'Star Trek' is a blockbuster, predictably

Over the last four decades, the "Star Trek" franchise has become a part of our cultural tapestry, capturing the imaginations of countless fans including those residing on the Trekkie fringe who often seem a bit unhinged in their focused, surreal commitment to all things Star Trek.

Many possess an encyclopedic knowledge of television and film plots and concomitant characters and debate, analyze and scrutinize — on blogs and Web sites — Star Trek minutiae. Many appear at conventions and at film premiers, in costume, some with pointy Vulcan ears, others in Federation uniform packing phasers set on stun.

For others, the Trekkie tales have become the stuff of mythology, a source of endless fascination. Hence, it's not your usual crowd that sits down to screen what amounts to the most recent installment of a 43-year journey of television shows and movies, some really good, other solidly cheesy.

Does this newly released prequel — amounting to two-hours of backstory, which could have been titled "Star Trek the Early Years" — deliver some solid entertainment? Well, that would depend on whom you ask. Lots of fans embrace anything Star Trek and wait for years for the next major film to appear. Others might find the adolescent humor a distraction, giving the film an immature feel. And seeing Spock (Zachary Quinto) and James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) as young twenty-somethings, arrogant, full of themselves, can be a bit tedious.

The Romulans (resident baddies) are far more interesting: shaved heads, rococo facial tattoos, looking like deranged Visigoths and led by Captain Nero (Eric Bana), your basic inter-galactic sociopath. They are one bad looking crew. Their Romulan star ship is a dark, ominous craft that seems more like the working end of a blender than a star ship. Now this is an outfit that deserves some backstory.

Of course, the special effects in Star Trek are superb, as is the case in all of these big tent summer blockbusters. But at its core, and this was the case with "Wolverine" as well, "Star Trek" simply doesn't tell a very coherent or interesting story. It also skips over any real character development or character connections and the dialogue lacks substance in favor of clipped crisis management conversation ("Raise the shields! Go to warp speed!").

Perhaps it's unfair to expect that an action-adventure film have moments that are thoughtful, or that the story be tightly written and challenging. It does happen, however. "Ironman," last year's big sci-fi movie, had its moments coupled with some top-drawer acting.

Did Star Trek have a great first weekend? Yes. And will it take its place in the pantheon of Trekkie movies to be discussed long after it drops off the radar, replaced by the next big summer movie? Definitely.


Screenwriters often pick a recognizable phenomenon from the panoply of human behavior and give it an intense new twist. Sometimes these same writers take an older movie and resurrect the plot, make it more diverse, tweak the characters and bingo, enter stage left "Obsessed."

Think of this film as part of what is often referred to as the psychotic stalker-chick genre wherein your dream temp, Lisa (Ali Larter) — solidly efficient, sleek and attractive, with smooth manners and a calculating eye — shows up for work, filling in for investment banker Derek Charles' (Idris Elba) out sick male secretary.

In the setup it's established that Charles is happily married, new house, new baby and a massive investment banker portfolio that allows him to ride an economic tidal wave that everyone believes will never crest (now we know it did).

Apparently, when single, Charles was quite the ladies' man. Now married to Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), who was his secretary, he has promised unbending fidelity no matter the temptations.

Into the office and into his life comes the benign-looking Lisa. Charles assumes she is vulnerable, having some boyfriend problems, new on the job and in need of advice; instead she is hunting, plying him with charm while tightly constructing the fantasy that she can wedge herself between the couple, convincing herself that she is irresistible and Charles wants only her.

When Charles begins to realize that Lisa is his worst nightmare, ala "Fatal Attraction," he is in too deep, fearing that if he confides in Sharon or his boss, he will look guilty and both will want to know why he didn't stop this runaway train at the outset. Couldn't he have easily contacted human resources? When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. That fact that he doesn't stop digging is the source of the sustained tension.

Of course, this is a B movie, a rewrite of Glen Close and Michael Douglas locked in mortal combat. In "Obsession," however, act three finds Sharon and Lisa in a prolonged confrontation that gets, well, physical and though gritty, it's also a bit of a stretch.

While not a great movie, it's not bad either. This film is visceral and the first two acts are well done. The characters are credible, charming, and though the audience is way ahead of Charles, recognizing that the psycho stalker-chick is locked and loaded while Charles is painfully slow to realize he is prey, that doesn't detract from the film.

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