Monday, April 12, 2010

Star Trek (2009) - Overview

I want to preface that I'm not a reviewer like the many you will find on this movie: "IT'S NOT LIEK TEH ORIGINALZZ!!" This is, in part, why I wanted to review this film. I'm going to handle it as a stand alone. If you're offended by this than you need to get over your fanboy nonsense before you read this review. Let's be fair to the film makers and not ask them to fulfill childhood idealizations. Instead, let's review what they've made: an approachable, modern-adaptation of Star Trek that still tries to maintain its origins either in fanservice or in actual similarities. I don't think it succeeds on all these fronts, but it certainly tries and for that I give it a lot of credit. It's not easy to tackle something like that, especially when Star Trek was very popular and definitely would not be approachable to a large audience today.

The characters are mostly fanservice, except I feel that Spock and Kirk are relatively well built. Spock is extremely interesting as a character and very well fleshed throughout the film, albeit his character arch has a somewhat dull peak. The focus on Kirk actually suffers quite a bit because Spock's internal conflict and development are so much more well done he becomes a much more intriguing character by the end. Kirk has a very interesting back story but the audience never gets to see why he makes the choices he does or see him really become something more because of these drives deep down. Instead he simply pulls through, and we lose a character arch with him almost completely.

The plot has quite a few holes in it, including black holes, but I won't really break down all these elements here. There are quite a few moments I had to sigh a sigh of inconsistency, roll my eyes at forced action or drama, or cross my arms indignantly at overbearing and forced comedy. Still, the plot had some very strong elements considering it dealt with black holes, time travel, and Leonard Nimoy.

The themes to this film are very simple, but worth exploring nonetheless: emotions vs. logic and friendship. I must say, considering what Star Trek, a sci-fi masterpiece, is capable of exploring, they certainly did go with the easy stuff, which is sad, really, because the film merely does an average job doing so. As I said, the character arcs in both Spock and Kirk are disappointing, and as such we lose the fuel powering the two themes. Spock in himself exemplifies the theme of emotion vs. logic, and since his character arc is stifled in the culminating action sequence and is instead glossed over with a fanservice conversation with himself, we lose the poignancy. We lose the power in the friendship theme only in that we never really see Kirk and Spock truly come together. You may argue that it occurs when they storm Nero together, but that's not really the case. Even when they go together they don't do it on agreeable terms, and though they work together from then on it merely shows they have a common goal, not that they are friends because of it. They then split up on the mission, and they never really have a moment to finish this arc either. I almost feel like several scenes were just cut out of this film or they just changed the ending completely. There's just no follow through with the two main characters, which shows in the themes being undermined.

The Tone is a conflicted one, at best. It spends a certain amount of time being an action film, then a sci-film, then a comedy, then finally a fanservice. In turn, it fails to really be anything original as a stand alone film. It clearly wanted to be as approachable as possible to as large an audience as possible, in which it does very well. Even I loved watching every moment of its cotton candy existence. Then it dissolved immediately in my mouth and I'm left with this utter yearning for more, since it was only fluffy sugar.

And as far as a feminist critique of this film is concerned: there are no women. The only female character remotely interesting fades into the background once the plot truly begins rolling and she becomes solely "love interest" material. I suppose we could technically claim Spock's mother, but she's also so minor as a character it would be difficult to break her down. She is, however, really important in her importance on Spock and his development as a character. Still, she kind of fits the stereotype female as she represents the emotional side of Spock and is the source of it, genetically. And of course, that makes Spock's father the Vulcan and therefore completely logical one. So there is a bit of undertone sexism going on, but it was more likely unintentional. Still sexist, but at least it wasn't deliberate or an extremely horrible piss all over the female gender.

1 comment:

Marc DiPaolo said...

I think you pegged it.