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STAR TREK (2009)…As Seen By A Non-Fan.

startrekposter

In the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to share that I was afforded this opportunity to see Star Trek by the staff of b. I thank them for the pass, and I am both humbled and horrified to know that “marty f’n day” is known by name in their halls. Also, it was in IMAX. Suck it, nerds.

In all my years of nerddom, there were two levels I’d never broach. One out of personal indifference, one out of personal dislike. Indifference was the way for pen and paper role-playing games.  Never grabbed me, and at the age of Twenty-Four, I doubt they’d grab me now.  Dislike was the way of Star Trek.

In life, I feel all people can be evenly split amongst two groups.  Typically, this theorem is applied to Superman and Batman…you either love one, or another, and it says something about you.   I’ve felt this way about Star Wars and Star Trek.

Trek was seen in my eyes as the sterile exploration of space, pushed through the eyes of 60’s nostalgia.  Wars was the epic, the grandiose tale in the vein of pulp long lost.  Exploration versus adventure. Analysis versus opera.  This is what split the two.  And I’ve long put myself in the “Wars” side of things.

But ‘lo, Paramount had a vision.

Star Trek, long considered the thing of hardcore sci-fi fandom, had lost it’s grip on the mainstream realm.  Eleven films later, and only the most devout of fans were coming out.  The television shows, no longer grabbing the ratings they once were.

It was time to make Star Trek anew.  Batman Begins did it, so why not Trek?

The first key move in grabbing these new eyes was attracting the directing talents of JJ Abrams.  Cultivating an audience over his television shows Alias and Lost, films like Mission: Impossible III and Cloverfield…he WAS mainstream….but the geeks loved him just as much.

And so Paramount set out, with a cast of relative unknowns (and the knowns, best known for cult) and a director the world adored.

Did it work?

Absolutely.

From the first frame of the first true trailer I knew that this was the Star Trek film that would grab me headlong into the Trekkies warm embrace.  And by god, it delivered.

From the opening sequence, which shows an epic space battle on an incredible scale (and proves that Abrams learned a lesson or two from Joss Whedon), we’re thrust headlong into the growth of this new universe’s James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock from childhood to starfleet and their ascension to the roles we’ve become accustomed to seeing them as.

Note the term “new universe”? Yeah, that’s super key here, as not only do we newbies get a new Trek universe to call our own, but they conveniently tie it to the existing Trek cannon.  The explanation for this is incredibly complicated and verbose, but it sets the entire films plot into motion, and is rather fantastically verbalized by a rather reverent and wizened Leonard Nimoy.

What follows is possibly one of the better sci-fi movies of the summer, if not of the year, if not of quite a few years.

From top to bottom, Star Trek delivers.

It starts with an incredible lead in Chris Pine’s James Kirk.  One part Shatner, one part Daniel Craig’s reinterpretation of James Bond, he (pardon the pun) commands the screen with equal parts charisma and wit.  You understand how he could become a captain at such a young age, and Pine is an absolute blast to watch in character building scenes like the Kobayashi Maru.

Right behind him is Zachary Quinto as Spock.  I had a feeling this would be his breakout moment, and by god, he is wasting his time on Heroes.  Quinto personifies both sides of Spock, human and vulcan, to a T, and is a great compliment to Pine.  (A side note, Winona Ryder appears as Spock’s Mother, and sweet jesus do I feel old having an actress I had such a crush on appearing as someone’s MOTHER.)

The rest of the supporting cast lives up to their roles with equal joy and abandon.  Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Simon Pegg as Scotty, and Karl Urban as Bones reignite their iconic roles, showing deep character despite ultimately being used as comedic relief throughout the film, but I have no doubt they’ll be the highlight of future installments.  While fleetingly used, John Cho is a superb Sulu, shining in his action sequences, and Bruce Greenwood is a believable inspiration for Kirk, as Captain Christopher Pike.

Possibly the unsung hero of the film, I suppose appropriate given his villain status, is Eric Bana as the villainous Nero.  In his appearances on screen, Nero remains an imposing presence, showing equal parts intelligence and anger.  You truly believe that he could destroy a world at a moments notice…yet believe he was in the right to do so.

Unfortunately, there is a weak-link in the film, and it’s Zoe Saldana as Uhura.  While a perfectly fine actress, Saldana is reduced to window dressing, acting as a lover to Spock and lust object for Kirk, while having no real character development of her own. Hopefully Star Trek II will fix this.

