral James T. Kirk returns to the U.S.S. Enterprise, which has been turned into a training ship for a group of Starfleet cadets. Unhappy in his new post and not in command of a starship, Kirk struggles with aging and death when an old nemesis, Khan, escapes after fifteen years of imprisonment on a desolate world and seeks revenge on Kirk for the death of his wife.

Despite being a success at the box office, Star Trek: The Motion Picture had been costly and not as big a success as Paramount Pictures would have liked. In an attempt to cut back on costs and increase profit, series creator Gene Roddenberry was forced out of production and Harve Bennett was brought in to produce a less expensive film. Bringing a young Nicholas Meyer on board who evoked a sense of swashbuckling adventure that matched the atmosphere of the original series, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has become the definitive Star Trek movie.

The space battles are wonderful. From the first suspenseful buildup to attack to the grand finale in the heart of the Mutara Nebula, the battles are tense, thrilling and wonderfully realized, playing out like two sea ships duking it out on the high seas. What's even greater about the battles is that they are not won by strength, they are won by wit and knowledge. Kirk doesn't defeat Khan by being stronger or smarter, after all, Khan is a genetically enhanced being. Any direction confrontation would certainly result in Khan's victory. But in the end it is Kirk's experience as a starship captain that allows him to conquer Khan in the end. What's great about this is that it plays back to the character element of age touched upon in the beginning. Were it not for Kirk's age and experience, it's most likely Khan would've won. Which is why Kirk ends up instructing a young Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik on the importance of knowledge and strategy. To-date, no Trek battle has out-done what is done here.

The characters and performances are wonderful all across the board. The original cast are at
their best here, particularly Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley. They are comfortable in their roles and don't seem as awkward or lifeless as they did in The Motion Picture. One of my big complaints about The Motion Picture was the lack of interaction between The Trio (Kirk, Spock and McCoy). While that interaction is limited here as well, it is beautifully handled. Nimoy and Kelley are wonderful as they bicker about the implications of the Genesis device, while Shatner is amusing as he sits back and watches, exasperated. The chemistry is best at the climax, but more on that in a minute.

Khan is wonderfully written and portrayed by Ricardo Montalban. You know what he wants and why he wants it, and you really do believe in his anger and vengeance as he sets out to kill Kirk. Montalban's performance has become the definitive Star Trek villain. He's grand, over-the-top and yet not so much that he hams it up. Montalban has yet to be topped by any villain in any Trek incarnation.

Kirstie Alley is instantly loveable as Lt. Saavik, the half-Vulcan/half-Romulan protege to Spock. This was the performance that made people notice Alley, and it's too made she was not brought back to continue the character in the next sequel.

The key to Wrath of Khan's success is that it managed to capture the fun and adventure of the original series. The characterization that was missing from The Motion Picture is presented perfectly here. Probably the best decision that Nicholas Meyer made (Meyer wrote the screenplay in 12 days from a collection of previous drafts) was to give Kirk glasses. This one small gesture shows that these characters are in a different place from where they were when the series ended, something The Motion Picture did not accomplish. They humanized them, made them mortal, and increased the emotional impact of the grand finale.

Khan's emotional payoff does not come from his defeat and death, but instead in the best death
of and Star Trek character. Adding to that impact is that it is also Trek's most popular and beloved character, Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock. It is one of the most touching and poignant moments of any of the Trek films. The performances are perfect, from Kelley's McCoy trying to stop Spock, to Shatner's portrayal of Kirk's grief both in the death scene and the funeral, to Nimoy's portrayal of Spock's death. The writing hits all the right notes, with all the right things being said. It's not how much is said, but what is being said. This probably would not have been so emotional or touching had it not been for the buildup and characterization established throughout the film. This is why characterization and development are so important, and this film really hits a grand slam.

At the heart of the film is Nicholas Meyer's focus on the cycle of life and death. Kirk's constant attempts to cheat death, to the discovery of new life in Kirk's long-lost son, Spock's death intercut with the birth of a new world are wonderfully handled by Meyer. It brings it all into focus. It's not just a movie where things happen, it's a movie that is about something. Spock's death, as tragic and heartbreaking as it is, off-sets the discovery of Kirk's son. Meyer handles the movie's themes so wonderfully you barely notice them as they're happening at all.

