(2009) dir. J.J. Abrams
viewed: 05/15/09 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
Summer movies. Love ’em. Hate ’em. Whatever. They keep a-comin’.
Star Trek is Summer Movie 2009. And honestly, even though it opened on the first week of the summer movie season, it’ll probably be hard to top this summer, which actually looks extremely weak. And saying that is not to the film’s discredit. Heck, it’s a lot more fun than one could hope, especially anyone with any stock involved with the franchise.
Star Trek is something that has been in my life since childhood, which I have liked or appreciated, more than the non-Trekkie, yet far less than the average Trekkie. And honestly, these cult franchises are over-analyzed beyond anything. Simply put, I agree with the choir on the franchise films, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was the most successful film the television show ever spawned. The series has had ups and downs, some of which are massively embarrassing. Whatever. I give this “re-boot” its due. Let’s see what it’s got.
And it rocks, largely.
It’s not film art. It’s not true inspired genius. What is, really, these days, in the mainstream? But what it is is very good, an adept adaptation of past experience and expectation spewed out in a new way, a new way that blazes a trail for many, many sequels, bereft of franchise history issues, and open to interpretation by the creators without harshing on the mellow of the original scripture.
I have to say, in this Facebook/Twitter universe of 2009, I got the gist of the feeling on the street from postings of many friends and acquaintences who went to the film and came away anywhere from satisfied to charged by this film. And, somewhat like we see a lot in these summer action films, not screwing up is almost as good as kicking ass.
The bottom line for me regarding this new Star Trek is that it is fun. It is cool. It’s what you ask from Hollywood for a summer movie and rarely get. It’s got a ton of the insider issues and winks that should satisfy those who have nothing better to do and to make good on a fun 2 hours in the cinema. What more should one ask?
I won’t delve into the storyline other than to say that I thought it was very clever the narrative trope utilized in the film, not only for its own story, but for all future sequels and versions of this story. Time travel, re-inventing the path of knowledge and experience, an alternate reality. Hell, let’s just face it: J.J. Abrams has delivered carte blanche to a summer movie franchise built on a history that dates back to the 1960’s, long before most of its target audience was conceived, much less thought-of. And the fact that it’s a fun time, that’ll make them money in 2009, but it’s the layer upon which future summer movies will be built.
All that said, and let me be clear, I did really actually enjoy this film, more than I anticipated, but the film is very much a piece of a continuum. As a 2 hour experience today, it’s good, probably better than we have to expect til autumn 2009 (which is sad). But it’s not “cinema”. Last year, when the “tent pole” The Dark Knight (2008) wow’ed spectators and swooned them in their affection for the power of cinema, which heck… The Dark Knight was probably a better film than Star Trek, it’s still not art (in the greatest sense), even like Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), perhaps one of the best of the genre. But it is good fun.
Which, really, is all we ask of Hollywood at summertime. Give us some fun, give us a reason to go to the cinema. Make us happy. Stoke our fire.
And J.J. Abrams, for what ever else he has done, has accomplished this as much as we are like to see the rest of the hot months of 2009.