Archive for the ‘Zachary Quinto’ Category

Week Late Review: Star Trek

May 17, 2009


A while ago, I wrote the “This Week In Blockbusters” for Star Trek and indicated my excitement, despite knowing hardly anything about the basic series. Four exams and two beaches later, I finally got to watch it, and it matched and exceed my expectations. Star Trek is one of the best science fiction movies I’ve ever seen. When the biggest problem I have with it is the way Zachary Quinto stands as Spock (I tried to find a picture. It seems like his chest is stuck out and his arms are bent and pulled back), I know I have a great movie.

Star Trek opens strongly, with an intense action sequence as a gigantic Romulan ship attacks the U.S.S. Kelvin in deep space. Once the captain boards the ship, per their leader Nero’s (Eric Bana) request, he puts a young man named George Kirk in charge. Once all hell breaks loose, Kirk, as the new captain, orders the people on the Kelvin to be evacuated, including his very pregnant wife (played by the lovely Jennifer Morrison) who has just gone into labor. Once Kirk is the last one left, he realizes that he must remain on the ship to divert the Romulans long enough for the evacuees to survive. In his final minutes, as he shoots down missiles pursuing the small escape crafts, he talks to his wife one last time and helps name his son, James.

I did not expect to get chills watching Star Trek. I certainly did not expect the opening scene to pack such an emotional punch. I thought we’d have a space battle, sure, but not a story of such sacrifice and emotional weight. It’s a mythic origin, very much akin to the beginnings of various heroes throughout time (including, I have to say it because I noticed so many similarities, Superman). As I watched this scene, with its pristine special effects and its heroic message, I knew it was going to be great.

We then see the origins of a young Spock, trained in the methods of logical thinking and emotion suppression on the planet Vulcan. This might be more difficult for him than for his peers, since Spock is only half Vulcan; his mother is human (played surprisingly well by Winona Ryder). He is ridiculed by those his age and the leaders constantly underestimate his talents. He is told, “Control your emotions, so that they don’t control you,” and he learns to suppress his humanity, though it sometimes eeks out. When offered the opportunity to attend a school for higher learning “Despite his disadvantage” (aka his human mother), he refuses. He is the first person/Vulcan/living being to ever decline admission.

It’s these two early events that indicated I would love this movie. I knew it would have brains, and I knew it would have great action and special effects, but it also has heart, and I was not expecting that.

As the plot develops, we find out (what most people already know) that Nero has come from the future from the original ‘Trekverse,’ thus creating a tangent and alternate universe (the movie goes into perhaps too-much detail, making it abundantly clear that in this Trekverse, ANYTHING can happen). We also learn why he blows up Federation ships, and why he creates black holes at the core of planets. It works for the story, but the character is very one-dimensional. He’s out for vengeance, and is an evil Romulan. Got it? Good. It’s simple, but Bana plays it capably, since all he has to do is sneer and be evil, and cringe every time he hears the name “Spock.”

And about Spock. Even I got chills seeing Leonard Nimoy reprise his role (that being, future Spock, or as he’s listed “Spock Prime”). It’s great seeing him interact with young Kirk as if they’re old friends (I suppose they are, for one of them), and then later with New Spock. It works well, and serves as a nice tie-in.

Chris Pine plays James Tiberius Kirk very well. I don’t know much about Shatner’s Kirk (except, of course, for…his… stunted… speech), so I can’t compare, but this Kirk is strong, confident, often humorous, but also rebellious and risk taking (something his father was as well, and a quality he is told will work for his benefit). It’s great to see his transformation from a drunkard in a bar to the leader of the newest ship in the fleet (despite it’s slight contrivance). Overall he was very entertaining to watch, and I hope this helps push his career forward, as I’m sure it will.

The movie also made me wish I knew more about Star Trek lore, which I didn’t really think I’d care about. But even I picked up on some of the throwbacks. There’s a, “Damn it man, I’m a doctor not a physicist,” and a “I’m givin’ her all she’s got.” I did some research after seeing it, there are other little fun factoids for Trekkie fans. For instance, there’s a scene where three people sky dive and they’re each wearing different colored shirts. Those familiar with the show will realize one of them isn’t going to survive very long, based solely on his attire.