The Wrath of Khan is the definitive Star Trek movie. Each film, in some way, has tried to capture that same magic, but to varying degrees of success and none anywhere near the magic that is captured here. Everything is perfect, the writing, Nicholas Meyer's flawless direction, James Horner's swashbuckling score, the effects, the performances. The Wrath of Khan established how to make a Star Trek movie and launched the franchise into a bold new direction. If you want to make a Star Trek movie, this is the one to look to as the perfect example.

(of 4)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Directed by: Robert Wise
Produced by: Gene Roddenberry
Screenplay by: Harold Livingston
Story by: Alan Dean Foster
Cinematography by: Richard H. Kline, A.S.C.
Production Designed by: Harold Michelson
Edited by: Todd Ramsay
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Stephen Collins, Persis Khambatta, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols

1979 / 136min. / Rated PG (Sci-Fi Action and mild language)

Ten years after its cancellation from television, Star Trek: The Motion Picture marked the first voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the big screen. Even though it launched a film franchise of eleven motion pictures (each of varying success), Captain Kirk and company's first motion picture journey was to mixed results.

When a mysterious cloud plots a destructive path through the Klingon Empire into the heart of the Federation, destroying anything in its path and threatening Earth, the newly-refitted Starship Enterprise is launched before she is ready. Kirk resumes command of the Enterprise, removing it from the young Wilard Decker, who holds a grudge against Kirk for demoting him from his rightful position of command.

As much as it was a result of Paramount trying to capitalize on the success of Star Wars and the renewed interest in Science Fiction, The Motion Picture is more like 2001: A Space Oddysey then it is Star Wars. The Motion Picture is overly long and dull. Too much time is spent on special effects sequences that go on for endless spans of time. While the director's cut (released on DVD in 2001) is able to tighten the pacing, it is not enough to keep it from becoming a snooze-fest. While the special effects are impressive (although some do not hold up to the test of time) and the first fly-by of the refitted Enterprise is glorious, all of this could have been trimmed significantly. Too much emphasis is placed on the visual effects then on the actual story and character interactions.

Another of the film's problems is that this lays the groundwork for some what would lead to
Trek's eventual "falling out"; it's becomes caught up in its own tech. Much of the first half hour is spent showing off the new Enterprise. While impressive as the sets appear (for 1979, that is) and are significantly improved over the television sets that look like they could fall over at any moment, too much time is spent showing them off. It's as though the filmmakers are screaming "look how cool this thing looks"! At the same time, the improved look of the Enterprise is a big improvement over the series model.

Much of the first part of the movie is spent on technical jargon and focuses on tech problems that add nothing of significance to the plot. While the initial transporter incident allows for the return of Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), there are things that really could have been left on the cutting room floor. The entire wormhole sequence was completely unnecessary, and resulted in nearly ten minutes of screen time being wasted. This could have been cut and never have been missed.

What adds to the film's dullness is that it lacks real heart. The characters feel flat and dull. It's hard to really care about them. As much fun as it is to see the original characters return, they're dull and not given much growth. We aren't really given a chance to catch up because of all the focus given to the look of the film. While we care about them, it's only because we know who they are. Whereas the new characters of Decker (Stephen Collins) and Ilia (Persis Khambatta) are given no time to develop. While it is told they have a history, it really isn't shown, even though that history and the "feelings" they have for one another play significantly into the conclusion. And unfortunately because of a lack of material to work with, the entire cast almost seems uninterested and are only going through the motions.

DeForest Kelley is strongest as the lovable Dr. McCoy, but he's not given much to work with, walking on and off the bridge at random. There's is one scene where he walks in, watches for a couple minutes, then walks off without anything to contribute. His best moments are when he first boards the ship with the trademark McCoy rant, and later in the captain's cabin when he chews Kirk out, calling him out on his obsession with the Enterprise and that he has no intention of returning the ship to Decker. Unfortunately, Kelley isn't given enough to do.

One of the biggest disappointments is the lack of interaction between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. One of the things that made Star Trek so wonderful was the wonderful chemistry, bickering and dialogue between these three. Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley had such great chemistry in the series, chemistry that is present here, but is so brief that you'll miss it if you blink. Had this interaction and their chemistry been played up a little more, The Motion Picture might truly have had a little more heart.

