He said – She said … Star Trek

It’s time for another installment of “He said – She said” with J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated Star Trek, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and more. As always, we recommend seeing the film before reading, because we’re talking ALL aspects of the film, including plot spoilers.

Editor’s note: For the complete Scorecard Review of Star Trek, click here. Jeff Bayer gives the film a 9/10. He also had long, long conversations with Nick trying to explain to him that Star Trek is better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One key point he didn’t bring up until now is, both films use the word “engage.” The one with the claws didn’t do it justice.

It’s he (Nick Allen) and she (Morrow McLaughlin).

He Said

Bring on the phasers, photon torpedoes, and even the Romulan drills. Bring on everything you got. Because I have finally seen J.J Abrams’ heavily anticipated Star Trek reboot and I was certainly not blown away by it. In fact, yes, I did enjoy my time Wolverine more. I do not have much of my life invested in Star Trek, but I know an OK movie when I see one.

Abrams has rebooted a franchise that seems to have fallen to the geek wayside. Nowadays, it seems to be all about Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and even that little show called “Lost” (which is created by Abrams). But it doesn’t seem like people are talking about “Star Trek” much anymore. Sure, people might recognize the franchise’s lead actors or immortal phrases (“live long and prosper,” etc), but does anyone even watch this stuff on DVD anymore? Is the New Generation of Star Trek even being watched by an actual new generation?

The attempts to bring back Star Trek are admirable, as this film gives us (meaning nerds AND civilians) everything we want (and everything a summer blockbuster has to offer). There’s calculated moments of both drama and action, but neither are truly impressive. The drama usually involves one character pouring their heart out to another character in a big and weepy monologue, while the action sequences are shot with more excitement than how they are written. In fact, the ending “fight” between our hero Kirk and villain Nero still has me pondering whether the ending to Galaxyquest was actually better, and more fulfilling. That’s right. I said it. I wish I hadn’t though, because the trailer for this movie was legitimately awesome, and I was totally jonesing to actually be excited by a “Star Trek” movie.

She Said

Nick, I’m concerned about you. It’s time to stage an intervention, because it’s clear that you’ve started sniffing glue again. You do realize it kills massive amounts of brain cells, right? It isn’t just a harmless distraction after a long day of seeing subpar movies like Wolverine. It used to be that we could all ignore the problem, but it’s really starting to interfere with your work. It has to stop, Nick. Seek help now before you really embarrass yourself.

Star Trek was phenomenal. Every second of it was like movie mana from the heavens, and I’m not a trekker. Far from it–I always thought Star Trek was the dumber, uglier sibling of…cue angels singing…Star Wars. And when I saw the Star Trek preview, I thought to myself: yuck. Another rehashed idea with young, fresh-faced kippers who turn the whole production into an angsty high school play with bad CGI. Yes, Bayer then told me it was the greatest thing since the invention of cheese, so my expectations weren’t unnaturally low, but still…I honestly didn’t expect to spend the whole movie with my jaw in my lap, jumping up and down in my seat.

It was beautifully filmed. The score was impeccable. The character development was fun and frisky. The writing was absolutely wonderful. The actors were well-chosen and held their own despite the cult surrounding this franchise. The action was an exceptional, endless whirlwind of dizzy pleasures. The plot was relatively unpredictable with honest-to-god surprises tucked away in hidden corners.

Nick, there are facilities designed to help poor schmoes with your very problem. Again, I implore you, get help before it’s too late.

He Said

Morrow, I hope you don’t wake up one morning with too much “star dust” in your eyes and realize that your reaction of spending “the whole movie with my jaw in my lap, jumping up and down in my seat” is a gross exaggeration, and also uncalled for. OK movies like Star Trek don’t deserve that response, unless someone is simply happy to just see their favorite, near comatose franchise rebooted again semi-successfully with “fresh-faced kippers.”

Now, I agree that the film was beautifully filmed. J.J Abrams makes great usage of sweeping cameras and handheld cinematography, especially when trying to maneuver around the confines of a ship (either the Enterprise or Nero’s). There are two BRILLIANT moments in the film, and I think you know what they are – when Abrams allows the incredibly well animated special effects to show monumental action, all with the near silence of space. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the explosion in the beginning and the sky-diving scene in the middle. All of this is ironic however, because Michael Giacchino accompanies most of Star Trek with some beautiful music. But still, the best moments are the ones without his presence. (And for the record, I think the twelve minute score to Cloverfield is overall more impressive than all his work here.

I credit screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (they wrote Transformers), with crafting an interesting rebel out of James Tiberius Kirk (though I’m still confused by their usage of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys). They succeed in creating an unlikely duo between the All-American Kirk and the kid who would get beaten up in school by Kirk for liking a show like “Star Trek” – Spock. The acting that brings these characters to life is also very complimentary, but this is not the case for Dr. Bones, whose Tough McGruff delivery and scowl butchered the movie’s funniest lines. And though Simon Pegg is certainly not from Scotland, he did OK making us think otherwise.

