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Film & TV on DVD - John Doe Film News & Reviews

 
Greetings Film Fiends and welcome to John Doe's Film Blog. 30 years of dedicated celluloid obsession has meant that I have seen a few films. Drawing attention to some of the lesser discussed gems that I love. Cult classics, obscure curios and quality genre pictures. This blogs purpose is to translate some of my passion for these films and with luck, inspire you the reader to go check em out.

Star Trek XI (2009) - Included The Enterprise versus Death Star Footage

The Adventures of a Galaxy Class Sequel Rebooted

star trek XI, enterprise 2009, star trek reboot, jj abrams star star trek, action adventure films, science fiction, gene rodenberry, captain kirk, spock
The New Bird Soars

Director: JJ Abrams
Writer: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Leonard Nimoy, Winona Ryder, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Ben Cross


“I like this ship! It's exciting!” - Scotty

Before we begin a little perspective is required. John Doe needs to declare from the off set that he is a Trekkie, Trekker…a fan of Star Trek.

One need look no further than the fact he was married on the bridge of the U.S.S Enterprise in Vegas for evidence. (That he attended the Vermont premiere in his Starfleet uniform while others pointed and giggled speaks for itself) So this review can only be a little obsessive and written from a purist’s perspective. (Eg; He watches Star Wars for action adventure, what makes Trek unique is its moral and psychological quandaries.)


It was with trepidation and more than a little anxiety that JD approached JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise. You see he is not a fan of Abrams style nor products (With the exception of Cloverfield). Well set his phasers to stunned, it’s with relief that Johnny must declare a level of satisfaction at what he saw, despite these previously held views.

Star Trek XI is an action adventure extravaganza that is rescued by an acute knowledge of Trek lore, making the whole experience one giant in-joke. The more you know about the Trek universe the funnier it is. (Think of the Battlestar Galactica rework but with an abundance of nods and winks to its predecessors).

In the spirit of remaining spoiler free (No small feat) this synopsis will be brief.

Star Trek XI is an origins story, a prequel that thanks to a time shift paradox allows for a reinvention of the existing storyline continuity we all know. Launching with James T Kirk as a juvenile delinquent in small town Iowa through to Starfleet academy where he meets his future crew members Spock, Uhura, Checkov and Bones. Circumstances and fate conspire swiftly and soon we are in outer space boldly going where no man has gone before, kind of.

star trek XI, star trek reboot, jj abrams star star trek, action adventure films, science fiction, gene rodenberry, captain kirk, spock
The new-old crew with eyebrows and jaw bones intact



John Doe says:
Ideally cast, with a dizzying self awareness of the established character dynamics and storylines this chapter toys with our existing geek boy analysis of the pop culture mythology behind the series. This is undoubtedly the best in the series since First Contact, which also manipulated the established timelines.

The dialogue and situations are hilarious, overflowing with hubris and sly nudges. The warp factor 8 pacing and “get out of jail free” structure leave little time for wider thoughts about the very pedestrian plotting.

You find yourself laughing out loud with more frequency than many other films purported to be in the comedy genre. Nare a minute goes by where there isn’t clever humor that substitutes for the much needed smarts. It is this intelligent manipulation of “what we know” that allowed Johnny to contradict his previously held view of what attracts him, to Trek. It’s forgivable to adopt the less thought provoking stance in the film because after all Kirk was always a womanizing man of action with a never say die attitude. Not as focused or intelligent as later master and commanders of the revered galaxy class starship.

This direction also facilitates that non devotees can enjoy the film on an alternate level, while still recognizing obvious gags and certainly getting wrapped up in the well executed combat scenes.

Deft cinematography and editing “mind meld” for quick recognition and provide a much needed sense of geography when in the vastness of space. Tracking shots executed with flair are given urgency and carefully paced cuts elevate emotion with equal aplomb.

Big on special FX in its opening minutes, thankfully as the running time progresses the CG is toned down to a point where it often appears to be retrograde in its visual style. Some shots of the Enterprise are only slightly more polished than those of its 1960’s inspiration. It’s a delicate balancing act between new millennium filmmaking technologies and nostalgia that works.

