Treknobabble #41: Star Trek: The Trailer

Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.

Here in the retirement village of St. Catharines, it’s hard to gauge the excitement surrounding the new Star Trek movie. Even with the Internet, there’s a sense of isolation. I am in the camp of those who believe that Internet chatter isn’t a reliable gauge of reality. But it’s hard to deny the usefulness of the Internet in providing quick communication. So the news that a Star Trek movie trailer would be showing at the beginning of screenings of Quantum of Solace piqued my interest.

I felt obligated to see the Star Trek trailer in order to review it for Treknobabble and I had voted for Casino Royale as the best Bond film ever, so I thought I might as well go to see Quantum of Solace. The trailers for Quantum were excellent and advance word was that Quantum was more of Casino. I knew that the Star Trek trailer would be posted on the Internet soon, but there’s nothing like watching a trailer on the big screen.

In the past decade, I’ve stopped going to movie theatres because I was getting frustrated dozing off during movies. I’ve tried various things to keep me awake, but nothing seems to really work. Have you ever been driving and dozed off? Sometimes sleep takes over unexpectedly. And when I’ve felt myself dozing off, I’ve tried pinching my thighs. When I’ve been driving, I’ve slapped myself in the face, but doing this in a movie theatre doesn’t seem appropriate.

At the movies, eating snacks seems to keep me awake, but it’s hard to keep eating for over an hour. One of these days, my head will plop into my popcorn. Taking a nap before show time seems like the best thing, but you know how hard it is trying to force yourself to sleep. Even when I managed to take a good nap before Grindhouse, I still fell asleep during the Death Proof half.

There are possible remedies I haven’t tried. I haven’t tried taking “black betties” or any type of energy pills to keep me awake. I don’t drink coffee, because I hate the taste.

Anyway, I had recently gone to the Fanboy Fridays Halloween midnight showing of Midnight Meat Train. The show was partly sponsored by Film Junk, so I thought I might as well attend and show my support. The proceeds were also partly going to charity. And even though the movie was “horrible” in not a good way, I managed to stay awake through the whole thing.

Yeah, I haven’t forgotten that this Treknobabble is about the Star Trek trailer. So there I was at the Empire Theatres at the Pen Centre with the Big Three of the Film Junk Podcast: Sean, Jay and Greg. I’ll let Greg in his own review describe the meal he had before the movie. For the record, I had had a delicious turkey wrap sample at Zellers. The theatre was showing its pre-movie movie trivia up on the movie screen. There was an appropriate interview segment from a popular Canadian entertainment show, The Hour. The host was interviewing Ricky Gervais about how annoying movie audience members could be. Hmm… Maybe they showed this before every movie. I was expecting an on-screen announcement about turning off cell-phones, but all of a sudden, the Columbia movie logo came up and we were into the movie trailers.

To be honest, I don’t recall the house-lights going down, so maybe I was anticipating the Star Trek movie trailer more than I thought I was. I had read some blog comments from people who had attended the special Thursday midnight showings of Quantum of Solace that the Star Trek trailer had some quick edits, so if you blinked, you would most likely miss something. And someone had mentioned that the audience members didn’t know they were watching the Star Trek movie trailer until a character said, “My name is James Tiberius Kirk,” which I expected would be at the end of the trailer. Some Canadian commenters had even mentioned that the Star Trek trailer was not shown. I just thought that the regular screenings of Quantum would have the trailer.

Now, to preserve my journalistic integrity, I must admit that I can’t remember the order of the trailers I’m about to describe. Even conferring with my fellow Film Junkers afterwards wasn’t much help, because they weren’t able to recall. But I’ll list them in the order that I think they came up.

OK, so the Columbia logo came up and Will Smith appeared. I wasn’t familiar with this movie, but its premise seemed promising with Will Smith helping people with dire consequences. I thought the movie was referred to as Seven Questions, but Sean tells me it’s called Seven Pounds which doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Note to the filmmakers: The trailer was totally forgettable. Greg needed to remind me about this trailer afterwards.

Then the Columbia logo came up again. The next trailer was for The International with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. There was some nice location footage with a cinematic dialogue scene on the rooftops with Clive and another character.

Next up was the Adam Sandler, Disney movie Bedtime Stories trailer. Sandler was up to his usual shtick. I get the feeling that Sandler has lost his audience. But it was pretty savvy of him to do this Disney movie, because I can see a new generation of adolescents who would find his shtick pretty funny. For some reason, his generic, pretty love interest in the film has escaped my mind. I think I know the actress. Another possible love interest is played by Keri Russell of Felicity fame. (This last piece of info might be erroneous, because I might be misremembering. I’m telling you this so that I don’t have to fact check.)

The next movie trailer was for Valkyrie. When I first heard about this project, I had thought it was really risky for Tom Cruise to be playing a Nazi. But the trailer made it clear that he was playing one of the good Nazis. I don’t know if this is based on a true story, but if it is, it’s a longtime coming. I remember a Film Junk commenter commenting on people’s impressions of German cinema and Germans in general. The stench of Hitler has managed to engulf people’s perceptions of the German people. Midway through the trailer, I began thinking this could easily be Mission Impossible IV with a time travelling Ethan Hunt.

