Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Star Trek - A Two-Hour Action Sequence

A two-hour action sequence in space? Naturally, we at All Action No Plot Towers were all over that, and Star Trek accordingly gets a thigh-slapping endorsement.

Not having ever paid much attention to the series, I was not too sure what to expect, and if anything was a little dubious at the prospect of being treated to two hours of bespectacled nerds nasally whining away about the frequency at which light bends. Merrily, ‘tis the nerds who shall weep in despair, because this film kept the plot minimal and the action ubiquitous.

As the first film in a franchise already boasting a good half-dozen well-established characters – Sulu, Scotty and the like - the film was obliged to give each of them their five minutes of fame, rather than just shove firmly in the background while Kirk and Spock dashed around looking serious. This task was admirably met, particularly as it was achieved without becoming bogged down in characters. Entertainingly, rather than have a character amble into shot and be hailed, by name, in the commonly-adopted introductory format of civilisation in general, this being the action-packed world of Star Trek, characters were instead introduced by being flung across the screen in the middle of a carnage-heavy fight to the death complete with background explosions, tumbling buildings and flaming spaceships. The use of action as a narrative tool - genius.

Let the records also show that there were also several well-timed and dry moments of wit, as well as a few gratuitous undressing-lady shots, but nevertheless I suspect that this is probably a film that would be well-received by the ladies. Not least because most of the crew of the Enterprise looked as if they were about to burst into song as the support act to Take That. The Starfleet may run fairly stringent aptitude tests, but the clean-cut look of an underwear model also seemed to be a prerequisite. Even for the one with pointy ears.

Pedantically speaking, it should be pointed out that this was by no means a flawless cinematic event. For a start, if Hollywood physics has taught me anything, it’s that meeting yourself from a different space-time continuum ought really to cause the whole space-time fabric to explode, or implode, or just generally do something really big, noisy and dangerous.

Additionally, in retrospect it dawned on me that the entire plot hinged on a moment of quite ludicrous coincidence, as Kirk, stranded on a planet of ice, finds that the only other soul on said planet had not only ambled into the same cave as him, thereby saving his bacon at the opportune moment, but also happened to be the one man in the universe who could help him save his spaceship, crew and the entire earth.

A propos the ice planet, that seemed to be one of several moments unsubtly yanked straight out of Star Wars, without so much as a dusting down. There was also the most perplexing, sudden and unexplained romance in cinematic history, but mercifully this was neither here nor there. As I said at the top, this was a two-hour action sequence, set in space, and frankly it almost seems morally wrong to quibble about that.

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