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Posted on May 7, 2009 by billsimmon in filmmaking, Life of Bill, poli sci-fi radio, SF, the nerd life, TV | 19 Comments

Star Trek opens TODAY. Pinch me. I am waiting until Saturday to see it so I can take my mom for her birthday so nobody spoil anything for me!

Word on the street is that this is far and away the best Trek movie yet (not too high a bar to reach in this Star Trek nerd’s opinion, STII: TWOK notwithstanding). Rotten Tomatoes has the film rated at a respectable 94%, and even negative reviews — like Roger Ebert’s — admit that it’s a really fun ride.

For as much of a Star Wars geek as I am, my Star Trek roots run deeper. By the time I was 13 I knew the titles of all 79 original Trek episodes. I had (still have) the Starfleet Technical Manual and Enterprise blueprints and lots of paperback novels and novelizations. Trek was a major part of my inner life growing up. Capt. Pike had a horse named Tango. I’m just saying…

The State of Vermont and Star Trek have a history too. Where No Man Has Gone Before — the 2nd Star Trek pilot and first appearance of Capt. James Kirk as a character — was directed by Vermonter James Goldstone. This new Trek film features a Vermont granite quarry. According to the Vermont Film Commission…

E.L. Smith Quarry in Graniteville,Vermont has a role in the new Star Trek movie.  Star Trek, the latest Paramount summer blockbuster film, digitally inserted actors into the quarry for one of the chase scenes. In this scene, a young Captain Kirk is driving a red convertible with a futuristic police officer in hot pursuit.  The scene ends with Kirk dangling at the precipice of the quarry staring down a 600’ drop. (copied from an email – no link provided)

Let the nerdgassing commence in the comments here, but NO SPOILERS please, at least until after Saturday. Look for a detailed discussion about the film on this Sunday’s Poli-Sci-Fi Radio.



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  1. On May 7, 2009, evening said:

    So how much would you like Emily to wear this?

  2. On May 7, 2009, Lia said:

    I remember them filming the quarry… I’m looking forward to seeing it in the movie.

  3. On May 7, 2009, Spine said:

    I need to start going to Etsy more often.

  4. On May 8, 2009, jmc said:

    Holy ‘Hailing frequencies open, Captain!!’…Miss u on this amazing trekkie day! d

  5. On May 9, 2009, Reba said:

    You are going to LOVE this movie! It’s great – wish you could have been there with us last night.

  6. On May 9, 2009, Spine said:

    Saw it last night. Lots o’ fun! And Chris Pine’s performance was VERY well realized.

  7. On May 9, 2009, odum said:

    A “respectable” 94%? Geez, dude. A respectable tomatometer is 75%, 94% is awesome.

  8. On May 10, 2009, Dustin said:

    I just watched this film yesterday and I’ll be going back on Wednsday with the wife for seconds. It’s without a doubt either as good or, heretical as it might be to say, better than Kahn. Other than a few fan-service camp moments I literally couldn’t find any flaws with the movie.

    Here’s to hoping you and your mom loved it, and I expect to hear about the trip on the next PSFR. :)

  9. On May 10, 2009, casey said:

    Could not believe how much I loved the new Kirk! Star Trek FTW!

  10. On May 11, 2009, NickC said:


    They did plenty of things right on the good guy character side, but without a decent bad guy I didn’t care.

    “Unmemorable” doesn’t even begin to cover Eric Banal’s performance. And “I want Spock dead NOW!” is hardly on the level of “I spit my last breath at thee…” Even the critters he put in the guy’s head to get his secrets was a pale imitation.

    Hey, bud, your wife and planet are STILL THERE RIGHT NOW, unlike Kahn’s. So why not fly back to Romulus and throw another shrimp on the barby? Maybe 25 years of hanging around in space waiting for Spock, you’ll get hungry for some of mom’s cooking. You got the biggest baddest spaceship in the universe, so just fly it home. GG

    Glad you all liked it, tho. So fun to go down memory lane.

  11. On May 11, 2009, odum said:

    Minor spoilers follow…

    Liked it a lot. Very well done, but it did feel a little rushed in places. I’m so sick of time travel in ST, but this one reminded me that time travel done well is like anything else done well – and this was one of the better ST time travel stories. Old Spock didn’t just poof out of existence, as parallels were created.

    There were science issues – like why the big supernova threat to begin with? A supernova isnt going to be enough to obliterate a planet in another solar system (bathe it with lethal radiation, sure) – and in any event, the explosion would move at the speed of light, giving Romulus years at the very least to evacuate. And putting ablack hole inside it wouldn’t make any difference. All Supernovae end up with black holes inside them.

