|Kirk (Chris Pine) running through the red jungle.|
That's motion blur, not lens flare.
You definitely get your money's worth with this film. You get to see a lot of amazing stuff (even in 2D) and the action is well-directed and logically mapped out. Yeah, after a while there's too much action, especially at the end, but that's the entire stated purpose of J. J. Abrams and Paramount: to strip out Star Trek and turn it into a summer action-and-effects franchise.
The film kicks off in the thick of action, with Kirk and McCoy running for their lives through a blood-red alien forest. The visuals are amazingly cool, pure sci-fi. They're on a pre-technological planet, and the Prime Directive is about to be violated if they can't get out undetected. This being the new, kick-ass, impulsive Jim Kirk, he can't manage NOT to violate the Prime Directive, having the Enterprise rise out of the sea and fly over the terrified locals.
This part bothered me-- but not because the movie was violating Star Trek precedence: the opening sequence was quite faithful to the feel of how away missions went on The Original Series, and if Roddenberry could afford to show anything like this he would have. What bothered me is the fact the Enterprise was hidden from prying native eyes... under water. I know the technology of Star Trek is a magical thing, dilithium this and tritanium that, but... well.. it seemed crazier than usual.
|Planet Express Ship,|
flying through a gaseous medium
of 1013 millibars or less.
Farnsworth: Dear Lord, that's over 150 atmospheres of pressure.
Fry: How many atmospheres can this ship withstand?
Farnsworth: Well it's a spaceship, so I'd say anywhere between zero and one.
After this opening development, Kirk is busted by Starfleet and his command is taken away. The main plot starts up here too-- it involves terrorism, questions about militarizing Starfleet, basically another examination of the post-9/11 world filtered into the Star Trek universe. The main story also references a lot of details from both the series and the previous movies: It's done with a certain reverence, and went a long way (but not all the way) to redeeming J. J. Abrams vision for this universe. It's good enough to compel me NOT to spoil any of the details!
A few notes:
|The bad guy, surrounded by redshirts. The incidental|
body count in ST:ID is really high: not "destroying
Vulcan" high, but a lot of digital extras get blown up.
• This new movie continues the franchise tradition of hiring actors with long, rolling names to play villains: Ricardo Montalban (ST-II), Laurence Luckenbill (ST-V) and now Benedict Cumberbatch.
• The J. J. Abrams lens flare thing: Yeah, it's his director's signature, and it's in a lot of ST:ID. But there is not nearly as much of it as there was in the last Star Trek movie. Fact of the matter is, most of the most obvious optical flaring happens in the scenes set on the Enterprise's bridge.
|The business end of an anamorphic lens.|
But times change and film styles certainly evolve. J. J. Abrams is sending a coded message with his little flare signature. If you really know how cinema lenses work, you can tell that Abrams only shows anamorphic lens flares. This is the kind of lens used exclusively for Panavision and CinemaScope cinematography: they are cylindrical, rather than spherical, designed to squeeze the image: they make flares that look like blue horizontal lines and wide counter-reflections. What he is saying: “This is a widescreen motion picture, not digital cinema: it is part of the common heritage of Hollywood spectacles also shot with anamorphic lenses.”
• Because ST:ID is essentially a franchise episode we've now dispensed with the origin story and the characters are now settled into interpersonal relationships much as they were in The Original Series. (except for Lt. Uhura and Spock, of course.). Their banter is looser and as a result this film is surprisingly funny. I saw this film on Sunday afternoon, a half-full auditorium: I have no idea why I was the only person laughing at the jokes.