The crew are eerily on the nose and the producers even managed to find an actor more wooden than William Shatner in Chris Pine (Smokin’ Aces) for the almighty Captain. His bee stung lips and artificial, forced delivery reminiscent of Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers. Reckless, horny and arrogant this is the young Kirk as was always inferred in the TV Show and films.

star trek XI, star trek reboot, jj abrams star star trek, action adventure films, science fiction, gene rodenberry, captain kirk, spock
A spicy little green number gets Kirked


As many have already stated, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as a young Spock is almost too good. There are times where it is practically uncomfortable to watch him deliver memorable catch phrases like “fascinating”. Seeing him struggle with his duality as a half Human/Vulcan trapped in two cultures is again as we imagined. The rigid suppressing of human emotion, defaulting to logic during his early development works in juxtaposition to Kirk’s reckless behavior. This forms the crux of a rivalry between the two that is rich in understanding.

Equally realized is Karl Urban (Lord of The Rings) as Bones and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty, both nailing the attitude of their original counterparts.

Zoe Saldana (Avatar) is eye candy as Uhura. Stealing all his scenes Anton Yelchin (Huff) makes the dialectically challenged Chekov into a giggle factory, without having to utter “Nuclear Wessels” , (to easy) though hearing “Wulcan” never loses its charm.

John Cho (Harold and Kumar) in the part of Sulu works keeping his fencing abilities intact but sadly the writers give him martial arts prowess playing into the racial stereotype that Gene Rodenberry always fought so vigorously against. (“Did I ever indicate I knew Kung Fu” - Futurama)

Eric Bana (Chopper) as the villain Nero does his best King Conan impersonation whenever seated on his throne.

Bruce Greenwood (Below) as Captain Pike and Winona Ryder (Heathers) as Spock mummy Amanda Grayson are welcome variations on the existing narrative.

Lastly there is the meeting of old and new in Leonard Nimoy as Spock. On a sentimental level welcome, but depressing to see him aged much like Harrison Ford in the latest Indy, sleepwalking through the role.

It is hard to fault without nit picking. The film is exciting, wise and enjoyably tackled with loving respect. The only real criticism comes from where the saga goes from here, because approaching the origin story in this way is a one trick pony. Will the next installment return to the socially minded intentions of creator Gene Rodenberry or become just another mindless science fiction ala Stargate?Afterall the U.S.S Enterprise is a scientific vessel built for exploration, not a military weapon.


Trailer for JJ Abrams Star Trek XI


The much discussed Enterprise versus Death Star video
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Comments
30 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]
1. May 12th 2009 @ 02:29. JohnDoe Says:
Ummmmm, i have just noticed that this post has been deemed as " mature content"...I realise that i am one of those lucky people not offended easily so would love some alternate perspectives because i thought i was a good judge of when my work crossed the borders to adults only.

What confuses me is that there is no foul language, sexual references or violence in the text. The latest Star Trek is a PG 13 film so all the images are also acceptable....
This is after all a review of a family film and so was aimed at that group...when i review adult films i sometimes tend to write in a more mature style with content appropriate for those who may be in the target audience and have no problem with a "mature content" banner...but this has me very very confused???

the only thing i can come up with is that a picture of Kirk and a green alien in their underwear is in some way risque, but then I see the same thing in the latest junk mail from most department stores (granted the women are not meant to be an alien race nor have green flesh)...

Please Help!
2. May 12th 2009 @ 03:07. Anonymous Says:
Can't find anything, JD. Nothing even remotely family-unfriendly.

Then again, for some reason my password is invalid all of a sudden. it's enough to make one paranoid.

Been waiting for your review on this, which I'd already determined would be the deciding factor in whether or not I'd see it. To be honest, the trailers I've seen didn't look too promising..but I trust your opinion implicitly. I know the degree of trekkieness you possess!!

Pleasant surprise, then. Good! (Damn but Spock was uncannily on, wasn't he??)

