STAR TREK BEYOND–REVIEW

beyondLast night my wife and I went out and watched the new Star Trek film with some great friends that go way back to college. I was fairly nerding out, because I wore my LLAP–Live Long and Prosper–shirt.

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I’m the one in the cool shirt #LLAP

 

Only mild spoilers follow–but nothing significant.

First Take

On first take, the movie was fun. If you like Star Trek, you’ll at least like this movie. It wasn’t the greatest, it wasn’t the smartest, it wasn’t the best plot, but it was Star Trek. In fact, it was super Star Trekky. My friend and I had the same observation leaving. We both felt like it was an episode of TOS (The Original Series) on steroids. In fact, no Star Trek fan would have been surprised by any of the material in the movie, but would have loved every bit of it as familiar, like a comfortable pair of jeans, or an old friend.

The acting, as always, was great. I am really digging the ensemble cast. Anton Yelchin will be greatly missed in the future. Karl Urban has nailed Dr. McCoy. I am certain DeForest Kelley is smiling, as is Leonard Nimoy.

Idris Elba’s talent, though, was mostly wasted. As is typical in Trek films, the bad guy is usually just too much of a cliche to be much of a real character. The only exception, of course, is Ricardo Montalban. And the Borg Queen.

The only technical thing that bothered me was the blurriness of the Justin Lin action sequences. At times it was difficult to discern exactly what was going on.

Second Take

I turn to my 16 year old sprout for analysis. She and the older sprout saw the film in a different theater from us. The first thing she said to me was, “It reminded me of Insurrection.”

She’s right. The crew on a planet. Something about stopping aging, and a doomsday weapon.  Yeah, that’s Insurrection alright.

I also spotted a lot of Star Trek: Enterprise in there, too. Enterprise was the worst of all the TV shows, but in the Kelvin Timeline (which started with the JJ Abrams reboot) the only television show still active is the Scott Bakula led Enterprise. There were so many references to that failed endeavor–the ship, the Xindi, MACO, and the jumpsuits–all come flooding back. Scotty even shouts at one point something about, “Polarizing the hull plating.”  Really?

Really?

The sad thing is, as much as I disliked Enterprise, there was great satisfaction in seeing all of that. It was the first of the reboots that really deals faithfully with the universe we Star Trek fans love so much. Now all I’m waiting for is a movie that features Voyager references or a very angry Benjamin Sisko.

Third Take

I tried to stay away from reviews, because I don’t like spoilers. The thing I heard the most was about the Sulu character’s sexuality.  Spoiler–he is gay. I didn’t think this was a big deal, and it wasn’t really a big deal in the movie. It reflects what we might expect in the Roddenberry view of the future. Anyone upset about a gay Sulu or troubled by that needs to remember all the aliens Kirk and Riker bedded. Does anyone remember the opening sequences of Star Trek Into Darkness where Kirk is in bed with two aliens that have feline tails? If differing sexuality troubles you, I suggest you steer clear of Star Trek. In contrast, there was almost no actual sex or romance in this film–in contrast to so many of the others.

The reference to Beastie Boys as ‘classical music’ was hilarious and typical Star Trek, which is always trying to shove contemporary elements, like Nazis, the US space program, or Roswell into the plot. Besides, one of the coolest Sci-Fi things ever was the use of “All Along The Watchtower” in the Battlestar Galactica series.

I hated the motorbike, though. Hated. It. Completely.

Final Take

If you like Star Trek, I think you’ll love it. There are tons of Easter eggs for you. If you like Sci-Fi in general, you’ll like it. If you like space movies, you’ll like it. If you’re looking for something like Wrath of Khan or The Voyage Home, you’ll be disappointed.

 

 

LUKE SKWALKER VERSUS SPOCK

Its ridiculous.

I know that, so don’t point it out and indulge me.

I was wearing one of my favorite Christmas presents this week, which is a black t-shirt with LLAP on it. Of course, LLAP is short for the Vulcan greeting and salutation, “Live long and prosper.”

Somehow in the course of the day, I began to think about who I would rather have in a pinch–a Jedi or Spock?

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In my honest opinion, Luke Skywalker is the greatest of the Jedi because he defeated Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and only had about forty five minutes of training from Yoda to learn everything. There might be other, greater Vulcans than Spock, but he is the one I know the most about, and he is the only Vulcan who has the coolness factor.

Just to clarify, when I say Spock, I mean Leonard Nimoy as Spock.

So, Luke Skywalker and Spock are in a pitched battle against each other for survival. Who do you got?

I got Spock. I think if they were at odds with each other, Spock would win nine times out of ten. Here is why.

