Tricks of the Trade – There's more than one

I just recently managed to sit down and view the new Star Trek movie. Sure I’m way behind the rest of the world but I much prefer sitting down in my own comfy chair and enjoying a film where I can control the volume of both the movie and those around me.

I thought Star Trek was an extremely enjoyable movie. It had most of what I really want to see in a sci-fi flick. It was no Serenity, but what could be? I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Trek – TOS but I don’t dislike it either. I felt that this was an incredibly well thought out possible origin of the Enterprise crew. I was entertained and interested throughout the films’ entirety and wasn’t disappointed with too many aspects of the story. It’s increasingly unusual for me to watch a movie these days and be able to say that I really enjoyed more than the first three quarters of the film. The fact that this makes the list of “liked it all the way through” films is high praise indeed coming from me.

That being said…

I think we’re all aware of the potential drawbacks of Anamorphic Widescreen in relation to film and the risks it poses. Watching the visuals of Star Trek, I’m tempted to question if JJ Abrams just recently finished film school. I think every person of creative bent goes through phases where they favour a particular technique for a while, it’s part of the process. Star Trek looked to me like Abrams just discovered the potential behind lens flare as an artistic form of expression and went hog wild. I can appreciate the use of lens flare in certain situations but the scenes that didn’t contain a bright wash of light across the screen were few and far between. I began to wonder if the film itself wasn’t designed to digitally imprint a marketing message on the back of my retina and perhaps should only be viewed through a shoe-box with a hole in the end. I’m trying hard not to exaggerate here but I really found it distracting. Most directors recognize flare as a hazard of outdoor filming but JJ seemed to view it as a necessity both indoors and out. I had some concerns about experiencing a seizure in the style of The Simpsons Japanese-robot-cartoon-show. Between the lens flare and Abrams “skill” with camera-shake it was clear to me that the film may have posed a risk to my health.

Watching some of the extras I was shocked to listen to crew members praising Abrams not only for the absurd amount of camera shaking that took place but for his intentional placement of lens flare. That right, it wasn’t that using Anamorphic Widescreen just was too much for him, he did it all on purpose! Abrams even went so far as to have many of the CGI scenes edited to include lens flare so that we wouldn’t miss it when we weren’t watching live filmed segments.

Overall, I can’t say enough for how enjoyable the story was but for anyone who hasn’t seen Star Trek yet, I suggest you consult your physician before sitting down to enjoy it.

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