    And as far as ST consistency goes, Delta Vega is on the edge of the galaxy. No way you could look up and see, er, a particular other planet implode – especially that view. Sheesh, that’s bigger than the Earth looks from the moon.

    My favorite is still IV, but this was great – and a unique ST experience. Nice to see the original characters front and center again. Looking forward to lots more.

    And I thought Eric Bana was quite good.

  12. On May 11, 2009, NickC said:

    A supernova doesn’t have warning light, as I understand it. Seeing it means feeling it (and it doesn’t feel good).

    I forgot in my post above how far back in time they went. The bad guy’s wife would not have been born yet. But he could still have gone to Romulus and saved/warned them.

    odum, when you say “Eric Bana was quite good,” do you mean he did an admirable job portraying a poorly written character? Or did you think Nero was a good (quality) bad guy as well? I found him quite uninteresting. Darth Vader, Magneto, Kahn, Joker…Nero??

  13. On May 12, 2009, odum said:

    Agreed it was a thinly written character. I suspect we’ll get some extra scenes in the DVD. There were a lot of times things felt rushed, and Nero’s motivation was number 1 on the list.

    But Bana was appropriately menacing, unstable, scary, twisted and psychologically broken. He stood apart from the other Romulans, and you could feel it when he was in the shot. I thought he was fine. More than fine. As thin as that part was, it could’ve been a disaster.

  14. On May 12, 2009, Lev said:

    I agree with the prevailing consensus that the movie was very good. Didn’t much look or feel like a Trek movie, but since the Trek look and feel were largely designed to cope with tiny budgets I wasn’t too disappointed.

    The only thing that really bugged me–aside from saying that all the Star Trek characters are roughly the same age (DeForrest Kelley could have been Walter Koenig’s dad on The Original Series) is that the engineering set looked too low-tech. I realize that the prevailing fashion in sci-fi over the past few decades has been toward more of a lived-in, dirty, exposed-gears-and-wires look, but this isn’t Run Silent, Run Deep.

    These are, admittedly, nerdgassing nitpicks. I thought that the time travel plot was fairly elegant, as far as these things go, and the writing was pretty good. Acting was certainly better than the TOS cast. Production design was golden. It did feel a little like a comic book movie (and I’m not sure I want Star Trek taking that direction), but hopefully future installments will deal with exploration and morality and all the rest of that good stuff that Star Trek does.

    So, in the pantheon I’d put this below Wrath of Khan and First Contact, and just above The Undiscovered Country and The Voyage Home. One of the best ST movies, but as Bill says, that’s not saying much. I agree with Matt Yglesias that Star Trek plays better on the small screen, and I don’t think any Star Trek can beat Deep Space Nine. The new movie, though, is plenty enjoyable.

  15. On May 12, 2009, odum said:

    Er… I mean my favorite was VI, not IV. Dyslexia, there.

  16. On May 12, 2009, Mom said:

    This is Bill’s mom speaking (I introduced him to the Star Wars universe). I thoroughly loved the film from an all-around experience perspective (e.g., laughs and reminiscences for longtime fans; dazzling special effects; and exhilarating action sequences), although the glare annoyed me.

    I thought the characters were well drawn, but I agree with some of you that Nero left a lot to be desired, especially regarding his motives and actions. Halfway through, I just told myself that he was nuts, so I could get on with my enjoyment of the other parts.

    My main issue (and it’s a small one, but an issue all the same) was with the time travel/parallel universe situation. I know the issues with those plot lines, but usually they aren’t equated as much as they were in this film. In my understanding, time travel is not the same as traveling to a parallel universe, which could be in another time or in an identical time. I wrestled with that throughout the film.

    All in all, though (and taken together as a package) a ripping ride.

  17. On May 13, 2009, Alex C said:

    I kept hoping we’d get some character moments from the Romulans. So when Korean Sulu got his Chinese Kung Fu on, we could be like, “Oh, he just killed the one who likes poetry,” or whatever. Instead he was just another big-clothes-wearing, wrinkly-forehead extra who grunted occasionally.

    (Seriously, John Cho looks so non Japanese he’s almost Norwegian.)

  18. On May 13, 2009, NickC said:

    “Halfway through, I just told myself that he was nuts, so I could get on with my enjoyment of the other parts.”

    Good one, Mom! I should have tried that.

  19. Jace Hall has brought together some of the greats from past Star Trek on It’s definitely worth a look.

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