D. Armenta
3. May 12th 2009 @ 03:14. me again Says:
Okay, just saw the post. I guess that's being done to keep David off (?)

D. Armenta
4. May 12th 2009 @ 03:19. JohnDoe Says:
Hi D,

Thanks for the input though I do feel your threshold for adult material is probably similar to mine .....bizarre the Bret Eaton Ellis post I did a few weeks back wasn't red flagged, considering I was trying to emulate his darkly comic writing style employing some explicit language.

The new Trek trailer scared me immensely, made it look very generic and unimaginative. Thankfully it is a loving homage that still caters to the new millennium audience.

I look forward to reading your verdict.

As for your password dilemma there is a post by Jon today that should remedy it.
5. May 12th 2009 @ 04:02. jon Says:
I did not flag it as mature -- honest!
6. May 12th 2009 @ 08:39. Damo Says:
Family Friendly as always JD.

Love the review.

To be honest I only really enjoyed 2 on the Movies so far. Wrath of Khan or the one with the Borg. The rest dated far too easily.

I may get to see this next week. I hope it is as good as you say.
7. May 12th 2009 @ 22:45. D. Armenta Says:
Jon--then who did flag it? Can anyone flag stuff now?

On a related note, Jon--aren't you getting a little tired of playing blog police/head of complaint dept.?

Should I address that on the writers' forum? (Sorry JD!)

JD--still at the Cave?
8. May 12th 2009 @ 23:17. Cibbuano Says:
awesome stuff JD - glad to hear that you liked it.

I thought Chris Pine had the presence to keep the film going, especially as he gets increasingly hot-tempered. The story falls apart under examination but the film is all adrenaline, without relying on nauseating CGI effects to make up for it.

9. May 13th 2009 @ 00:11. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Jon,

Thanks for the comment.

I am the first to admit that many of my posts are worthy of receiving the "mature content" banner, this one however confused me?

Out of curiosity who else has the power of censorship?
10. May 13th 2009 @ 00:17. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Damo,

I wouldn't say i am always family friendly but this one was truly aimed like the film at a PG audience.

Wrath of Khan and First Contact (the one with the borg) are my two faves as well)...this latest one sits somewhere in between but is arguably the most entertaining and universally appealing of all the films.

Please promise you will come back and write what you thought of it...hope I haven't got you too hyped it is after all at is core a sci-fi actioner with zero mindful or speculative elements.
11. May 13th 2009 @ 00:21. JohnDoe Says:
Hi D,

I do plan to resume work on cavecc.com but at the moment any spare time is going towards getting JDM back to a position of power
12. May 13th 2009 @ 00:28. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Cib,

i didn't think Pine dominated, his presence was exactly that of casper van dien in Starship troopers for me. He was appropriate for the role of Kirk, but i think teh writing of teh character was where hsi strength lay. i did dig Chris Pine in Smokin Aces though.

The plot worked for me because it incorporated so much Trek lore within..the restrained CG saved it for me too, though that opening scared me with its overuse of the computer power, thank god it was an exception not a tone setter.
13. May 13th 2009 @ 00:56. jon Says:
No-one else can make a post mature. I'm guessing that you (or I) did it by accident unless there is a bug in the system. A post has to be quite "mature" before it gets flagged.
14. May 13th 2009 @ 01:23. Bryn Says:
JD, how'd you find out it had been deemed mature?
15. May 13th 2009 @ 03:18. JohnDoe Says:
Thanks Jon, maybe I did it accidentally then......hope there isn't a bug.
16. May 13th 2009 @ 03:22. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Bryn,

Was wondering if you were still reading my stuff. Are you going to see the new Trek?