The movie is also surprisingly funny. There’s a lengthy sequence where Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) continuously injects Kirk with various medicines and antidotes in order to get him onto the Enterprise, all the while Kirk is trying to get to the deck to warn Captain Pike of an impending ambush. Okay, so writing it doesn’t sound that humorous, but it’s worth a few laughs, another thing I didn’t expect from Star Trek.

As I said, this movie exceeded my high expectations, something few movies do. It deserves all the praise it’s getting, especially for making a Star Trek movie that is entertaining and accessible to the general public whether they be Trekkies or those that are dragged there by their boyfriends and think that they hate sci-fi movies. It’s sci-fi at its best, reminiscent of the old Star Wars and a reminder of what the new Star Wars (particular I and II) could have been. J.J. Abrams has directed a fantastic space epic and once again shows his clout in movie-making. Sure the time travel story is a little contrived, and Winona Ryder plays an old lady, but they make it work for a thoroughly entertaining summer blockbuster, and somehow make Star Trek cool.

Score: 8.7/10

UPDATE: Sequel Rumors: Slashfilm has posted an article discussing the guaranteed sequel. Abrams says both William Shatner and Kahn are candidates for characters, though it’s pure speculation at this point.

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8 Faces From "Star Trek" That Every Sci-Fi Fan Knows And Loves

May 7, 2009

The reboot of the biggest science fiction franchise of our time is coming out in 24 short hours. That’s right, Star Trek, the eleventh installment of the ultimate outer space tale is getting a highly publicized, very well reviewed release. To say that the Trekkies are excited is an understatement. I have to imagine that casting a film like this is a difficult process. Not only do you have to find actors that are relatively known and marketable, but you must be able to please the core sci-fi fanbase with your choices, because there’s nothing worse than a gang of pissed off fanboys threatening to shoot you with their quasar guns. You see, sci-fi fans are intensely loyal, and it’s important to them that the talent in any sci-fi/space/monster/fantasy/advenutre film has an appreciation for their beloved genre. It looks like the creators of Star Trek have clearly taken this into account, and a cast has been assembled that any true sci-fi fan is sure to approve of. Take a look at eight people involved in Star Trek that have paid their dues in the science fiction world and surely have the fanboys on their side:

8. Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk)
He’s not quite a sci-fi fixture…. YET, but with the release of Star Trek on Friday, the upcoming Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey, and rumors of him taking the title role in the super-buzzy superhero film, The Green Lantern, Pine may just be a sci-fi phenomenon waiting to happen.

7. Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov)
Though he’s far from a houseold name, Yelchin’s fanbase is sure to grow exponentially in the next two weeks as he’s a main character in both Star Trek and Terminator Salvation. Like Chris Pine, Anton Yelchin has potential to be a majr attraction in the sci-fi world. The only reason he’s up a bit higher on the list is because he had a brief stint in Stephen Spielberg’s Taken miniseries.

6. Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura)
The lone girl on the list, Zoe Saldana has a cult following that’s as fervent as they come. I’m not really sure when she won over so many fans. Maybe it was her appearance in the first Pirates of the Caribbean, maybe it was her role on J.J. Abrams short-lived series, Six Degrees, or maybe I’m just being too much of an idealist, and it’s because she’s flipping beautiful. Either way, she has somehow won the allegiance of fanboys everywhere, and people are genuinely excited to see her in Star Trek and James Cameron’s sure-to-be-epic Avatar later this year.

5. Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy)
Here is a true-blue, hardworking science fiction actor. (And that’s not a cut- the guy is a legitmate actor- he just does a lot of sci-fi) Karl Urban has had roles in pretty much everything. After stints on television as Julius Caesar in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, he’s appeared in films such as Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Riddick, Doom, and Pathfinder.

4. Alex Kurtzman (Writer)
Here’s a behind-the-scenes guy that has contributed so much to the sci-fi genre. Kurtzman not only wrote a good number of the episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Kevin Sorbo, come back to us!), but he’s a close friend of J.J. Abrams, and he served as executive producer Alias. On top of that, he’s one of the creators of current sci-fi mystery hit, Fringe. He proved his writing schops with the surprisingly effective Mission: Impossible 3, so Trekkies have got to be feeling good about his Star Trek script.

3. Zachary Quinto (Spock)
I gave up on the trainwreck of a TV show that is Heroes a while ago, but Zachary Quinto’s performance as uber-villain Sylar is one of the few bright spots in the otherwise messy program. Fans absolutely love him, and everyone seems to be excited to see him as Spock.

