Hey folks, Harry here... I've known that JJ and the Crew of the new STAR TREK would be doing this - but isn't this a nice way to celebrate Easter with our Armed Forces? To give them a peek at something that usually they'd have to wait for a trip home to enjoy? And that JJ and Crew actually went and spent this Easter with the Troops - that's all kinds of special. Here we go - there are a few spoilers here, so boldly go if you do not wish to be spoiled... otherwise read about a special Easter delight!
Harry, I emailed you a week or so ago. I'm in the Army and deployed to Kuwait. The cast of Star Trek along with J.J. Abrams were at our camp today to premiere the new movie. Below is my review. I hope that you find it post worthy: Star Trek Review I am in the Army and currently deployed to Kuwait. We have a movie theater on post that shows “second run” movies, meaning that we get the movie about a week or two after they are released in the states. At times, a special effort is made to show the movie here on the same date it is released in the states. With that being said, I was shocked to see the movie schedule that was published for the first half of April. According to this schedule the new Star Trek movie will have a “special premier” on April 11th. I found it very hard to believe that we would be able to view a big “summer time blockbuster” movie that won’t premiere in the States for another 27 days. Sure enough, the movie actually did get played today and I was able to get in to see it not just once, but twice. Not only did the movie arrive in Kuwait, but J.J. Abrams and most of the “bridge crew” cast (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Eric Bana and Karl Urban) were here as well. The cast went out of their way to entertain us before and after the movie was shown. They were more than happy to interact with the soldiers (Eric Bana leaped out of his “reserved” seat and sat next to a female soldier who invited him next to her) and they took their time describing their experiences making the film and answering questions and requests (Quinto obliged a soldier who asked him to call his daughter back in the states and say hello to her). I was truly impressed and grateful in the fact that they went out of their way to thank us and to offer this film to us. I’ll admit that this review won’t be as objective as it could because of the way the cast lent themselves to us. My biggest thrill was walking up to J.J. Abrams after the film and having the opportunity to give him my general impressions of it. How many times does a geek like me get a chance to do that? In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a “trained” film critic. I did not study film in school and have never worked in “the industry”. I judge movies by asking this question: Did it suspend my disbelief long enough for me to want to find out how it ends? If it did, I applaud the film makers for their efforts; if not, I move on to the next experience and consider if I could have thought of a better vision. I’m of the opinion that every scene and bit of dialogue that makes its way onto the screen was put there by the film maker for a specific reason and a viewer ought to pay attention in order to get the most out of his viewing experience What I do claim to be is an avid movie fan, a die hard Star Trek geek (3 conventions under my belt, buy hey…I never wore a costume) and someone who pays close attention to detail in all movies that I watch. Like most Trek fans, I’ve been anticipating this type of movie for quite some time. I can remember reading Strangers from the Sky 20 years ago and thinking it would have been a great story to revamp the TOS Trek movie franchise by hiring younger actors to start the 5 year mission from the beginning. I cherish The Original Series and was left empty after watching Nemesis. So I had high expectations for this film and was encouraged when I learned that someone like Abrams would be creating it. This review is SPOILER FREE as I made a commitment before entering the theater that I would not divulge any plot twists or story lines of significance. Therefore, I will only give you my impressions of the film in general terms. Ok, I’m done trying to validate my credentials. Enough of this blabber; let’s get on with the review. As we say in the military, Bottom Line Up Front: This movie was fantastic in every sense of the word. Perhaps I’m being a Pollyanna because of the delightful way the cast treated us today, but I’m finding it hard to point out any faults in this flick. Not only was I able to suspend my disbelief, but I was caught up with the story and the characters all the way to the end. Just like Kirk in the movie, the audience is left hanging off the edge of a cliff time and time again. Abrams takes something that we are all familiar with, turn it on its head and present us with something that is brand new and that we can quickly embrace. But that is not to say that the movie completely disregards what we all saw on TV while we were growing up. On the contrary, Abrams pays homage to the Original Series throughout the film by including little tidbits that should resonate with the fans. The all familiar pulsating audio blips are the first sounds you hear in the movie. We finally get to see Kirk participate in the Kobayashi Maru exercise. We are finally given a reason for McCoy’s surly disposition and cynical nature. We see Pike as the strong and aggressive Starship Captain that we knew he had to be before he was doomed to a wheelchair. Early in the film, McCoy describes space as “disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence”. And that is exactly the way Abrams displays the backdrop of this story. Gone is the antiseptic nature of space and the ships that travel through it. The Enterprise is no longer a clean and sterile workplace; it is constructed of dirty and oil covered I-Beams that moan with sounds and explosions while being attacked. Space is shown as the hostile environment that it truly must be. This vision is perfectly captured during the opening scenes when a cacophony of terror within a ship instantaneously becomes absolute and sudden death in a sea of silence as a crewman is plucked out of a ship and into the void. This movie has a true ensemble cast. The supporting charters (Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, and Scotty) are elevated to meaningful positions with enough substance in the movie to make each one relevant. Sulu (oh my) is allowed to kick ass without losing the character’s intellect. Chekov is allowed to deliver comic relief without being reduced to the ship’s fool. Uhura is given a critical role in a surprising twist that makes her more than just the “gal with the thing in her ear”. And Simon Peg steals the show in every scene that he is in. Of course, the film still centers around the Kirk, Spock and (to a lesser degree) McCoy, and again, we see these characters in a new, but familiar, light. The relationships between the “Big Three” begin to develop into the familiar “trichotomy” that we are familiar with. Spoke, McCoy, and Kirk still represent the Id, Ego and Super Ego and it is very fun to watch them play off of each other. Kirk and Spock’s internal struggles (Kirk’s desire to honor his father and Spock’s need to defend his mother ) are prevalent throughout the film. . Abrams avoids the traps of other Trek films by ensuring that storyline does not depend solely on an old stand-by such as time travel (or God forbid, a halodeck program run amok). As I think everyone knows by now, time travel does occur in the movie, but it compliments this story; it does not become the story. One thing is certain however: the story told here has altered the Star Trek universe in such a way that there is no going back for any of us. And it is this point that makes this movie accomplish its goal of starting things all anew and allowing us to fondly remember old characters that we have just met. If I’m forced to find fault in the movie it would only be in a sequence in which “Spock the Elder” narrates the future events that lead up to this story. He has a lot of ground to cover and very little screen time to do it and it comes off as a bit rushed. However, the narration is absolutely necessary and I can not see how it could be avoided. One last thought: as I stated, I saw this movie in a military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) operated theater. As with all movies shown on a military base, before the film begins, our National Anthem is played. In fact, just as the lights begin to dim, everyone in the theater automatically stands and awaits the beginning of our Song. Having worn the uniform for the past 20 years, I feel the pride whenever the Song is played and I like the idea that it is the opening event for a purely American invention and pastime such as a motion picture. Just like before the opening pitch of a baseball game, I think it’s very appropriate that our country’s freedoms are honored right before a Hollywood produced movie begins showing. I’d offer that up to my civilian movie enthusiast peers as something to think about and to ponder: should we do the same thing at civilian run movie theaters? If you post this, call me Black Smoke (my first call sign from Desert Storm)