I knew it was "mature Content" because when i opened my homepage it told me so and wouldn't show any text. plus it didn't appear on the orble homepage at all....its good now though.
17. May 13th 2009 @ 04:20. Cibbuano Says:
JD, I thought the opening scene gives just the right 'oomph' to entice a new audience... I was real skeptical going in, but after that first battle, it felt like it was going to be quite a ride...
18. May 13th 2009 @ 06:10. Jason King Says:
Nice one JD - am glad u enjoyed it. As most know I worshipped this film and am off for my third viewing this weekend at Imax. Saw the premiere in dual DIG projectors, seen it in 35mm and now for the Imax experience. Yay!!
A bit of trivia - nothing worked for Quinto in trying for the Vulcan finger V. He could not do it. In the last scene you see it kind of side on - to hide the superglue sticking his fingers together Fact
To read my interviews with most of the leads from the film visit www.saltypopcorn.com
I hope the minor advert is ok JD.
19. May 13th 2009 @ 07:19. Bryn Says:
JD, of course I'm still reading. But don't want to know too much about Star Trek. Wanna see it as cold as possible.
20. May 14th 2009 @ 13:18. Morgan Bell Says:
i really want to see this, but i dont know anyone else who likes Star Trek, i think some people are avoiding it because they think its going to be too nerdy
21. May 14th 2009 @ 13:40. Irene Says:
I am a Trekkie, and I was pleasantly surprised that this movie didn't suck! It's almost up there with the best Trek movies IMHO, e.g., Wrath of Khan, First Contact, Undiscovered Country...

I for one did not have a problem with Sulu fighting. It's not like he was going around karate chopping people and screaming "hiiiiya!" Asian males are so pathetic in the Trek universe (Science nerd, girlfriendless Harry Kim? Annoying and socially inept Julian Bashir?) I'm so glad that this Sulu got to kick ass and save Kirk.

Of all the performances, I think Quinto and Urban my faves.
22. May 16th 2009 @ 14:40. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Morgan,

The nerd factor has been removed for sure, but then thats what actually attracts me to Trek, the intellect...this one is a fun action sci fi with little of the substance that generally frightens the masses.

Thanks for dropping by always welcome.
23. May 16th 2009 @ 14:50. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Irene,

I know what you mean about the fear of suckage, but it was a fun ride in the end...

I loved that they refered to Sulu fencing and had no problem with him being action man.,.,.but when he was doing his kung fu acrobatics and flips it seemed like slipping into every cliche that had so far been avoided...both Harry Kim and Bashir have their episodes of action too, but never to this extreme. (Is Bashir Asian?) I really like both characters for their gentler natures that are consistent with their station on the ship.

Quinto is disturbingly accurate in his vulcan mindset. Urban was fun too, Yelchin stole his scenes for me.

Thanks for the visit Irene, glad another Trekster dropped in.
24. May 16th 2009 @ 22:45. Lilla Says:
Hi JD,

Firstly let me say how wonderful it is to see you writing again, and secondly how much i looked forward to your review on this one the very most, because of the obvious then as blunderously as possible (and because I couldn*t log in for over a week), went and missed it altogether . . but no harm done as your insightful wit and wisdom once again oozes off the screen to enthrall me with something probably as close to my own heart as your own on this score. *geek boy analysis* re evaluation rather redundant as this geek girl also walked up the carpet to her seat with the same intrepidation after having had her wheeties with Kirk, Spock (Picard, Janeway and the Sisko) on the bridge, since she was about 6 years old.

I hated Cloverfield and so you can imagine what I was thinking on my way in, my two daughters almost dragging me, only to be so pleasantly relieved and strangely it was second generation teenage daughter who was raised on Voyager and Next Generation first (but no less enamoured by Kirk et al) who REALLY couldn*t take it on and thought it *failed* ??? No biggie, she just hates change, period, it*ll grow on her. She balked most at the technology of the old Enterprise, saying it was too advanced ~ yet i felt it was pretty spot on. I did mention alternate realities a few times, but it didn*t resonate with her at all.

Star Trek XI is an action adventure extravaganza that is rescued by an acute knowledge of Trek lore, making the whole experience one giant in-joke. The more you know about the Trek universe the funnier it is.

