If my calculations are correct, when this CD hits five hundred rotations per minute… you're gonna hear some serious shit.
This is the first in a wave of holy grails about to come out this holiday season. FSM has the Miklós Rózsa box set coming, Bruce Kimmel of Kritzerland is promising something really awesome is about to come (and I do tend to like what he does), La La Land just dropping Jerry Goldsmith's Innerspace and James Newton Howard's The Fugitive for December 1, and there is another set of club releases from Varèse Sarabande coming out before the end of the year. Between all of this and the holidays coming up, you'll excuse me if I am going to be a bit stingy with the money over the next few weeks…
As if Regular Scrabble was not enough, my co-workers and I have discovered Super Scrabble, which operates on a larger board (441 spaces) and doubles the amount of tiles (although they adjusted the ratio of letters). If you enjoy standard Scrabble, you will be blown away by the scoring opportunities in the larger scale version of the game. The center of the board is the same as the classic Scrabble set, but once you leave familiar territory, you're in a sea of triple word scores, double, triple and quadruple letter scores, and at each of the four corners a quadruple word score. Not only are there amazing scores to be had, but the sheer amount of space on the board means that it is a lot easier to place a bingo out, even toward the end of the game (and what's more frustrating than having a bingo that you can't place?). In one game I even managed to hit both a triple and a quadruple word score at once, and yes, that means what you think it means — a hundred fifty-eight points on a single turn with no value letters.
"The Enterprise is a beautiful lady and we all love her!"
The release of Star Trek on Blu-ray is most satisfying. The presentation is, as expected, quite glorious, and it is nice to be able to see the movie again. It really is a very repeatable movie, and there are a lot of nifty details in the background that one can only discover with the scrutiny that home video allows.
The film came out right when my grandmother was truly expiring. I had extremely skeptical of the project — not about the idea of rebooting Star Trek, which had felt was necessary for a long time prior to clear out the stifling restrictions of continuity, but because I was less than impressed with the other J.J. Abrams film adaptation of a television series I'd seen, that being Mission: Impossible III (although I must admit to not being particularly partial to that franchise in general). I was, however, quite jazzed by the release of the first season of Star Trek on Blu-ray, the discovery of a rather reasonable 7:30 first showing and the opportunity to attend said showing with two of my oldest friends made it an enticing prospect, despite my trepidation.
If you've read my initial comments about the film, then you know how satisfying I found it on many levels. It wasn't just a fun movie, it felt to me like Star Trek… not the bloated, stale institution the franchise eventually became, but that maverick 60s sci-fi series that just wouldn't die. Yes, they're juiced up and adrenaline-injected for the supercharged 21st century, but these people were all still quite recognizable as the characters I had grown up with and had just gotten reacquainted with, and that quite welcome sense of familiarity combined quite well with the character-driven architecture of the story and the reliance on the character development allowed me to ignore some of the minor plotholes of the film (most of which are addressed in the deleted scenes).
And, of course, the central message of Star Trek has always been that there can be a bright future was central to Abrams' approach (yes, yes, I know, insert lens flare joke here). The movie in many ways served as a light during a dark time for me, and, as cheesy as it may sound, this summer popcorn movie did indeed give me a little hope right when it was truly needed. And while "this may not be your father's Star Trek," I have to say that after almost every viewing of this movie in the theater, I'd usually end up popping in at least one episode of the original series when I got home.
Having the film at home also means that I can give greater attention to the placement and variations within Michael Giacchino's music score, my enjoyment of which increased exponentially over the course of the several months of its release. I can't stress enough how much I like his end credits suite, which is a perfect encapsulation of the film's central thematic material with neat variations (some of the spectacular variation on Spock's theme are, unfortunately, cut from the scroll in the film for time; at least it's a clean edit). I didn't respond strongly to my first listening of the score, but I found the the title music to be quite engaging, and encouraged me to give the score a second spin right away, and I found that I enjoyed it much more after having heard the themes in their "pure" form in the credit suite. In fact, by the time I saw the film I had already decided that "Enterprising Young Men" alone was deserving of a place in the pantheon of great Trek music.
Unfortunately, this also has me chomping at the bit for the second volume which Giacchino had mentioned as a possibility. The album has a lot of the best music from the film, but there are also quite a few wonderful moments that I would love to have:
Captain Robau's journey to the Narada, a rather active cue with a "mission in progress" aspect to it.
Spock and Amanda; I happen to love Giacchino's use of the erhu for Spock, it has such an intimate but reserved sound. While it doesn't sound like anything previously associated with the character, it is up there with Gerald Fried's bass guitar theme from "Amok Time" and James Horner's ethereal treatment for Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock as an excellent reflection of the character.
The launch of the shuttle for new Starfleet recruits, which featured a variation on Alexander Courage's original series theme. This cue was apparently originally written as the main title cue before it was replaced with an edit of "Enterprising Young Men."
The cue for the sequence in which the cadets get their assignments and ship out. There is some playful music for the portions with Kirk and Bones and a bouncy version of Spock's theme, and concludes with a very vague iteration of the Courage fanfare.
Captain Pike's instructions to Kirk, Spock and Sulu and the ensuing jump sequence, both of which feature some very Goldsmithian muscular action riffs.
Spock's rescue mission to the Katric Ark with those eerie choral passages.
The introduction of Spock Prime and his farewell to Kirk, both of which feature very nice readings of Spock's theme on the erhu. I love that sound, and have no idea why it is mixed out of "That New Car Smell" in the movie.
The Enterprise arrives at Titan with what seems to be Giacchino's motif for Starfleet authoritatively announcing that the backstory is over and that you're watching Star Trek again.
The score sounds fantastic on the Blu-ray's Dolby TrueHD track. Um… a little too good, in a way. The very discrete sound mix of the music in the film has a much more pleasing stereo image than the Varèse Sarabande CD, which has a rather crushed soundfield. This seems to be favored by engineer Dan Wallin but I find rather unsatisfying.
The featurette about the music that appears on disc two of the Blu-ray (and, I assume, the DVD) devotes the correct amount of time on Giacchino's use of Courage's theme. The piece, however, is only about a minute and a half longer than that, and thus Giacchino's comments about his own score are unfortunately brief, which is a shame because I would really have liked to know more about how he developed his different themes.