What can I say?  For the 126 minute running time of the film, I was completely enthralled, and as a decided anti-Trekkie, I never thought I’d say this…I loved Star Trek.

And hopefully you hardcore fans will love it too.  There are tons of nice references dropped about the film, both for Trek fans (note the color of a certain sky jumping suit…you’ll predict his fate) and Abrams nerds (SLUSHO! GREG GRUNBERG’S VOICE!), and all and all, it’s just a stunning experience.

After the decidedly tepid kick off to the summer movie season last weekend with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I am super pleased to say…the summer movie season is finally here, with JJ Abrams’ relaunch of Star Trek.

Be there this weekend. In IMAX, if you can.

Apple: What ARE You Doing?

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I typically don’t speak a lot about the tech world on here, as I tend to more observe that realm than report.   I figure I enjoy tech, I like reading about tech, but there are people far, far more qualified than I to report on it.

However, the latest group of rumored moves from Apple (in a 24 hour period, no less!) have me confused, and interested as to their next step.

I make no bones about it, ever since I purchased an iPod back in 2006, I’ve been a devout fan of Apple.  It lead to me switching to OSX, and I follow their every move with a general furvor.

Despite this, I really cannot figure where Apple is going right now.

They’re a company in flux with Steve Jobs out with health issues, yet between iTunes, the iPhone and increasing market computing share (not to mention $29 Billion in cash reserves, which is amazing in this economy), they’re in a place that most companies would love to be in.

So what are these moves that are so confusing?

1.  A Possible Purchase of Twitter

Rumors hitting today indicate that Apple may be looking into purchasing Twitter for $700 Million.  While Twitter continues to grow (and the iPhone is surely helping, with it’s multitude of dedicated apps), what could Apple see in a company that generates no revenue stream?  Sure, when the word was that Google was attempting to purchase it, I could see why, between advertising on keywords and improving Twitter’s search, it’d be a Google Goldmine.  But for Apple – what’s the appeal?  I can’t even imagine it.

2. An Attempt In The Game Industry

Now this one I’m mostly basing on conjecture, but hear me out.  The iPod and iPhone are becoming ubiquiteous devices, and I’m sure while the AppleTV has done fine, they’d want a stronger presence in your home.  And hell, apparently the sales of games for the iPod Touch and iPhone have had Nintendo and Sony interested in whether a third competitor would arrive into the already bloody handheld console war.

But with the rumors that Apple wants to purchase EA (who holds a ridiculously large percentage of the home gaming market); and their hiring of Bob Drebin, who designed the graphics processor for Nintendo’s Gamecube, and Richard Teversham, formerly the senior director for insights and strategy at Microsoft’s Xbox Business…this could be the first shot against Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony for the home gaming market.

Could the market hold a 4th system? Maybe not.  But imagine if you will…

A set top box similar to the AppleTV, which allows you to stream your iTunes music and movies, download games, and do typical internet based tasks (e-mail, browsing, etc.)…add a possible interface for the iPhone and iPod touch…

Could change the way we see gaming.

What do you think Apple’s up to? Is this the next big step for them? Or a terrible journey down an ugly road?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

This Must’ve Been An Awkward Pitch…

“Alright Brad, we’re almost done with the teaser poster for Inglorious Bastards.

“Sweet deal, man. I can’t wait!”

“One thing though, we need your approval for the poster text.”

“Wait, why me…isn’t that Quentin’s gig?”

“Well, we call you a Bastard.”

“…”

“…Hello?”

Original Post: That Basterd Brad Pitt wants his Nazzi scalps! Check out your first look at the new INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS poster! — Ain’t It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news..

PONYO OF THE SEA has a Poster! And a shorter title!

Is there anything better than a new Studio Ghibli film?

I mean, really, aside from say Pixar, does any other studio scream immediate classic, any further?

Either way, the hype machine for Ponyo is officially on full tilt, as we now have the first teaser poster.  I like it, a nice understated image, with the english cast listed above.

But let’s really be honest, the teaser could be a crappy marker drawing on a wet paper bag, and I’d be there when Ponyo hits theaters in August.

Original Post: AICN has the one-sheet for Miyazaki’s PONYO, plus an exclusive still — Ain’t It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news..