But none of this work is the astronomical super-greatness that fuels the USS Overhype you and Jeff are riding on (you can choose whoever is first captain). This action was “exceptional, endless whirlwind of dizzy pleasures” must not have been on the same print I saw – I saw some pretty basic galactic fightin’ and some pretty boring hand to hand combat, essentially. Though I will credit John Cho with being a decent action star as Zulu, he doesn’t kick enough and ass the action certainly does not have the “honest to god surprises” it should have. And like I said, the final “battle” with Nero – just ends. That was whimpy and basically kind of stupid, not offering the explosive payoff I had wanted.

These surprises you speak of – could you be talking about that RIDICULOUS Tyler Perry appearance? Or the surprise that Winona Ryder is still hot even when given a bit too much old lady makeup?

She Said

I didn’t notice Tyler Perry and I HATED the fact that Winona Ryder was cast/still working/still popping out at us like a spider in the corner. The surprises I’m referring to aren’t concrete, but interjected into a plotline which was as original as it could manage under the circumstances. Obviously, with this franchise, there is a huge fanbase to please and if you piss them off, they will ultimately leave you nothing but your tears and the scorched land you used to call home. What the film did was stay true to the original story in a way that welcomed any non-fans and newcomers (such as myself).

Plus, I’m fascinated by the fact that you were able to so succinctly–in your last response–articulate what made the movie so tremendous, but you did so almost begrudgingly. You are invested in not liking this movie despite the fact that the movie was “beautifully filmed”, “Michael Giacchino accompanies most of Star Trek with some beautiful music”, “Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (they wrote Transformers), with crafting an interesting rebel out of James Tiberius Kirk”, “[the writers] succeed in creating an unlikely duo between the All-American Kirk and the kid who would get beaten up in school by Kirk for liking a show like “Star Trek” – Spock” and “The acting that brings these characters to life is also very complimentary.”

Nero, admittedly, was a disappointment and the final battle wasn’t as spectacular as the rest of the movie; but if I’m reading your response correctly, what irritated you the most was one character acting too gruff (Dr. Bones), Simon Pegg is not from Scotland (“But he did okay” you added), and “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys was used at an inopportune moment.

Your response has a lot of anger without any actual substance–aside from the points you make ostensibly for your side, which come out clearer as wins on my side.

And, yes, this is a low blow (I’m not proud of it) but Star Trek is 94% fresh on rottentomatoes.com whereas Wolverine is…not. You’re in the minority. If everyone in the world is sure it’s green and you’re the only one who thinks it’s blue, maybe it’s time for a mental reassessment.

He Said

I’m proudly pulling a Kirk and I’m going against “everyone in the world,” as you have designated.

Please don’t confuse my positive comments as a hint at my overall opinion. Sure, hating on Dr. Bones is a bit particular, but it truly brought me out of the film (and yes, into the grudge house). But it wasn’t just one thing or another that reasons why I do not find myself playing ball for your team. Basically, I thought this movie was good, not great. Though I feel I am repeating myself by saying I wasn’t fully entertained, certainly not blown into some euphoric state by this movie, it’s the truth. Nothing really knocked me out about this film, though I could sense that it was trying very hard throughout to do so.

I am aware that Wolverine is not doing well with critics (and a fair amount of fans, apparently), but I am sticking to my gut when I said I had more fun with X-Men Origins: Wolverine than I did with Abrams’ kind of fun and super flashy Star Trek. I am also aware how “dumb” some parts of Wolverine might have been, but that experience was overall more exciting to me than Star Trek.

Trust me, I wanted to like this movie – I wouldn’t have minded to love it just like you guys do. But when I left the theatre all of these feelings of elation and completion that you and Jeff seem to be feeling were not left with me. I was obviously not astronomically impressed like you guys were, but I think my somewhat content feelings towards the film are good enough. Here’s hoping that Terminator Salvation offers a more rewarding entertainment experience.

As for now, chew on my rating of 6/10.

She Said

Your 6/10 is way too gristly for me, so I think I’ll have another helping of Bayer’s 9/10.

Unrelentingly stubborn nonconformist without a cause, eh? I kinda admire that–you’re like a pitbull hanging from a tree branch: the reasons aren’t so clear, but be darned if you’re going to let go before you’re good and ready. Add with your occasional mauling of small children and domestic pets, and it’s really hard to argue with you.

That being said, this time I get the last word: this movie rocks, world. Drop what you’re doing and go see it now. For more information, please see Jeff Bayer’s insightful review.

