Friday, May 15, 2009

The Bright Side: Nemesis is Still Worse

Although I'm not sure I can really see "better than Nemesis" as a bright side. Maybe the bright side was the literal bright location in every single scene when the camera panned across some bright light obscuring my vision of what was going on.

To be fair, the actors were quite good. Especially Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban. Those guys made the movie feel like Star Trek.

And that's the only reason I didn't walk out.

It's no secret that I'm a trekkie. I call myself TrekkieGod. This blog is called "The Trekkie Deity Speaks." I have the code Data used to lock down command functions in the episode "Brothers" memorized (173467321476-Charlie-32789777643-Tango-732-Victor-73117888732476789764376-Lock). As a result, at least one person assumed I might dislike the movie on the basis that the reboot isn't faithful to Star Trek history, that I just might be too hardcore to accept a drastic change. Not so. In fact, there was a very clever and well explained reason for the differences between the universe of this movie and the universe the fans have come to know, and I respect and appreciate that the writers took the time to make this possible. The problem is that the explanation for this alternate history was the only time in the entire damn movie when the action stopped to tell a story. I like action movies, of course. I even like action in my Star Trek movies, but I also need a story. As it was, I think there was about twenty to thirty minutes of plain dialog in a 127 minute film.

Allow me to demonstrate, without really adding many spoilers. The movie begins with a space battle. This is followed by a car chase. Then we have our first meaningful dialog, on Vulcan (although even then there was a fight scene in the middle). Then we have a bar fight, followed by some comical scenes of Kirk sleeping around and cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. Those are nice references to please the trekkies, but in the end they just weren't very funny. For that matter, neither were the stupid giant swollen hands or anything else that happened during the attempt at comedy in the scenes that followed. I could live with those scenes though: Even if they weren't funny, they were more entertaining than watching CGI battles for the rest of the movie.

After we get the swollen hands problem solved, we enter another battle scene. Then a sky-diving scene and a space-sword vs. space-axe battle (seriously). Some more free-falling and running, and then we have some meaningful dialog again. The crew tries to decide what's happening and why, and Spock and Kirk disagree on the course of action. This disagreement somehow ends with Kirk being marooned into an ice planet where we get some more action scenes: this time of Kirk running from bad CGI. Then we finally get to the story of this movie, but even that's interrupted by action scenes in flashbacks. Following a nostalgic meeting with another crewmember we get to, you guessed it, another action scene, this time one meant to be comical. This is followed by a fight scene, another space battle, and hand to hand combat (with phasers, not swords and axes this time--an improvement). The movie finally ends after that.

Maybe what I'm complaining about can best be summarized by this Onion video, but the truth is that the video actually has it right, even if they are making fun of us for liking the boring stuff. Twenty minutes of dialog and 107 minutes of senseless action? I think JJ Abrams got his proportions reversed, twenty minutes of action is really all you need. JJ also needs to quit this trend of late with directors thinking that it's artistic to make it as difficult as possible to focus on objects in a scene. The experience does not get better by shaking the camera, by turning it 45 degrees every five minutes, by focusing on an insignificant part of what's going on such as a photon tube, or by introducing lens flare everywhere. And as far as storytelling and plot devices go, it's a bad idea to use a plot device merely to get you back into the action. If transporters have distance limits, that's a plot device that gives you a challenge to overcome, it gives you a story to tell. If you instead waive that problem away with a magical wand simply so we can get back to the CGI, you make me bored.

Currently this movie has a 96% rating on rottentomatoes. Honestly, I think that's because the non-trekkies got an action movie and the trekkies got to see their favorite characters on the screen again. Give it some time, and I predict this movie will be thoroughly forgotten.