Friday, May 08, 2009

Trek lightly

Well, that was disappointing.

For a person who's never seen an episode of any "Star Trek" television show, I'm a pretty big fan. Of the 10 previous films, I feel four are genre classics (The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country). I even have a soft spot for the widely derided The Final Frontier.

Now J.J. Abrams has brought his rebooted Star Trek to the screen, starting over very literally at Day One for James T. Kirk.

I thought this was a perfect fit. Trek had run out of steam in its current incarnation(s), and Abrams has proven to be one of our best filmic storytellers (don't engage me in a converation about "Alias" or "Lost" unless you have a couple hours on your hands). I walked out of the theater however, feeling let down in that Superman Returns kind of way. What should have been home runs - Bryan Singer and Supes, Abrams and Kirk - felt oddly hollow, rushed and lacking their predecessors' fire.

Star Trek is not a horrible film. I didn't glance at my watch cell phone, I didn't shift in my seat, I didn't yawn. But I also didn't care. I didn't laugh, I didn't cry, I didn't find anything to feel particularly passionate about. I say this with 100% conviction: this film's trailer is more emotionally satisfying than the film. At the point in the freaking commercial when Eric Bana's villain cries "Fire everything!" I almost teared up. It seemed such a larger-than-life moment, such an emotional apex - and in the film, it just sits there. Nothing.

Where's the wonder? The awe? When old Spock meets young Kirk, shouldn't we be thinking something other than, "Yeah right, they just happen to be in the same desolate cave?" I mean, that should be A Moment.

There's room for improvement, and I believe with this unwieldy "introduction" out of the way, the next entry will be more successful. The film is exceptionally well cast (minus Tyler Perry and Winona Ryder, who are nothing more than distracting stunts), and assuming they got all the in-jokey Trek references out already - and damn, I don't believe there could be too many more - maybe they'll build something of their own. The foundation is definitely there.

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