Old joke I used to tell... "You know the difference in Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans, right? Star Wars fans get dates."
There are two kinds of Star people in this world... Trek people and Wars people. Well, three, if you count those who just don't give a rip, but those are people I don't associate with too much (I kid, I kid!)
I have always been a Wars person. The mythology of the space lore, the mystique of the Jedi (of course, George Lucas ruined that with the whole midi-chlorian deal in "The Phantom Menace", but that's a different column), the evil of the Empire, the coolness of Han Solo, the growling of Chewbacca, Princess Leia in a gold bikini... Star Wars probably also had an unfair advantage as it was new and huge as I was growing up. I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" first in 1982, at the age of 7, then not too long after that, watched "Star Wars" probably thirty times in a month when it premiered on HBO.
Star Trek, on the other hand, was already long gone by the time I was born, or even old enough to remember what I was watching. The first movie came out in 1979, and I honestly don't even remember anything about it. Did I even see it? I'm not sure. Now, 1982's "The Wrath of Khan" was a masterpiece, and the fourth film, 1985's "The Voyage Home" was pretty good... beyond that, most of the films were pretty terrible.
I do remember watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in the late 80s, with a new episode premiering every Saturday night on CBS at 1035... but after a while, I lost interest, just catching a few here and there (the battle with The Borg was fantastic). The later movies featuring TNG cast started with 1994's "Generations", which was decent, but everything after that wasn't all that great. I actually had to look up the name of the last Star Trek film ("Nemesis" in 2002) because I couldn't remember it, and am pretty sure I've never even seen it, nor wanted to.
This blog and the paragraphs that begin it isn't about the greatness of Star Wars (at least the original trilogy, which I liken to Mark McGwire before the steroids revelations... the second trilogy is McGwire after steroid revelations, as in, still just as awesome, but missing the luster and magic), its just about setting up my thoughts on the new film "Star Trek", directed by JJ Abrams, the Lost and Alias guy, so you'll know where I'm coming from.
Not being a huge Star Trek fan, but having seen enough of it to appreciate its cultural impact, know who the characters are and understanding the villains, I was excited about this new movie coming up... it was a "rebirth" of sorts, much like "Batman Begins" was a reboot and a retelling of the story that has been told before.
"Star Trek" goes back to the very beginning, from the heroic death of George Kirk, the birth of James T. Kirk and the introduction of Spock. We also see the brand new starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, the young Bones, the young Uhura, a great Eric Bana as a Romulan bad guy, and all sorts of "Hey, I'm ---" and "I'm ---" as characters we've known forever meet for the first time.
There is a plot line here that involves black holes, time travel and a Vulcan planet, but I promise its not as convoluted as it sounds...
I loved this movie. I loved how it started, I loved the story, I loved the effects, I loved how it ended, I just thought this flick was absolutely worth the wait and just awesome. I really enjoyed how JJ Abrams didn't take the movie soooo seriously... there are a lot of Trek fans out there, so he had to walk a fine line between telling a story that people who aren't necessarily Trekkies will enjoy and want to see, and not angering or upsetting those very Trekkies who, despite the fact some of them have never kissed a girl (by the way, I looked for that Shatner SNL skit, and couldn't find it anywhere...), have basically kept the franchise alive for forty years.
Abrams does a great job at walking that line... I think anyone who isn't familiar with Star Trek will just enjoy a good science fiction story, and anyone who knows the story will recognize some of the little salutes to the original that have found its way into the film. The officer who goes with Sulu and Kirk down to the alien planet--you know he's not coming back. We know this because we've seen the show. Bones yelling, "Dammit, I'm a doctor!" and Scotty yelling, "We're giving it all she's got cap-pin!" were lines that I cracked up on, as did many other people in the theater. Even the Kobayashi Maru training scene is a throwback to the original cast, and there's a slight shout-out to the interracial barrier broken by the original series (when Kirk and Uhura kissed on television. Gasp.)
The casting was also superb... Chris Pine made for a great Capt. Kirk, but his surrounding players really made the movie shine. John Cho, an awesome That Guy character actor who criminally isn't given much to do beyond a great fight sequence that didn't last long enough, plays Sulu. John Cho is the guy in the trailer that looks all bad-A when he rips off his helmet, holding a sword around the 1:53 mark in the trailer video above. A hilarious Simon Pegg shows up later as Scotty, and has many one liners of his own. Kirk meets up with Bones McCoy early, and Bones, played by Karl Urban (Eomer in the 2nd and 3rd Lord of the Rings movies), proves to be a great comedic character, and the chick playing Uhura... well, she does a great job playing a pretty girl, let me just say that.
Of course, you have to notice Zack Quinto as Spock, in his feature film debut, though everyone knows him as Sylar from "Heroes". His Spock is amazing, and fits just about perfectly. Matter of fact, if I have to find a weakness in the entire casting process, it might be Leonard Nimoy himself, and maybe its because he's old, or maybe its because he was never that great to begin with, but all of his lines sound straight off of a cue card, and so wooden. Just sayin'.
Anyway, I can highly recommend this film to anyone who's ever had a remote interest in Star Trek, be it the Original Series, or the Next Generation, or Deep Space Nine or Voyager or Enterprise or Tribbletown or Space Babylon or Battleship Starlactica or whatever they've called the 87 spin off shoes... for any die-hard Trekkies, loosen up a little. JJ Abrams made his film in love. Its great.
Coming soon... reviews on "17 Again", "Fast & Furious", "Wolverine" and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"...