The Motion Picture does get some things right. Jerry Goldsmith's score is grand and majestic,
probably the best Trek score to-date. The main theme (the Enterprise theme) is not only my favorite Trek theme, but probably one of my favorite movie themes of all-time. It is so dynamic it can be used almost any instance. It's so great that Gene Roddenberry chose to use it as the main theme for The Next Generation. Goldsmith's love theme for Ilia is one Trek's most romantic theme and is unforgettable. It's a real shame that Goldsmith, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work, did not get what he deserved.

One of my biggest complaints about the Star Trek movies is that they feel small. They don't feel like big space epics. A lot of that is because of Paramount's desire to keep the budget under control. The Motion Picture, though, has that grand and epic feel. It feels like a big event movie and doesn't feel like it could've been told in a TV series. It's this feeling that helps improve The Motion Picture.

The Motion Picture is also probably the only Trek film that is most like the series in its attempt
to be cerebral. It doesn't try to to be exciting, it tries to make you think, particularly with its examination of the question Spock poses, "Who am I? Is there nothing more?" While this is what Star Trek has always attempted (make people think), the lack of heart and engagement detracts from the significance of the finale.

Speaking of the conclusion, almost two hours of the movie is spent building up to a big encounter with V'Ger. The question is pondered throughout, "Who is at the heart of this cloud?" and "Can they be reasoned with?" Unfortunately the payoff is rather disappointing and anticlimactic as we discover just who (or what) V'Ger really is, its origins, and why it is on a quest to reach Earth. It's really these questions that question that keeps the viewer interested in an overly long and dull movie. Had the conclusion been more fulfilling, The Motion Picture most likely would've been a much stronger movie.

The Motion Picture might be a mixed bag of a movie, but it does have its moments and was a big enough success to launch off the Star Trek franchise. With a little more editing both in script and in the editing room, a little bit more character and heart, The Motion Picture could've become a great Sci-Fi classic and the definitive Trek film. As is, though, despite its attempts to be thought-provoking and significant, The Motion Picture is overly long, dull and unengaging, much to its detriment.

(of 4)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is This a Good Sign?

I for one don't view box office receipts as being a way to measure the quality of a movie. After all, The Phantom Menace made over $400 million but was not a good movie. It is, in fact, the only Star Wars movie that is not a part of my DVD collection. However, I do know that in order for there to be further incarnations of a favorite film/TV franchise, there must be success in the box office.

As much as I'd like to say I don't care whether or not Star Trek is successful just as long as it's good, I want to see more! So I care about both.

A year ago, a little movie called Iron Man opened to almost $100 million its opening weekend and went on to gross $318 million domestically, second in 2008 only to another little movie called The Dark Knight. A lot of that success was to due advanced ticket sales. So is this article any indication of good things to come?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Which Character Are You?

I have spent the last hour or so trying to figure out which character I am from various shows/series. Let's just say, it produced interesting results.

Star Trek
Your results:
You are An Expendable Character (Redshirt)

An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Deanna Troi
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Geordi LaForge
Jean-Luc Picard
Mr. Scott
Will Riker
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Sulu
Since your accomplishments are seldom noticed,
and you are rarely thought of, you are expendable.
That doesn't mean your job isn't important but if you
were in Star Trek you would be killed off in the first
episode you appeared in.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

Take the Star Trek Quiz

Sci-Fi Character in General (explain this one!)

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Harry Potter

Which HP Kid Are You?

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
And considering what happened in the movie, is this really a good thing?

You Scored as Anakin Skywalker

Anakin Skywalker


Clone Trooper






Obi Wan Kenobi


Padme Amidala


General Grievous


Mace Windu




Darth Vader




Emperor Palpatine


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Keeping Up with Ally

Just thought I'd post some pics of Ally that no one has seen. She's growing into a beautiful young dog! She pictures so well and Maggie and I have seriously considered if we should try to submit pictures of her to see if they can be published or put on dog food or something. Who knows? It could work!

We've just recently began to notice something in Ally's behavior. Whenever I come over to Maggie's, Ally also gets so excited to see me, jumping up and down, back and forth, onto me, onto Maggie, just smiling away! Maggie says that while Ally is excited to see her, she never gets that excited. But then last night, I got back to Maggie's house before she did and so when I went in, Ally was excited to see me, but not as excited as she normally is. But the moment Maggie got home, Ally broke out into this huge ball of excitement! We've come to realize that Ally is always excited to see us, but she is more excited to see us when we're together! It's as though she's shouting out, "We're all here together!"

