Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trek versus Terminator

Taken from Facebook entry on Sunday, May 24, 2009

At 7:00 on my 48th birthday, William took me to see Star Trek in an Imax theater. Seated with us were about 298 of our closest friends. As we munched on hot, buttery popcorn and slurped softdrinks through straws, we cheered, we laughed, we cried, we boo'd...we did, one and all, thoroughly enjoy the film. Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Bones, and Scotty were embodied by different actors from those with which we were familiar, and yet there was a certain familiarity still...they did not parody, but actually became those whom they were representing on the screen, carrying us away into an alternate universe of thrills and knuckle-biting, with just a few bits of humor thrown in for good measure.

Some fans and critics have said this new Star Trek contains none of the social statements found in earlier installments of the mega-franchise, but I noted a new statement never formerly broached by the writers: That of the differences it makes to grow up in a single-parent home. In the original story, James Tiberius Kirk grew up in a home with two parents. His father stood proudly by as he watched his son's commissioning as captain of the famed USS Enterprise NCC-1701, a Constitution Class starship. In the new film, Jim Kirk grows up as the child of a single mother, perhaps acquiring a step-father at some point. He gets into trouble with the law at a young age, and by the time he should have been entering Star Fleet Academy, he was picking fights with Cadets at a local bar in Riverside, Iowa, just for kicks. At the urging of a Star Fleet officer who wrote about the ill-fated "father" Kirk, this young Kirk joins Star Fleet. Ultimately, he receives a field promotion to Captain while the ship is being held by a Romulan mining vessel from the future. The social comment: How life is different for those who grow up in single-parent homes.

I do believe the film delivers: I give it a whopping 5 stars (on a 5-star scale), finding it to be just about perfect. Not only did Director JJ Abrams deliver to a hungry fan base a film that could be relished over and over, but he provided the meat and potatoes that would fulfill the newcomer to the Universe of Star Trek.

Two days ago, William and I attended the first Friday showing of another long-anticipated science fiction offering: Terminator Salvation. With regard to this film, dear reading, I have one piece of advice--wait for the DVD. The acting was flat, the story was shallow, and the special effects were bland. Come on!!! We waited 6 years for this! Couldn't you have given us something with at least a story that fit and was befitting a sequel to the original film? This was a chance to show us that John Conner of which Kyle Reese spoke; that man who inspired the last remnant of humanity to rise up and fight, turning the tide of the war in favor of mankind. Instead, we got a grizzly-voiced Kyle Reese played by Christian Bale, and a Kyle Reese who was actually more inspiring, played by wide-eyed Anton Yelchin (whom I found to be about the only redeeming quality in the film).

I wanted to like the Terminator film...I really did. Instead, I sat in a full theater which suffered from a heaviness...nobody cheered, laughed, cried, or even boo'd. The movie fell flat. At the end, people practically bolted from their seats to get out of the theater before the credits rolled. Spare yourself...don't waste your money on this mess.

One star.

OK, so that painful bit of prose behind me, I must point out one interesting thing the two films have in common: Russian-born American actor, Anton Viktorovich Yelchin. This is the same fella who plays the 17-year-old Pavel Andreievich Chekov in the Star Trek film! Yep, the kid from Hearts in Atlantis has two films in the box office at the same time! Way to go, man. I hope we see more great things from you in the future.

So, there you have it. Star Trek is a must-see (preferably on a big screen, about 5 rows back, in the center), and Terminator is one for the dusty DVD shelf. Do you disagree? Hey, that's your right.

- Palemoon Twilight

Special Note: At the time of this publication, the author has seen Star Trek four times, and still can't find anything of which to complain...except maybe, actually quite disheartenedly, Spock's ears. You see, the elder Spock very obviously has detached earlobes, while the younger Spock has attached ear lobes. Hrmmm...Nature versus nurture?

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