I am insanely jealous today.
A red carpet world premier of the new Star Trek movie in Sydney, Australia (you can find pictures of that event here). Now sure, I don't expect I could've made that - but an audience that showed up for a special screening of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas ended up seeing something entirely different...
A premiere of J.J. Abrams', Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci's re-imagining of Star Trek.
The ENTIRE film.
People were expecting a special screening of Wrath of Khan, with an additional 10 minutes of footage from the new film. There was an introduction by writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, along with producer Damon Lindelof and then the second Star Trek film in the series began. However a few minutes in, something apparently went wrong, the film broke and melted and the audience was left sitting there.
Within moments someone came out in a trenchcoat and a hat - the hat was removed and who should it be but Leonard Nimoy! He was greeted with a standing ovation, and it only became crazier when he announced the audience would be watching the new film in its entirety. (A pause while your author shakes his fist at an uncaring universe...)
Now for some bizarre reason, the folks down under are under an embargo and cannot discuss the film, but the Austin attendees are under no such gag order. The word has been spreading on what they saw, and while there are some weaknesses pointed out in the film, overall it's been overwhelmingly positive:
First, from my pal Neil at FilmSchoolRejects.com (who is not a hard core Trek fan) - one concern fans have had (myself included) about the film is the writing of Orci & Kurtzman. They've been hit or miss, and I really disliked Transformers, so this was a concern for me:
"What I’d like to make clear is that the two writers on this project — whose work I have loved at times and hated at others — is some of the smartest work they’ve done."
Related to the point above, I was VERY concerned with the humor that would be injected into this film. Star Trek had its share of humor, usually focused on the interplay between Kirk, Spock & McCoy - but I was terrified this film would have the type of (stupid) humor that was in Transformers:
"...trust me when I say that there are plenty of comedic moments, the majority of which seem to work. It was a risky play on the part of Kurtzman and Orci, as we’ve seen it go wrong before (i.e. Optimus Prime’s rose garden mishap of 2007), but in this film they walk that fine line between funny and dopey. What works best is when the humor is less gaggy, and more derivative of the banter between characters. There are moments of dialogue between Kirk and Bones, Kirk and Spock and Scotty and just about anyone that will have you chuckling out loud, trust me."
So what might classic Trek (TOS) fans complain about?
"If there is one thing 'Star Trek' always got right in the old days — and we’re talking 'The Original Series' and the first two films, of which I’m a big fan — it was a commitment to character and story above all else. This movie has that same commitment, but it is muted by an intense sensory experience. This may be a small problem for some fans, but I can assure you that when you get that first gorgeous shot of the USS Enterprise or you are thrust into the midst of a wild space battle, you won’t mind one bit."
"Sure, it plays to the fan base a little bit, but its real strength is in the fact that it is delivered with a ton of energy, it presents a story that is easily grasped by fans and newbies alike and is a big, kick-ass ride."
But in his final analysis:
"The overwhelming sentiment that I have about this film is that J.J. Abrams, with the help of a few incredibly talented people, has created a very accessible, fun Star Trek film that is perfect for a new generation of sci-fi fans."
"J.J. Abrams has really pushed the envelope with the visual effects and delivered a Star Trek tale that is fresh and vibrant, but he also remembered that it’s important to maintain a commitment to character and story, something that too many filmmakers forget these days."
For more of Neil's spoiler-free thoughts on the film, including what he thought of the other characters and whether Nero was up to par as a villain, head on over to Film School Rejects.
Quint from AICN thoroughly enjoyed the film as well, and here are his thoughts on Chris Pine as Kirk:
"What Pine brings to Kirk, what he's able to recreate from William Shatner's iconic performance, is that playful glint in the eye. He can be deadly serious, but there's always a smile underneath."
"Pine has the swagger, the humor, but he also has the presence. I didn't think I was going to be a convert to him in the role, but I thought he was great."
Head over to AICN for the full rundown on the evening and more of Quint's spoiler-free thoughts.
Then we have Rodney Perkins of TwitchFilm:
"Abrams’ film is a very entertaining and reverential take on the Star Trek mythos. The acting and casting are spot on. The story mixes old and new elements of the Star Trek universe. The effects are breathtaking. Some people will inevitably nitpick this film but J.J. Abrams’ new work is as good as (and arguably better than) most of the Star Trek movies that preceded it."
Finally here's a little something from a Cinemablend reader:
"There's more humor, more thrills, far more energy and a much better movie here than anything I've seen from Star Trek since the 80's. I admit I was skeptical- I was not prepared to care about this universe and these characters again, after the crushing mediocrity that they had become. I can be skeptical no more, though. This is a fantastic movie its own right, one I would definitely recommend to Trekkie and new fan alike."
Ah, but is it all puppies and rainbows? Common issues I've seen mentioned include the fact that Nero is not a strong villain for Kirk to go up against, secondary characters don't get a lot of screen time (but then, when have they ever in Star Trek?), and that Anton Yelchin's Russian accent in his portrayal of Chekov does get a bit annoying.
On the other hand people are saying that Chris Pine is a great Kirk without mimicking him, and the same goes for Zachary Quinto's portrayal of Spock. It's been stated that Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy is a worthy successor to the role made iconic by DeForest Kelly, and that Simon Pegg is perfect as Scotty - and that these two gentlemen will probably be the audience's favorite characters.
Personally I can't wait for this damned movie - even before all this I ranked it my most anticipated movie of 2009, and this just has me chomping at the bit.
Star Trek opens on May 8th, and that can't come soon enough. In the meantime, you can head over to the official site, StarTrekMovie.com which has been updated with character bios, cool alternative paint schemes to the Enterprise done by major artists, and panoramic views of the bridge and other parts of the ship.
[BONUS UPDATE: Here are the videos of the intro to the event at the Alamo Drafthouse, before and after the "mishap." Enjoy!]
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