Agreed. I couldn*t have put it all better myself and my only complaints would be that (as you have probably already read on Cibb, Jason and Matts posts), was that Kirk had green eyes and should have worn contacts (Yeah I know alternate reality and all that), but : (and it is a BIGGIE in my eyes) . . there was no mandatory ripped shirt scene or monster with tea strainer eyes, although i thought Mr Bana did a fairly good impersonation on that score ~ certainly not too human. As for Kirk : getting his kit off altogether for the spicy green babe (classic) didn*t cut the mustard for me. As I said : for me there will have to be a good shirt ripping scene in the prequal sequal or the whole project will just about have failed!
*chuckle*

Big on special FX in its opening minutes, thankfully as the running time progresses the CG is toned down to a point where it often appears to be retrograde in its visual style. Some shots of the Enterprise are only slightly more polished than those of its 1960’s inspiration. It’s a delicate balancing act between new millennium filmmaking technologies and nostalgia that works.

YES! JJ nailed this one as precisely as Chekov would have parked the Enterprise in dry dock at half impulse with a blindfold over both eyes.

As many have already stated, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as a young Spock is almost too good. There are times where it is practically uncomfortable to watch him deliver memorable catch phrases like “fascinating”.

Yes the impersonation of the young Spock was downright Spooky, in its ability to make me believe it was really him some years earlier!

The old Spock cameo made me cry, I just couldn*t shake the feeling that it was the very last time we would see him split those fingers of his, despite his resigned contracts for various other projects. . .

Death Star Destroys Enterprise? I think not ~ although it will be interesting in about 300 years for new gnerations to discover these things and by then (for the most part) have forgotten which order they were both filmed in. . they*ll think the old fashions are the latest and visa versa, bizarre! There will probably be a whole genre of conspiracy theories around the whole reason for it being made so, too? *giggle* But no less true perhaps that as a stnad alone Hollywood Action Blockbuster this latest effort may well lead a whole new generation to the old series with aplomb!

Agreed. 5 Stars and as superb as your own review, as always.

Lilla.

PS Currently up to Season 6 of making our way through the wormhole of DS9 and the Dominion War : and still nodding and agreeing with you that it is by far the superior of all the franchise put together! Wowie, what a ride!
25. May 16th 2009 @ 23:06. Lilla Says:
(Eg; He watches Star Wars for action adventure, what makes Trek unique is its moral and psychological quandaries.)

THAT is perhaps the truism of the week and a shame more people don*t get it. Although as I said not essentially of these qualities, this latest film may just lead a new generation to appreciate these finer qualities ~ over time.

Time will tell I guess.
26. May 18th 2009 @ 04:37. Matt Shea Says:
Great review JD!

Personally, I think they've set up the new series pretty well. A friend of mine likened it to X-Men/X-Men 2, in that with the time traveling stuff they've laid the groundwork to really unleash in the second installment. After all, this was lacking in one of the greatest dangers of the Kirk-era Starfleet universe - the Klingons! But I do know what you mean about not wanting it to turn into brainless actioneering, so to speak.
27. May 19th 2009 @ 14:36. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Lilla,

I can totally empathise with your daughters view but like you i was able to embrace the alternate perspective.

As for Kirks eye colour, you make me laugh because my wife has been on a similar tirade of her own since they changed the colour of Vulcan in the new movie. (She is much more hardcore than me in Trek land)

It was moving to see Mr Nimoy back in the pointy eared role, now if only they will let him into Mission Impossible?

Good to see your still reading, and overwhelmed with your kind words of praise.


28. May 19th 2009 @ 14:57. JohnDoe Says:
Hi Matt,

The new series will survive if it incorporates the core beliefs Rodenberry built his universe upon.

Granted like a good pilot episode on TV they have left the options way open for sequels.

I missed the Klingons too, but I'm sure they will come into the next chapter. They have to don't they? Probably embracing more of the ancient warriors code.

29. September 26th 2010 @ 12:21. ShaunK Says:
really enjoyed this alot buddy - funny thing is I dont rememberEric Bana at all in this. Simon Pegg made me giggle and there was lots to like about this - you've delivered a finely descriptive view of the film as usual, in your own inimitable style!
30. September 27th 2010 @ 19:29. JohnDoe Says:
Thanks Shaun,

I really didn't think I was going to like this, but it is a ripping adventure...Bana was the main villain in heavy make-up.

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