Sunday, June 07, 2009

How (Not) To Break A World Record, And Other (Star Trek Related) Observations

I was sorry to hear that Luminato missed the world record for most guitarists playing the same song. They were short by 180.

The organizers of the event did remarkably well, given their self-imposed forehead-smacking handicaps. They wanted a well-known song, a catchy song that could be strummed by anyone with basic guitar skills. And they wanted the song to be Canadian.

If I look at the contenders, I have trouble recalling the guitar lines. Bachman's stands out, as does Neil Young's, and I can hum the chorus to "Cuts Like A Knife" but for the life of me I can't summon up its guitar intro. As for Feist, well ... I might have transferred her song to my wife's iPod, but that doesn't mean I can hum it for you. Etc. etc.

Let's face it: that room was filled with men my age or older. They all knew Young's song. They could teach their four-year-old grandsons to play it. But Germany had it right: if this is the record you want to break, you have to go with Deep Purple. Children are born humming the riff to "Smoke On The Water".

*****

This weekend marks the third time I have escorted my daughters and a revolving cast of friends to see Star Trek. That's three viewings of the same film in less than one month, when my first choice would be to see some of the other fine offerings available. But as I said to one friend's mother, I can remember how it was when I was 12. "Tell me about it," she said. "I went to see Star Wars 40 times. Every Saturday, me and my friend giving our five bucks to the lady in the window. Oh, and Grease? Lost track."

The girls who took my money at the concession stand seemed to think this was all rather sweet. One said she had a friend who'd seen the movie nine times and counting. "She goes to the drive-in," she added, as if this explained the frequency. (The drive-in? I thought they all shut down!)

On my third go-round I was surprised to register just how many scenes retained their thrill factor. The opening scene in particular builds with impressive ominous drama. We get the usual Paramount screen, followed by "Bad Robot Productions," while the orchestra horns hit a Wagnerian triad with increasing urgency. Then the screen is completely filled with a confusing spectacle. Are we falling? No: we're skating over something incomparably huge. A starship. It's a starship!

On the ride back my 12-year-old said, "That first scene gets my heart racing every time!" It does mine, too. When the writers first talked about wanting to inject some Star Wars spectacle into the franchise, my heart sank. But here, too, they picked up on exactly the right element to pull viewers in. Star Trek's opening scene matches the thrill of the original Star Wars. It has to be seen on the big screen to be experienced; once experienced, it begs to be seen again and again. And it will not translate well to the home theatre.

The third time around there were certainly scenes where, if I had the habit, I would have filed out with the other smoking parents to light up and discuss global politics. But overall the movie works as fabulous space opera and offers the 12-year-old viewer exactly what Star Wars did over 20 years ago: a universe where a confused kid is welcomed and encouraged to discover his -- and her -- unique and exciting destiny.

6 comments:

DarkoV said...

Sir,
I hope that one of the times you saw it was on an IMAX screen. I was spoiled; I could not go, when I was offered a chance, to see it on a regular screen.
That opening scene? We were ducking in the theater, convinced we were going to get clobbered.

I'm not that big of a Star Trek fan, but this movie was fantastic. Just to see Capt. James T. Kirk get clobbered by the incredibly too-touchy Spock was worth the view.

Joel said...

Has to be seen on the big screen, huh? Nuts. And here I am waiting for the DVD release.

Interesting that your daughters wanted to see it 3 times. I guess this Star Trek really is pulling in a younger audience.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - IMAX, you say? I could almost be tempted to see it a fourth time. Almost. And you're right: this James T. Kirk seems built to take a beating from everyone, including his future best buddy.

Joel - It could be difficult for me to forgive a man who manages to see this on the big screen, but can't eke out the two hours to see something that's really this good.

Joel said...

Well, I don't know if I would use the word "manages". Perhaps "was reduced to seeing this" might be a better verb choice.

When you live out in the countryside, it is difficult to see movies. It's not just the 2 hours to see the movie, it's the hour there and the hour back, and it essentially ends up being the whole day.
Still, you've got me considering it now.

DarkoV said...

Joel, I know ye not...but I'd say the ride is worth it. Take along some of the music that WP has recommended and your trip may be as interesting as the movie. Big Scree is the way to go; IMAX is the only way to go.

Oh, yeah. Is Simon Pegg the best Scotty yet?

Whisky Prajer said...

The third time out the girls all agreed Scotty (Pegg) was the show-stealer. I think that's another lovely aspect to the flick: each performer gets an ample frame in which to shine.

And I know exactly what you mean, Joel, about spending two hours of your day just traveling to see a movie. For the last 10 year's I've begrudged that trip every time I took the girls to see a non-Pixar film. Democratic tuneage was another issue: just imagine making that quarterly trip to the sounds of Hairspray or Mama Mia. If, when you finally see this film, you are not as bowled over as I, bear these conditions in mind and you may understand where I'm coming from.

But, I mean, c'mon: You like Trek.