Then the Maple logo came up and at first, I thought I was watching the Watchmen trailer because Jay had told me it might be shown. But the trailer was for The Spirit based on the Will Eisner comic book character. I have not seen Sin City, but the trailer looks very much like the Sin City trailer in terms of visual style. The dialogue seemed rather corny.

“This sure is a lot of trailers,” I thought. They must have saved the best for last. I wondered if the familiar mountain Paramount logo would still be used. And then the “Feature Presentation” screen came on. I turned to my right to look at Greg, who gave me a mocking laugh. And then I turned to Jay, who just smiled and snickered.

Postscript: Later that day on his computer, Sean showed me the Star Trek trailer that someone had filmed in a theatre with an HD camera. Initially, I thought I was watching a car commercial that the videographer had started filming at. We had seen a promo for the Rav4 (coincidentally, the vehicle I drive) before Quantum of Solace. Sean was filming my reaction to the trailer and I was jokingly making comments about the kid in the car commercial being Kirk. Then the kid says, “I’m James Tiberius Kirk.” I was fooled! Never thought Kirk would be driving a red convertible Corvette in the 22nd century.

The montage of scenes that followed was pretty haphazard, but the colour and lighting screamed out from every frame. It was neat to see bits and pieces of everything. I’ve always viewed trailers as a mini-art form. In many cases, trailers are better than the actual movies, mostly because all the good scenes are distilled into a couple of minutes. As a Trekkie, I thought the trailer was awesome. As a film critic, I thought the trailer was awful.

  • “As a Trekkie, I thought the trailer was awesome. As a film critic, I thought the trailer was awful.”

    You need to explain that!

  • When I said that on the podcast, I didn’t realize the play on words that I had created with awesome / awful. When you think about it, something that is awful or full of awe should be really good, and something that is awesome or has some awe should be so-so.

    But linguistics aside, I’ll try to explain what I meant, Ryan M. This probably won’t elaborate on what I said during the podcast, but I’ll give it a try.

    As a Trekkie, I wanted to see as much as possible of what had been filmed and the trailer certainly has quite a mish-mash of imagery that is intriguing and makes me want to see more. The music taken from Children of Dune is quite foreboding and fits the intensity of the imagery. There is even a shot of some toothy creature gaining upon a character that is reminiscent from a shot in The Transformers trailer. And the final retro title with the three-note Star Trek melody is sublime.

    As a film critic, the whole coming of age beginning and subsequent mish-mash was corny beyond belief. The imagery was all over the place. Eric Bana saying “The wait is over,” is corny beyond belief. I’m not even going to try to find a different way to say “corny beyond belief.” Simon Pegg saying whatever he said is corny beyond belief. The trailer makes Star Trek look like a piece of kids entertainment that’s not worthy of serious criticism. Harlan Ellison once said that “Star Trek aspires to mediocrity,” and the trailer surely validates his statement.

    BTW, they showed the Star Trek trailer on television during Fringe last night. I’ve never seen a movie advertised so early before.

  • Whut?

    “As a film critic, the whole coming of age beginning and subsequent mish-mash was corny beyond belief.”

    It’s a trailer! How can you possibly know whether or not it’s corny in the movie? Premature criticism.

    “The imagery was all over the place.”

    It’s a TRAILER! It’s supposed to show you a wide variety of what the movie has to offer. So if the imagery was “intriguing” how is that wrong to a “film critic.” (However, if you are referring to the corvette at the beginning I think that’s ridiculous too. I guess Kirk stole it from some super-rich bastard. Who could afford to have that fully restored vette in the 23rd century?)

    “corny beyond belief”

    You should know better than I do: the OS is of maximum corn. Sometimes corn is an appropriate side dish.

    “The trailer makes Star Trek look like a piece of kids entertainment that’s not worthy of serious criticism.”

    Seemed to fit into an older demographic to me. Sex, violence, and explosions make that seem obvious.

    Reed Farrington is a man of perplexing contradiction.

  • Ryan M, I appreciate your confusion.

    My laptop battery is just about dead, so I gotta make this quick. Your comments are well-justified, but my point was that if I was not a Trekkie, that’s what a fil…

    Sorry for the late reply, Ryan M. My laptop did indeed die before I could send the above. So I’ll complete my thought now.

    My criticisms that you responded to were of the trailer itself, and somewhat to the movie. The “coming of age” aspect can be done well and can be done badly, but I was addressing the fact that it’s a theme that gets overused to appeal to mainstream audiences.

    As a Trekkie, I know that Star Trek is corny, but the serious film critic who views the trailer will have his conviction justified that Star Trek is a kiddie show not serious enough for film criticism.

    Anyway, I appreciate that you enjoyed the trailer as the Trekkie in me did as well.

    BTW, the trailer for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is intriguing, but it too fails in the visual cohesiveness department for me. It’s just all over the place.