The new Star Trek movie pretty much rocks, in a ‘mindlessly entertaining action romp’ sort of way. It looks great, rattles along nicely, and the humour gracefully avoids the Grating Curse of Jar-Jar Binks. Zachary Quinto‘s Spock is excellent – probably good enough for him to avoid being Sylar for the rest of his career – and the moment when Chris Pine‘s Kirk ‘Shats up’ is priceless. Draw a discrete veil over the astrophysics and the instantly-forgettable score, and it’s all good.
Well, mostly. I’ve one snark, and one more significant worry. The latter I’ll save for another post, but the snark is this:
I get that Abrams is trying to suggest action off-shot with all the lens flare, and I rather like the effect. In places the live-action look is reminiscent of Alwin Kuchler’s gorgeous cinematography on Sunshine, only with a white rather than black background to everything.
The CGI effect matches the style rather well, too – there’s some magnificent colouring work in the picture, and my, how CGI lens flare has progressed since the early days of the Video Toaster. But in All-New Trek the graphics folks have a new toy, and just like the early flare effects, they’ve seriously over-used it.
They’re simulating dirt on the lens.
Along with the flare, in the darker corners of the frames, there are weird nebulous diffuse/defocussed blobs, which to my eye looked like the effect you get from a dirty lens. Once I’d noticed them I couldn’t take me eyes off them – they’re damn everywhere in the CGI shots, and the result is distractingly ghastly. Space Dust used to pop on my tongue, not in my eye.
It’s doubtless a cute effect in moderation, but it’s taken way way way too far here. Any real camera op with lenses that dirty would be removed from the set. Come on, folks: keep your glass clean. Even if it’s virtual.