Monday, September 6, 2010

Day Sixty-Six: Star Trek

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #165
Year: 2009
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto

Well, here we are. A glossy 2009 summer movie remaking a 1960s science fiction series is the 165th greatest movie of all time, according to IMDb voters. Umm, okay. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Star Trek. I had a great time in the theater. J.J. Abrams successfully took a series that was virtually unwatchable for everyone except its cultist fans and made it a sexy, massively appealing action flick that neatly compacted decades of sci-fi mythology into a two hour script without insulting old fans or alienating newcomers. That took a lot of skill. I do not doubt this. But there is just no way that this is one of the best movies of all time. Hell, when I set out to make a list of my favorite movies of 2009, I didn't even consider putting this in the top 5. And yet here it is at #165 on the IMDb Top 250. This is definitely what the list's critics are talking about.

For what it is, Star Trek is incredibly well-executed. It gave the long-running franchise the shot in the arm that it needed, and it introduced Kirk and Spock to a generation of kids – hell, and a generation of adults – whose familiarity with the characters may have been previously limited to references on Family Guy. Abrams' shiny reboot starts with the births and childhoods of James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), then shows how their disparate upbringings resulted in their presence on the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. After that, the movie unfolds pretty much as one would expect. They butt heads. They meet the rebooted versions of the rest of the crew – Bones, Nyota, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu. There's some time travel and parallel dimensions stuff in there – Abrams is nothing if not ambitious – and after something of a showdown with miscast villain Nero (Eric Bana), the film gives you a knowing grin that there will be a minimum of one sequel. Roll credits. That was a lot of fun!

But was that a great movie? Don't we all have fun at the movies at least ten times over the course of a year? Do we really believe that every movie we have fun watching is a great film? Of course not. The reason that Star Trek is so high on this list is that a ton of people went to see it last summer, then they all came home and said "Wow, that was a pretty good movie!" and gave it an 8/10 on the IMDb. That's it. There's really no good reason for this movie to be on the list, and over the next couple of years, it will fall off. If this is one of your favorite movies of all time, feel free to bash me, but more importantly, please explain to me what you saw in this that makes it more deserving of a spot on the Top 250 than any other technically competent, fun, big-budget summer movie. I liked the movie, but I also liked Independence Day. Come on, guys.

The Good: It's a really fun popcorn movie with nonstop action and glossy special effects.

The Bad: I immediately stopped thinking about it when I got home from the theater.

The Skinny: You've got to be kidding me.


  1. Going into Star Trek I did not want to see it at all, I thought it was going to be standard fair stupid. What I got was one of the best sc-fi films ever. I thought this was pretty much modern day Star Wars. I found it to be a well-acted, well-written masterpiece of a film. The effects and action are also top notch. It was a near perfect film from top to bottom. From my prespective I find it to be completely deserving of its spot in the Top 250 and it ranked number 2 on my end of 2009 list.

  2. There is something to be said for a light, fun movie on the top 250. You even explained that over the next few years it will fall off...and that's what it's supposed to do. I don't consider a good movie to necessarily be one that makes me think (although that is a major criterion); however, I do think the mutable nature of the IMDB 250 should allow for movies that are wonderfully produced and just fun.

    Unfortunately, this blog couldn't begin to keep up with the changes, so its place on the 250 here does indeed seem odd.

  3. It doesn't belong on the 250 that is for sure.
    But out of all the summer blockbusters that have come out in the last few years (ignoring Inception) this is probably the most deserving one. It was the second most critically acclaimed film of that year. I mean, it really shouldn't shock that it's up there.
    Do you remember when Transformers was #50? Cuz I do and I hated that movie...

  4. HAHA! I was not aware that Transformers made the list at one point. That's tragic.