2. J.J. Abrams (Director)

Where do I even begin? He created and directed the popular television sci-fi programs: Alias, Lost, and Fringe! As if that wasn’t enough (it was), he seamlessly transitioned into the film world with his directorial debut as Mission: Impossible 3, which was easily the best in the franchise. With commercial viability and super-geek credibility, Abrams was the perfect choice to helm Star Trek.

1. Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime)
The freakin’ original Spock! Need I say more?

So do you agree with my list? For my sake, I hope I haven’t offended any of you fanboys, but whatever you’re feeling, let me know in the comments!

This Week in Blockbusters: Star Trek

May 4, 2009

I always love Summer. Less work, less stress, less responsibility, more movies. It’s the only time of the year I can keep up with new movies and catch up on the ones I missed. Studios love it too, releasing big movie after big movie that bring audiences to the theaters in droves. Many of the movies are mindless entertainment (not a bad thing, they’re often a lot of fun), but every few weeks one of the big ones will deliver intelligence as well as entertainment, and it’s always fun to be surprised.

Though this summer is laden with the sequels, remakes, and re-adaptions, that permeate movies today, there is a surprising amount of original material to look forward to as well. So each week I will write up the big release coming that week and give a little synopsis and my expectations of what it could be. There will be some sequels (Harry Potter, Angels and Demons), some sequels with robots (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Terminator Salvation), as well as some brand new originals (Funny People, Up). Most of these, I imagine, will make a lot of money in the recession-proof industry. Some will be good, some will disappoint, but I’ll be happy, because hey, it’s summer.

This week, Star Trek hits theaters nationwide, and geeks everywhere are camping out with Vulcan Ears and Romulan face paint. Now I am a geek, but I am not a Trekkie. I know very little about the Star Trek series, except that William Shatner played Captain Kirk and the ship is called the Enterprise. Having said that, I love good science fiction. I grew up on Star Wars, but for some reason missed the Star Trek bus. I think, perhaps, I was a generation late (even for The Next Generation).

This movie, however, looks like a great way to get into it. It’s a reboot that is faithful to the original. It was created for die-hard fans and casual viewers alike, which I think is important for movies such as this. This allows for it to please everybody, rather than being too unfaithful for the fans or too knee-deep in Klingon terminology for those just finding their inner Trek fan. It looks like an awesome, epic sci-fi tale with action, special effects, and solid characters to boot. Early reviews are great (currently 17 for 17 on Rotten Tomatoes), and I can’t imagine every person who has seen it is a devout follower.

It seems like a truly solid origin story. I trust J.J. Abrams to deliver, seeing as how he produces one of the most interesting and engaging shows on television, which I purposely don’t watch to avoid addiction. Apparently, they’re doing something interesting here: they’re tying it into the ‘old’ universe. I don’t understand it fully, but I know there is time travel involved. Apparently, a villain from current Star Trek continuity (Eric Bana) travels in time to kill a young pre-captain James Kirk (Chris Pine). Much like Back to the Future, this alters time irrevocably and sets the characters on a different course than the one we (by we I mean those that have actually followed the thirty plus years of continuity) have already seen. It’s actually a neat way to handle the reboot, which is always a delicate situation. How do you restart something so beloved without nullifying what has already happened? Do you just make it so it never existed? This strikes a nice balance: both stories are true in different timelines, one feeds right off the other. Fans understand its significance, and newcomers can start from a seemed beginning.

In another awesome way to tie this film into the old series, Trekkie fans are bound to be excited that Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as Spock. In this movie, he’s ‘Old Spock’ come from the future to help ‘New Spock,’ played by Heroes villain Zachary Quinto. Apparently, Spock and Kirk (known to be best friends) don’t get along so well when they first meet. Something tells me this will change as they go through the hardships of space battles together. (it’ll be like a buddy cop movie, with lasers). Even a non-trekkie like myself has heard William Shatner’s broken-hearted “Kaaaaaaahhnnn!” scream as he held his dying friend.

This could be a strong way to start off the Summer blockbuster season, following Wolverine’s wake. Star Trek is getting away with saying it will be released this Friday, May 8th, but it actually comes out Thursday at 7:00 P.M. in many theaters nationwide. Apparently, they thought the Trekkie crowd was too old for a midnight showing. How this counts as a Friday release is beyond me, apparently they can claim it’s Friday in Britain.

Excitement buzz: 8/10.