Star Trek into Darkness — first impressions (spoilers!)

This post has taken a lot longer to write than I expected. I saw Star Trek into Darkness on Wednesday night (the studio, in its wisdom, decided to hold this film back from most critics until the last possible second) and began writing this post on Thursday morning, but life got in the way and I couldn’t finish it all in one sitting — and then, whenever I came back to this post, I found that I had more things to say, or different ways of saying what I had already said, and so on, and so on. But here we are now, on Monday, and the film has finished its first weekend in North America (where it slightly underperformed at the box office), and I am finally going to force myself to finish this thing.

So. Here’s the thing about the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies: He throws so many things at you, so quickly, that you cannot help but miss some details that are actually fairly important, at least on first viewing.

For example, it wasn’t until the second time that I saw his 2009 “reboot” of Star Trek that I realized virtually all of Kirk’s fellow Starfleet cadets had been killed by Nero, except for the ones who were on Kirk’s ship. As you may recall, Starfleet gets a distress call from Vulcan while Kirk is in the middle of being reprimanded by Starfleet authorities — and the disciplinary hearing is put on hold so that all of the recent graduates can board their ships and fly to Vulcan. When all of the ships go to warp speed, the Enterprise accidentally stays behind, because of an error on Sulu’s part — and when the Enterprise finally gets to Vulcan, it finds nothing but a debris field orbiting the planet. Which, when you think about it, means that everyone on all those other ships — including the green alien roommate of Uhura’s that Kirk slept with — is dead, dead, dead. But by that point, the film has forgotten them and moved on to other things; and then, at the film’s conclusion, everyone at Starfleet Academy cheers when Kirk is promoted to captain. Do they make at least a token nod to the fact that they just lost dozens, if not hundreds, of their classmates? Nope.

So, take anything I say in this post with a grain of salt. I have only seen the new film once, and I may have missed all sorts of stuff that won’t register until a second viewing. (One e-pal has already informed me that the movie refers to an incident from the comic-book prequel Countdown to Darkness, but I completely missed that reference as I was watching the film. And I’ve actually read that comic!)

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Interview: Will Ferrell (A Night at the Roxbury, 1998)

nightattheroxburyOf all the Saturday Night Live characters that have made it to the big screen, the Butabi brothers must have seemed the most unlikely. In a typical sketch, the brothers hop from one nightclub to another, bopping their heads to dance-club hits and trying, usually unsuccessfully, to pick up a babe or two. There’s no dialogue, no story, no character details beyond the fact that they like to go clubbing.

In fact, until A Night at the Roxbury brought these guys — played by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan — to the big screen, no one had any idea that they were even brothers. Ferrell himself admits that the film had to be created pretty much from scratch.

“The sketch is pretty much only on one level,” Ferrell says in a phone interview from Toronto. “It’s kind of this physical cartoon, is the best way to describe it. So we just had this blank page that we had to fill from scratch. We just locked ourselves in a room, and between myself and Chris and Steve Koren, who helped us write the sketch, we improvised a lot of it, like how we thought these guys would talk and sound and react and whether or not they’re just friends or in the same family. We found that having them in the same family helped to set up that loser mid-twentysomething slacker-who-doesn’t-know-what-to-do-with-their-life set-up.”

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