May 8th, 2009


A Most Excellent Star Trek

A Comment on Movie Perfection

The Usual Suspects is one of my favorite movies, in part because of the deliciously perfect way it has been assembled. You have this great cast of characters, this incredibly convoluted plot, and when you get to the end you say "Oh no..." and immediately want to see it again. And you do. And realize it was all in vain, because it is all a wonderful lie.

The track record of the previous Star Trek movies is pretty spotty. It doesn't mean we didn't rush out and go see it. It just means they aren't quite in the same league as Really Great Movies. But the pressure that Star Trek fans can put on any new project is tremendous. The serious fans know the Star Trek canon backwards and forwards. And the hard core OST -- "original Star Trek" -- fans are a very tough crowd.

I am here to tell you that J.J. Abrams has pulled a real rabbit out of the hat here. The ad phrase "This isn't your father's Star Trek" is literally true. This is an alternate Trek, in the best sense of the word, and is from the opening moments of the film to the credits.

Trust me. I think Star Trek fans can live with this.

Star Trek in IMAX [PG-13]
Celebration Cinema North IMAX, 7pm

We chose to go the IMAX route on first viewing, because we could. As I mentioned the other day, we were surprised to still get tickets on Wednesday morning. The perfect spot in this theatre is dead center in row 4 -- we were slightly off from center in row 3, which was good enough. Settle back and let it unfold.

The new Spock I knew would be perfect. Even before I saw the make-up, I knew he'd be right. Indeed, the cast is spectacular. McCoy especially, though having Simon Pegg as Scotty is somewhat inspired. The only one I might quibble with is James T. Kirk, who is scrappy and reckless in a way that is more raw than the young Shatner. But... there's a reason for that and I'm willing to accept it for the moment.

Just as Battlestar Galactica modernized the old designs, while keeping up appearances, Federation starships look like Federation starships, old school of course, and shuttlecraft look like shuttlecraft. And for several crucial scenes, the vacuum of space is silent.

This is not a secret, I don't think, but we begin on the USS Kelvin and when we meet Captain Kirk, it's Daddy, not sonny boy. Events are set into motion which bring out starship crew together years later -- set in motion by a distressed madman. Or mad Romulan, actually. He's the weakest link in the whole movie, by the way. We get scant mention of his motivations and just have to deal with him. That's okay, but we're not talking Khan-level villainy here.

Numerous times in the film, things happened or characters voiced lines we expect them to say and we were greeted by polite applause from the sold out audience -- and cheers at the end. There's humor here and a few surprises. I suppose some will not settle well with some people.

Okay, so I've not told you a damned thing about the movie, have I? What I have tried to do is let you know that I think they've done a good job. This is a re-imagining of Star Trek, this is a New Trek. There is, I have heard, already work being done on a second script.

I think the Star Trek franchise is in good hands for now.

Highly Recommended

Dr. Phil

Another Who Is Unclear On The Process

Arrive At Office, Voicemail Light Is On

Dial voicemail, then access code. First message.

The first (and only message) is from someone who mumbles their first name. Then gives their phone number. "I don't have access to the Internet. But I need the phone number of the real Dr. Phil."

Okay, let's remind you here, Sparky. I AM a real Dr. Phil.

Now, I will concede that there are other Dr. Phils out there, and one other Dr. Phil in particular of whom I believe you are speaking. But there is not a Dr. Phil Club where we have super sekrit meetings and trade phone numbers. I certainly don't have TV Phil's phone number, and anyway, it isn't my business to enable you to contact so-called entertainment/psychology shows.

What is strange is that you claim you don't have access to the Internet. Then how did you get my office phone number at Western Michigan University? I checked -- and area code 306, the one given in the voice mail, is in Saskatchewan CANADA. WTF?

No, really.

What you really need to do is go to your public library and get some help from a reference librarian. At the very least, they'll be able to pull up the Dr. Phil Show FAQ page and discover they don't have a direct phone line to Dr. Phil either.

I swear, someone must be making money given people my office contact information and swearing that I can get them in touch with "the real Dr. Phil".


Dr. Phil