So, we went and saw the new Star Trek movie last night...which means we're fully into summer movie season here in Iqaluit. I noticed a poster for Angels and Demons saying it was coming next week. And I find this a bit of a surprise...Wolverine only stayed for one week, but the Hannah Montana movie is now into its second week here. Then again, perhaps not that surprising. When we saw it last Sunday there weren't that many people in the audience for a movie that had only been in town for three days.
Trek, on the other hand, was pretty packed.
Look, it's probably not much of a surprise to discover I liked the movie a lot. It also has a staggering 95 per cent positive review ratio from movie critics according to Rotten Tomatoes. And it's pretty much everything you've likely heard or read before. That the casting for all the characters is spot on (I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite, but Simon Pegg as Scotty won big bonus points with me for his line "You bet yer arse, Cap'n" while running around engineering trying to save the ship). That the action sequences are all top notch and that it is all a tremendous amount of fun.
Here's where I want to tip my hat, though. And that's to Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. They're the guys who dreamed all of this up. They're the writers. And yeah, I'm a writer and I have a bias toward people in the craft, but if you think writing this movie was an easy thing I invite you to take a look at the previous 10 movies and see how many of them really work. Only three of them I would consider to be really good movies (Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home and First Contact). The rest are mediocre at best or just awful at worst.
Trek movies are not easy to write. You have to make fans happy, but still try and lure in non-fans. Which during the franchises prime was hard. But now, the franchise has been all but dead for years. People are burnt out on it, fans have moved onto other kinds of science fiction, notably Battlestar Galactica and non-fans could not care less about the continuity and intricities that have hamstrung Star Trek for years.
So go ahead and write that. Write a movie that fans love and can lure in and make things simple enough for non-fans to follow. Then make it fun. Not laugh a minute fun, but just the kind of movie where you walk out of the theatre after two hours with a smile on your face.
These guys wrote that movie. Yes, the actors did fine jobs and J.J. Abrams directed a hell of a movie. But there won't be many writers that had harder jobs this year than these two guys. And they did it. They likely won't win any Oscars for it, but tip your hat in their direction. This was a bear to write well, and they did it.
I'm not saying it was perfect. Some of the time travel was a bit wonky and the "red matter" thing was a silly sci-fi macguffin even by Trek's generous standards of science. But they rebooted the franchise for a new generation of people without offending hardcore Trekkers (God love Abrams and his fascination with alternate realities). So mission accomplished.
And now, for the next reboot. I'm blatantly robbing this idea from John Rogers. If they had to go and reboot the Star Trek: The Next Generation franchise, who would you want to see cast? I'm oddly stuck on the idea of Jason Straham as Picard. He's about as French as Patrick Stewart, and the notion of Picard ripping of his shirt, kicking the crap out of alien bad guys in elaborate fight scenes involving motor oil or fire hoses (in space!) and then coming back to the ship, shooting a look at Deanna Troi (played by Megan Fox) and then heading off to to Captain's quarters fills me with mirth.
But what do you think?
1. Drink to me, babe - A.C. Newman
2. Call and answer - Barenaked Ladies*
3. So sorry - Feist
4. Make you cry - Jonathan Coulton
5. Smoke you out - The Donnas