I think it's so wonderful how Ally is excited when she's with both Maggie and me!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Star Trek: The Mandatory Upcoming Premiere Post (the 1st one, anyway)

Before today, I have made 30 posts since starting this blog almost a year ago, 31 if you count today's post. Of those prior 30, five have been in regards to Star Trek, and three of those have been about the upcoming movie due to hit theaters May 8th (see local listings for showtimes). Make this post 31, six about Star Trek, and four about the movie!

As anyone can tell, I am quite excited about the upcoming movie. After the letdown that was 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis (good in concept, so-so in execution) and the huge disappointment that was Star Trek: Enterprise (canceled after only four seasons on TV), I was beginning to wonder whether or not Star Trek could be truly great again.

When it was announced in mid-2006 that J.J. Abrams (the genius behind Alias, Lost and the director of the recent Mission: Impossible movie) would be producing and subsequently directing, there was a glimmer of hope. Along with him he brought Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, writers from his previous projects and the ones who also scrippted M:i:III. Abrams' team consisted of a good mix of longtime Trek fans, casual Trek fans, and people who didn't know a whole lot about it. This meant insight from people who not only knew what Trek fans liked, but also who would know what it would take for Star Trek to appeal to the casual moviegoer.

Star Trek has spent too much time being the "poor Sci-Fi cousin" (so-to-speak) of Star Wars. With seven trips to the big screen (I unfortunately include the dreaded animated flick from last summer), Star Wars has made roughyl $1.9 billion in box office receipts! Its highest grossing movie was 1999's Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which brought in $431.1 million! Each of Star Wars' installments has had an average income of $274.0 million in the box office!

And Star Trek? The franchise has taken ten trips to the silver screen since 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with a grand total of $755.6 million in box office totals. Trek's most successful film was 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (the one with the whales, for those who aren't completely familiar with the franchise) which brought in $109.7 million, and remains to-date the first and only Star Trek movie to bring in over $100 million in the box office. The closest any other film came was 1996's First Contact (the one with the time traveling Borg) and that reached $92 million. The average Star Trek film has made $75.6 million.

The last figures for the new Star Trek (no subtitle) movie placed the budget somewhere near $130 million, and that doesn't include the big marketing plan Paramount is putting behind this movie. Paramount must like what they see if they put this much money behind it. Then again, I remember hearing great things about the last flick and look where that ended up: Number 2 opening weekend ($18.5 million) behind a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy and a box office intake of $43.3 million.

What's the difference?

Star Trek has been Paramount's "golden cow", so to speak. It's been around since 1966, one of the longest running film and television franchises there is. Paramount can't allow it to die, what franchise does that leave them? So in an attempt to jump-start the franchise, J.J. Abrams was called upon and the decision was made to go back to the beginning. Star Trek is the origin story of Kirk and Spock and how they came to be aboard the Enterprise. Paramount is banking on the success of recent origin story/reboots like Batman Begins and Casino Royale to be duplicated with Star Trek.

It's an awfully big risk to take, because if you look for people who played Batman before Christian Bale, you'll find Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. If you look for people who played James Bond before Daniel Craig, you'll discover Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. If you look at who played James Kirk before Chris Pine, you'll discover William Shatner.

That's a big difference. This is the first time in the 43-year history of the Star Trek franchise that the original characters have been recast. Star Trek fans are well-known for being extremely touchy, sensitive and very picky about their Star Trek. Why do you think the franchise has lost so much of its fanbase over the last 15 years? Because it became fragmented because you had those who preferred the original series, TNG, DS9, Voyager or Enterprise. There are fans who loved DS9 but hate Voyager, and vice-versa. There are fans who love Enterprise but hate the original series. There are fans of the original series who want this movie to fail because William Shatner's not playing Captain Kirk!

J.J. Abrams and Paramount Pictures are taking a huge risk in taking the franchise in this direction. To be honest, I don't care who plays Jim Kirk as long as they are convincing and don't make me pine (pardon the pun) for the days of Shatner as Kirk. In an attempt to try to link this new vision of Star Trek to the original, Leonard Nimoy returns as an older version of Spock. And if Leonard Nimoy's involved (remember he walked away from doing Star Trek: Generations because the script wasn't good enough) then there must be promise, right?

My big question is, what does Star Trek need to not only be fresh and original again, but to also be appealing enough to be successful?

