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Critics Like ‘Star Trek,’ But Is It Enough?

One even says that Spock reminds him a lot of Barack Obama

One even says that Spock reminds him a lot of Barack ObamaUnlike “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” last week, critics generally have given thumbs up to the 11th film in the Star Trek franchise, and hopefully that will lead fans and non-fans alike headed to the theater to see the latest work from J.J. Abrams.

“You’ll notice I haven’t explained the plot, and I don’t propose to try,” said CNN’s Tom Charity (link). “Whether it will stand the test of time — or even a second viewing — I don’t know. But I do know I watched this movie with a big smile on my face. It’s a film with a near-permanent twinkle in its eye.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian compared the film to another popular science-fiction franchise.

“Unlike George Lucas’s massively encumbered and obese Star Wars prequel trilogy, this new ‘Star Trek’ is fast-moving, funny, exciting warp-speed entertainment and, heaven help me, even quote moving — the kind of film that shows that, like it or not, commercial cinema can still deliver a sledgehammer punch,” Bradshaw said (link). However, the cast remains diverse for 40 years ago, but maybe not so diverse as more modern audiences are acquainted with.

“As in the ’60s, however, Starfleet unfortunately feels no great conciliatory need to include anyone from the Middle East,” Bradshaw said.

“Two Spocks in one movie! No other blockbuster this summer — and maybe even next year — can beat that,” said Noelani Torre of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (link). “While it can’t quite match the blend of swashbuckling action and deeply philosophical musings that characterized the original TV series, which debuted in 1966, this latest foray into Gene Roddenberry’s universe manages to pay its respects to the past, while taking the first step in what looks to be an exciting future.”

“Abrams and his writing team are also eloquent at finding ways to fuse science-fiction elements with trenchant drama, and they do it by pushing character to the forefront,” said Katherine Monk of CanWest News Service (a href=”” target=”_blank”>link). It’s “in keeping with [Gene] Roddenberry’s original template that used personal dynamics, not distinct political events, to shape each episode.”

“The script, by ‘Transformers’ scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is larded with constant time travel (I lost track of the dates), planet-sucking black holes (caused by a scarlet goo risibly called ‘red matter’), weird grudges that seem to last millennia and other astro inanity,” said Peter Howell of the Toronto Star (link). “But incredibly, that’s OK, because the energy and good vibes warp you past the cosmic debris. By boldly going back to where it all began, J.J. Abrams has taken Star Trek exactly where it belongs.”

The new Star Trek film could be the start of new technological and political trends, said Gary Thompson of the Philadelphia Daily News.

“Modern innovations inspired by the old ‘Star Trek’ show: the cell phone, the flat-screen TV and the Obama presidency,” Thompson said (link). “The latter occurred to me as I watched J.J. Abrams’ dandy new ‘Star Trek’ movie, which arrives amid polls showing that 80 percent of Americans continue to find President Obama personally likable. The findings jibe with the phenomenon that lead to his electoral landslide — the feeling among people, all sorts of people, all sorts of people, that somehow they knew the guy.

“I now believe that this is because Obama is Spock.”

But there is one guy who will never be on board science-fiction it seems. You know him … Roger Ebert.

“Time travel as we all know is impossible in the sense it happens here, but many things are possible in this film,” Ebert said. (link). Anyone with the slightest notion of what a black hole is, or how it behaves, will find the black holes in ‘Star Trek’ hilarious. The logic is also a little puzzling when Scotty can beam people into another ship in outer space, but they have to physically parachute to land on a platform in the air from which the Romulans are drilling a hole into the Earth’s core.”

Hold up just a second, Mr. Ebert. First of all, when we see the skydiving scene, Scotty and his transwarp beaming hadn’t even popped up yet. Secondly, the scene was not taking place over Earth, it was taking place over Vulcan.

“After they land there, they fight with two Romulan guards using … fists and swords?” Ebert said. “The platform is suspended from Arthur C. Clark’s ‘space elevator,’ but instead of fullerenes, the cable is made of metallic chunks the size of refrigerators.”

Ebert doesn’t get any nicer.

“The new movie essentially intends to reboot the franchise with younger characters and carry on as before,” he said. “The movie deals with narrative housekeeping. Perhaps the next one will engage these characters in a more challenging and devious story, one more about testing their personalities than re-establishing them. In the meantime, you want space opera, you got it.”

Maybe Abrams has a long career ahead of him in specialty films like “Star Trek”? CNN’s Charity thinks so.

“The new Enterprise is a joy to behold,” he said. “The movie positively gleams with big-budget production design and deep-space special effects. If the studios are smart, they’ll be lining up to get J.J. Abrams to rejuvenate every other washed-up franchise in town. May his work live long and prosper.”

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