The future - but not as we know it

I enjoy Star Trek: I don't go to conventions decked out in pointy ears, and I do have other interests; but I've seen all the episodes and all the movies, and while recognising the outrageous silliness of some of it I think the overall future history they've created is remarkably well done.

So it was logical (Captain) that I should go to see the latest film, Star Trek, in its IMAX presentation. It should be said that it was not filmed in IMAX; it was shot in Panavision and blown up to an IMAX print for projection (which doesn't increase the definition but is necessary to punch enough light through it for such a large screen). Consequently it doesn't have the sharpness of a true IMAX film, and also though it uses the full width of the very large screen it doesn't use the full height, having a standard 70mm aspect ratio. The photography and editing is intended for normal cinema viewing, which does make the close-ups rather overpowering and some of the editing too fast to take everything in; and the spectacular scenes don't have the definition achieved in, for example, Monsters vs. Aliens (which was computer-generated at a definition to suit the film size).

That said, the impact is considerable; which would go for nothing if the film wasn't worth watching purely as a Star Trek narrative. On the whole it works very well in achieving the difficult task of presenting younger versions of very well known characters, in particular Chris Pine as the impulsive James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as the young and rather priggish Spock, who learns in the course of the story to temper adherence to logic with sensibly applied feelings: Quinto has the difficult task of appearing with the elderly Spock (played by the original actor, Leonard Nimoy).

In the story, a calamity 200 years in the future projects the elderly Spock and a seriously annoyed Romulan into the time period when Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura are StarFleet Academy students. The chaos caused by the Romulan causes the destruction of the Vulcan home world and the death of Spock's mother; and the three are drafted to the Enterprise together with several of their future crewmates to help defeat him. Once again Kirk's ability to fist-fight saves the universe.

The film pulls a neat fast one (cheat, if you like); because the Romulan's time-travel causes events which did not happen in the familiar Star Trek history (the destruction of Vulcan, and the emergency drafting of the cadets to the defence fleet), all the subsequent plot takes place in what is in effect an alternate timeline. This means that any sequels can do whatever they want, brushing off fans' complaints of 'this couldn't happen because in <name of episode> <an event> happened' - the answer is, 'this is an alternate timeline: it's all different'.

It's the future, Jim - but not as we've known it.

Posted: Fri - May 8, 2009 at 08:37 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM