Beam Me Up, Scotty! Star Trek Fans Revel In Music With The L.A. Philharmonic At Hollywood Bowl REVIEW: Star Trek @ Hollywood Bowl 7/8/16 & 7/9/16
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How cool is JJ Abrams? Seriously. Maybe in real life he’s a total dick. I don’t know. But as a filmmaker? Dude is like Miles Davis meets Fonzie meets Wooderson. Because his movies aren’t about him or his actors, they’re 100% about the audience. To the extent his ego is involved in his filmmaking, it’s not reliant upon his vision of what may or may not be the highest artistic expression within the medium. Rather his ego leans on the pure stoke that he’s able to elicit from the people in the seats. Nowhere could this have been more apparent than at the screening of Star Trek at the Hollywood Bowl. Under the summer stars with the LA Phil playing the live score, JJ’s reboot of the Star Trek franchise was greeted by a full house of exuberant nerds. So many nerds. All of us. All cheering, shouting, laughing. A positive feedback loop of Trekkie superdork energy that, like a black hole, grew larger and larger as it fed upon itself.
See, this is the genius of a screening at the Bowl. The movies are always a couple years if not several decades past their release date. So who’s gonna show up that doesn’t already know and love the film? Not a lot. On this particular evening, you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone who was encountering the film for the first time. Instead we were all remembering it. Remembering the goodness of the first time(s) and perhaps understanding why JJ was able to strike such a deep chord with the Trekkie nation. The formula is simple really: be unabashedly self-referential, fill the dialogue with one-liners and witty banter, be shameless and boldly unapologetic as you appeal to the powerful nostalgia that rests at the heart of all Star Trek fans. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Just shine the hubcaps and make it spin faster. Be playful. Have fun. None of this Voyager, Next Gen, or Deep Space 9 crap. Cast a squad of actors that looks and sounds just like Shatner, Nimoy, Takei and the gang. Go easy on the philosophical and ethical pondering. Go heavy on the schmaltz. Oh – and set up a space time continuum conundrum that validates any deviation from the Star Trek canon as consistent with an alternate universe while allowing Leonard Nimoy to show up on screen and be the awesome that he is.
The real gem of course (aside from the beer and bathroom break intermission) was the accompaniment of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. So precise, so subtle, so perfectly mic’d and amplified. You almost forget they’re there and then when you do notice the full orchestra of musicians and singers in the middle of the stage right in front of you, you realize how omnipresent they are. But the integration of digital sound and live music is perfectly seamless. You have to give big ups to the Bowl for technical integration and then double the ups to the musicians and conductor for the impeccable execution. Every fight, every battle scene, every blue steel stare into the great unknown we call space. So intense! And at the end when they played the outro that we’ve all been humming along to since we were kids, you could feel the goosebumps on your arms.
A beautiful night. A beautiful tribute to Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy. A beautiful celebration of our collective nerditude.