6 Comments

  1. RAINDOGTOO says:

    I say to “She Said” Winona Ryder is F-ing AWESOME!! I am so glad she is making a comeback! She should’ve been in this film longer! Welcome back Winona! We missed you! :)

  2. webdiva says:

    Well! Morrow and Nick, I’m surprised that *both* of you missed some essentials that made the best of the Star Trek films and TV episodes great, not just good. The first is a plot that thoughtfully explores ethical dilemmas and crises of the future. There are tons of examples I can cite from the Star Trek canon and the various series, but if you can’t think of even one instance on your own, then you weren’t paying attention. This new film ignored that essential and focused far more on pure action with a thin plot instead. Plenty of whizz-bang, not much food for thought. It’s still fun, like eating cotton candy, but it doesn’t really satisfy like earlier efforts did; however, the film may have done just enough to revitalize the franchise for a bit longer, **IF** J.J. Abrams learns from these mistakes (he may not, sadly, if big box office performance distracts him).

    The second Star Trek essential is asides that demonstrate the film isn’t taking itself too seriously, and neither, perhaps, are some of the characters. Wit is always more entertaining than explosions. I’ll give you three examples from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986):

    * the scene on the bus where some biker is blaring a boombox, to the annoyance of other passengers, and Spock applies the Vulcan grip to change that — I laughed so hard the first time I saw that that tears were leaking from my eyes! the rest of the audience had pretty much the same reaction.

    * Kirk on leaving their cloaked Klingon vessel in Golden Gate Park: “Everybody remember where we parked!”

    * Dr. Gillian Taylor: Don’t tell me — you’re from outer space.
    Kirk: No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

    Finally, Nick, ‘pulling a Kirk’ does NOT consist of going against everyone else, being a contrarian, etc. It means using cowboy diplomacy, a phrase I believe the Trek world may have coined that is now in common use. It means taking action, any action, instead of trying actual diplomacy first. Just what one might expect out on the frontier, but something that was used far less often by the time Picard commanded the Enterprise and the Federation was older, larger and more established.

    BTW, I think I like Chris Pine’s Kirk much better than I did William Shatner’s Kirk in the TV series (waaaaay too full of himself, more smarmy and narcissistic than genuinely confident, and I never once believed that women in the future would find his pick-up lines remotely persuasive or that Shatner’s Kirk would, in fact, get all the girls). Pine’s take, however, gives us a good starting place to chart the long evolution of Kirk’s persona into the at last more reflective, less boorish, self-mocking Kirk who departed in “Star Trek: Generations.” Besides, young women like the bad boys until they learn differently, usually the hard way. And those eyes — WHOOOOEEEEEE! We haven’t seen blue eyes like *that* since Paul Newman died! Mmmmmmmm ….

    Karl Urban’s Bones McCoy, on the other hand, has too big a stick up his behind. The original Bones tempered his barbs and outrage with wry, dry delivery and, again, a touch of self-mockery; McCoy always knew damned well when he was being a touch too hyperbolic and could dish out his sarcasm with a wink. That’s what made his criticism easier to swallow.

    In contrast, I find the old Spock/young Spock counterpoint very credible and interesting — in fact, “fascinating!” ;) It’s also satisfying to see a younger, more enthusiastic Scotty with some of that wonder and energy still intact.

    Given all this, there might be room in the future for maybe one more outing with these younger incarnations of the original Enterprise crew we’ve come to know and love. After all, we’re curious as to how they get from here to there.

  3. Jetmech says:

    Did everyone miss the part where Scotty talks about warping Admiral Archer’s prized beagle somewhere?
    I like the mentioning of the “Enterprise” series..and John Archer’s beagle was of course named “Prothos”

  4. webdiva says:

    Um, no: it was Porthos, for one of the Musketeers (the one who liked to eat, if I recall correctly). Even if you don’t like dogs, that would have been a nasty thing to do, and it says something about Scotty I’m not sure I like …

  5. brian says:

    i just think it’s funny when nick pulls a morrow by “sticking with his gut” on wolverine. morrow’s usually the one who bases her reviews off her emotions (regardless whether or not it was a “good movie”) then nick says she’s stupid and explains in great detail why that is the case, then morrow says, “sure, but i still liked it.”

    sorry nick. i’m with morrow and jeff on this one. i’ve seen every trek movie, and this was my favorite. purely because i was entertained at all times. the first star trek was probably a better “film” but damn, there were times when i was bored to tears. not the case here.

    looking forward to the next one. nice job jj.

  6. dan says:

    I have to agree with Nick’s review a little more. I thought this movie relied to heavily on special effects and character attitude than substance. I really wanted to like this movie, and it was entertaining, but it seemed to lack something for me. I also was really bothered by the fact that Kirk is supposed to be a three year cadet in the movie who by circumstances in the field is given temporary command of the Enterprise(which in and of itself is unlikely as there would have been more experienced officers on board to relieve Spock) and is then given permanent command of the Enterprise at the end of the movie. So he goes from cadet to the rank of captain, which is the equivalent of an army bird colonel. He essentially skips over five ranks. I know it is just a movie, but that just really bothered me. I don’t see why Abrams couldn’t have come up with a more plausible way for Kirk to become captain. Would it have been so bad to start out with Kirk as a leutenant with a few years of active service under his belt?

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