  1. Jedi are stupid. Their abilities make them intellectually lazy. That is the only explanation I have for why they didn’t spot Palpaltine as Sith, or why Yoda and Kenobi didn’t both go after Palpatine together, then Vader.  Why divide up like that? Oh, I know, stupid.
  2. It might take time, but Spock would invent some kind of device that would neutralize Skywalker’s lightsaber.
  3. Do you think Jedi mind tricks would work on Spock. Of course not.
  4. Vulcans have their own paranormal mumbo jumbo going for them, which would offset some of Luke’s Jedi powers. Spock did one time mind meld with a brick, remember?
  5. In a world with Jedi, Spock would have a blood sample with midi-chlorians, find a way to kill them, and thus end Skywalker’s powers. He could defeat Skywalker without having to kill him.
  6. Spock would dodge one slash of the lightsaber, then put a Vulcan nerve pinch on Luke. Game. Set. Match.

I’m sure I missed something, but I think Spock would make quick work of the Jedi master. Now, give me some time to think about James Bond versus Harry Potter.

MY TOP FIVE SPOCK MOMENTS

Like a lot of folks in the kingdom of nerdom, I was rather startled to learn yesterday, while picking out fresh ingredients for pico de gallo, that Leonard Nimoy died at the age of 83.  Suddenly the freshness of the cilantro didn’t quite matter as much.

To help us all work through it, I’ve thought about my favorite Spock moments.  Of course, I know that Nimoy was more than Spock, which was only a role he played.  He was a human being with a private life, family, ideas, and feelings that most people probably don’t know about.  However, Spock was his primary conduit into my life, and it was his life’s work, therefore this is how I remember him; this is my en memoriam.

#5–Evil Spock with the beard (Episode titled Mirror, Mirror)

The Dark Side of Spock
The Dark Side of Spock

In the parallel, mirror universe, Spock is logical, but cruel and evil.  He also has the best use of a beard in the history of anything.

#4–Spock putting the Vulcan death grip on that loud mouth metal-music guy in Star Trek IV.

You remember the scene, right?  The crew is back on earth in 1980 something trying to steal a whale to come talk to the space probe in the future that is killing earth.  Spock and Kirk are riding a public transit bus in San Francisco, and this headbanger has his jam box blaring awful music.  Kirk asks him to turn it down a time or two, but the guy just turns it up.  Then Spock calmly puts the Vulcan pinch on him and he passes out and the music is silenced.  Everyone on the bus erupts in applause.

The scene is funny, but it is also ironic.  During the television show, Spock was somewhat of a hippie.  There is even one episode where he hangs out and plays music with space hippies.  Spock can dig the peace and love counter-culture, but he has zero tolerance for angry and mean counter-culture.  I’m with Spock on that one.

#3–Spock thinks he killed Kirk, all because of a woman (Episode titled, Amok Time)

This is an episode long memory that features Spock as the main character.  Spock is in the middle of the pon farr, which is the mating season for Vulcans.  It comes around every seven years and causes the logical race to lose their mind with hormone induced instincts.  Kirk takes Spock back home to Vulcan (I believe this is the only original series episode set on Vulcan) where a woman, his betrothed, has set up an elaborate plan to get Spock killed so she can be with her new boyfriend she met while Spock was gallivanting around the universe.

In a wicked maneuver, she sets the parameter where Spock has to fight Kirk, to the death, and Spock is in the pon farr, so he has no rational thinking about what he is doing.  Of course, Spock can kill Kirk without even trying hard, so McCoy rigs up an artificial death for Kirk.  Spock thinks Kirk is dead, and then he loses the girl because she chooses the other guy, so he goes back to the Enterprise the most dejected person you can imagine.  He killed his best friend and captain, he lost the girl, and now his career is over.  But when he sees that Kirk is really alive, he has a brief moment of laughter, joy, and exuberance.  It is one of the better Star Trek moments.

#2–Spock mind-melds with Captain Picard (Star Trek:TNG Episode titled Unification, Part 2)

Here we go with the generational motif so prevalent in Star Trek.  Over the years Spock mind melds with a lot of different people and things.  Remember when he mind melded with a brick?  Yeah, that was lame.  But my favorite is when he mind melded with Picard, who, strangely enough, had also mind melded with Sarek, Spock’s father.  Spock and Sarek were, to put it in human terms, estranged.  It is through Picard that Spock finally gets some level of peace with his recently deceased father.

The two part episode of The Next Generation in which this is featured is not all that great, but this is a great moment in the Star Trek Universe.

#1–“Ship, out of danger?” spocks-death2

What more can be said?  Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan is not only the best Star Trek movie, it is in my top ten films of all time.  I’m still upset at the remake of it–yeah, I’m talking to you J. J. Abrams.

This is Spock’s Jesus moment.  He gave his life to save the lives of his friends.  No greater love has anyone than this.  In case you miss the spiritual reference, Scotty plays Amazing Grace on the bagpipes as he is launched into the void of space–symbolic of death.  However, he lands upon the Genesis planet and thus begins his own resurrection story.

Live long and prosper.

images from www.ex-astris-scientia.org and scifilounge.blogspot.com