Paramount has kicked their marketing campaign into full drive, because I have read a remarkable story about the "premiere" of the movie.

According to, tonight fans in Austin, TX were actually shown the entire new Star Trek movie instead of The Wrath of Khan and a 10 minute preview of new footage (a secret US premiere hours ahead of the gala world premiere in Sydney, Australia).

Two minutes in to the showing of Star Trek II, the film appeared to have ‘melted' and Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy came out in front of the audience holding a film can.

Nimoy asked them "wouldn't you rather see the new movie?" And apparently the crowd went wild. Nimoy stayed for the entire screening as did Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.

The full report (including photos of the event and various reviews) can be found at TrekMovie.

Talk about a surprise! And reviews are starting to come out as well!

From the Hollywood Reporter:
Putting a much-loved but over-the-hill vehicle back in shape takes more than a new battery and a lick of paint. It demands a full-bore refit, and that's exactly what J.J. Abrams has given "Star Trek."

Paced at warp speed with spectacular action sequences rendered brilliantly and with a cast so expert that all the familiar characters are instantly identifiable, the film gives Paramount Pictures a new lease of life on its franchise.

The full review can be found here.

Lewis Bazley for the In the News UK

Remakes, reboots, reimaginings - whatever you want to call return visits to oft-explored franchise, JJ Abrams' take on Star Trek is hardly a journey into the final frontier. Yet in handing the Lost creator the reins to overhaul a landmark, 40-year-old TV series with ten film spin-offs, Paramount Studios have not just kicked off an inevitably lucrative new movie saga, but also managed to give a much-parodied source new life and devotees. Abrams has more than proved his dramatic and comedic credentials in the likes of Felicity, Alias and - before it went a bit mad - Lost and revealed a surprising talent for action direction in 2006's Mission: Impossible III but in Star Trek, he is now confirmed as the one of the most talented filmmakers of his generation. The pulse-raising, balls-to-the-wall action filmmaking on show here shows he is able to breathe new life into a potentially stagnant source, to find humanity in a profoundly absurd situation and to satisfy the fanboys while attracting new converts.

Nick Curtis for the Evening Standard

Abrams's version of Gene Roddenberry's idealistic space western isn't perfect. But it is confident, clever and above all spectacular enough to please die-hard fans and newcomers alike.

Debra Craine for The Times

Just when you thought that the Star Trek phenomenon had truly run its course, along comes J. J. Abrams's stunning prequel to resuscitate the most enduring franchise in sci-fi history. The past five decades have produced five television series and ten films - not all of them successful - so veteran Trekkers had no right to expect such a dazzling and beautiful rebirth.

Kev Geoghegan for the BBC

Star Trek is a decent film that does exactly what it says on the tin. It's big, flashy and action packed with impressive special effects. Kids will enjoy it and the snappy dialogue provides enough laughs for mum and dad.

Chris Tookey for the Daily Mail

J.J. Abrams had come up with a tremendous idea, inspired no doubt by the success of Batman Begins and Casino Royale, both of which had reinvigorated tired franchises by recasting and going back to basics.

The result is not only by far the best of the 11 Star Trek movies, it must rank as the outstanding prequel of all time.
So far every review is gushing positive about this movie. For a fan who was worried about whether this would be good (after all, the same writers behind this script wrote 2007's Transformers, a movie I really didn't like), this is excellent news. And considering I've read multiple reviews stating how this movie is what the Star Wars prequels should've been, that's saying something!

But will it be enough? In order to be a success, Star Trek not only needs that big opening weekend, it's going to need staying power, and it's going to have some stiff competition this summer.
May 1: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
May 15: Angels & Demons
May 21: Terminator: Salvation
May 22: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
June 24: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
July 1: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
July 15: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Aug. 7: G.I. Joe
And somewhere in there is Pixar's latest, Up.

So despite the nothing-but-good reviews Star Trek is getting, will it be enough to be a success and keep the franchise alive?

Just a quick aside, Paramount commissioned a script for a sequel two weeks ago, so I guess they're banking on big success, but only time will tell. Opening weekend is still two weeks away.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Splish Splash

I know it's been a while since I last posted, so I thought I'd share this video that I found online this morning. I actually first saw it a few years ago and didn't rediscover it until now! Enjoy!

Warning: May be slightly "graphic".