by Jeff Siegel
I’m old enough so that I watched the original Star Trek TV series when it ran on NBC 40-some years ago. But this is not a cranky, middle-aged Trekkie post. This is a cranky, why aren’t movie reviews any better than this post?
Peruse the cyber-ether, and you’ll discover that the reviewers who are dissecting director J.J. Abrams’ entry in the Star Trek series apparently copied from each other’s papers. Or are using the same film critic software. Or attended cliche school on the same day. Because the reviews, for the most part, all sound pretty much the same. Do these similarities mean that the reviewers are lazy? That they prefer to use blurbs and ideas planted with them by the marketers and the PR releases? And that they don’t believe in craft anymore? Somewhere, Pauline Kael is sobbing. (And yes, you’ll have to look up who she is yourself.)
• Abrams didn’t make a movie; he “rebooted the Star Trek franchise.” Even a Scottish review used the phrase.
• Abrams’ great skill as a director revolves around his ability as a mythmaker and his insights into pop culture. A variation on this theme was almost constant, and especially in both The New York Times and Washington Post reviews. It was enough to make me to look for my copy of Edith Hamilton. (Yep, have to look that one up yourself, too.)
• Those of us who were born before the first George Bush presidency are geeks, nerds and Trekkies. Which is to be expected, I suppose. And the movie is not your dad’s Star Trek. Or it’s not your uncle’s. Thankfully, I didn’t find anyone saying it wasn’t my grandfather’s Star Trek. And what’s with all these women critics relegating Star Trek to dads and uncles? I could have sworn, in those long ago days when we watched the reruns in my college dorm’s TV lounge, there were women with us.
• “Live long and prosper!” Thanks, L.A. Times. And Cincinnati City Beat. And they were really clever in San Francisco: “Kick butt and prosper.”
The best review I found, which treated the film as a film and not as a chance to write sociology-lite, get quoted in an ad, or parse sentences like a grammarian at Entertainment Tonight, came from Michael Phillips at The Chicago Tribune. Thank you, sir. Your work is much appreciated.
(Promotional photo of the new version of the Enterprise in Star Trek is from Paramount Pictures. To see a trailer for the 11th installment of the Star Trek franchise, please see below.)
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Cincinnati City Beat
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by Jeff Siegel