Please Stand By (2017)
You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.
Here’s a movie that sounded like it could be a fun romp based on it’s description. Partially painted in favor not from a love of things Star Trek, but from the many things orbiting around the series that still end up being very entertaining watches lending it an added credibility towards favorable levels of enjoyment. It’s begging to be dramatic, but promises to not overstay itself, all while being guided by a premise that struck me interesting in the form of a little synopsis. Ready your readers or get interested, either way Please Stand By.
I’ll be up front - I’ve watched every Star Trek movie at this point. It’s not some undying fandom sort of thing - if you start spitting Klingon at me you might as well be speaking French, because both are Greek to me. That’s to say that I don’t speak it, in case there’s some confusion there. Regardless, I bring this up because there is something to the franchise be it the shows that I’ve barely watched at all or the movies that I have - the thing just reeks of community. It brings people together, and it gives plenty of reasons why a person could see the draw in that regard - space, mysteries, science fiction, a bright and shinning future with evil robo-creatures that want everyone to be them. All of that is a sideline however, as the real point of this movie isn’t Trek proper, but instead more on the impact of the show as such and to some extent community. It isn’t the first movie that was Trek themed but actually had nothing involved with Trek that I’ve watched, and I doubt this will be the last- that said, although some of the words being thrown around might confuse some, it’s no more likely to leave anyone in the dust then how it handles other subject matter, and it actually takes a few moments to even service pointing out the importance of some elements of the show directly by character interactions.
The main star here of course is our lead, an Autistic lady who wants to enter a contest for an episode script of Trek. Reasons aside, this is the Frodo’s quest of this movie - the script her One Ring, Paramount Pictures building 1500 her Mordor. For the viewer, that is the quest presented even if the reasoning behind it is deeper or sideways. The other actors do a pretty fine job as well, and everyone really comes off as pretty believable outside of perhaps a few of the side-shots that service as hindrances along the way. It’s not that you don’t believe those kind of people are around, so much as sometimes they feel that they are perhaps a little built up or exaggerated. The dog, well, just services as being cute the the entire time he’s in - I wouldn’t really call it acting for the most part, but there are a few scenes where the interactions between the main and dog play out quite well so I wouldn’t blame you for saying the dog can act more than just cute.
The movie also gives plenty of time for any of it’s little side adventures to bake as well. It sets up this seemingly throw away plot hook between the caretaker and her son, only to end up using the son as a way of bringing the caretaker more in tune with the script - which then also hooks in a method to show how something like that can really help bond people together, and also why such a broad appeal could be found to it. The sister character ends up going on her own little slight adventure, learning that perhaps just shoving away isn’t the best way of dealing with your own worries or problems or insecurities, but also feels perhaps the most foreseeable and maybe less impressive then the others despite her doing a good job acting still. And of course, through all of that is our main character, championing through her own triggers and worries and panic to deliver that script despite what the universe might tell her or the end result.
So the actors are doing a good job - that’s important, what with that dramatic tensions and the likes about. Better than that, the interactions between characters is good and helps bring everything that nice polished feel. Outfits unfortunately fall into that “designer did a great job setting up that modern apparel” but you don’t appreciate it because it’s so similar to just everyday clothes you’d see anyways. That being said, they did bring in some flair that came in handy to the plot and also to the general quirks of our main, such as having her little notebook, or the music player to help deal with loud noises or calm her down. The dog gets a Trek-fashioned sweater, so that’s adorable. Beyond those convincing outfits regardless of if they may be plain to the eye, there are a few scenes that are supposed to be the mind-realm or otherwise fantasy about how the scripted episode would play out, with one or two characters in spacesuits walking around. They might not be setting off any trademark alarms, but they do add a nice bit of something else to the movie, and are put together pretty well for what really amounts to one scene worth of shooting to be spread about the movie.
The music is largely calming throughout, and for the most part it fits that same old role of helping set up potential emotions you should be feeling during the scene. Sound is also used as a normal thing like you would generally find in a movie - background cars and people and the likes - but at least one scene takes the time to actually emphasize the sounds of all these noisy things combining in one area and how our main needs to trooper on through. It help’s contrast an earlier scene where she ends up in a full blown tantrum or perhaps panic attack, and just adds to that extra layer of autism awareness that you don’t generally get in movies, given that you don’t generally see it that much in movies. One might remember me making similar comments about when I watched The Predator with some of the elements in that - and it’s nice to point it out and see movies using it not as just some detriment or wacky character quirk, but actually putting it into the movie and having it play a roll without just having a character plop out the other side as though “look mom, I’m cured!”
I do feel it’s perhaps quite blunt when the caretaker ends up having it explained to her why someone would like Trek that much. I mean narratively it works, believably it works, but for the person that already knows it it seems a bit cheesy perhaps. I mean, this is really what I’ve come to at this point - I really can’t find a whole lot that stinks about this movie, it’s just a fine movie. I wasn’t really paying attention enough to things like camera angles or shot compositions while I was watching it, although I did note to myself that the camera guy managed to catch that moment when a baby pretty much straight passes out as soon as it’s head is on someones shoulder. It has a lot of clever moments to it - sneaky actions that for what’s on screen make perfect sense. You could probably find holes here and there in some less intelligent moments, or likewise have a few complaints, but largely there isn’t much to be had unless you are trying to pick it apart. She has a few whispered lines that I failed to make out because it was just too quiet, but past that the balance of audio is good. The movie looks good. The actors do good.
So maybe Trek isn’t your thing, and even the simple positioning of the movie having even an iota to do with it turns you off. Maybe you don’t like dramas or some actor you read on the back - there’s a million reasons why a person wouldn’t want to watch a movie. Failing any of those very specific, very strange sorts of reasons though, I feel most people could watch this and come out feeling like they didn’t misspend their time. Perhaps it’s not a masterpiece, but it plays it level and presents it likewise. Everything doesn’t go right, everything doesn’t go wrong - it’s believable with a hint of the fantastic. It has a message of hope and perseverance, and perhaps that’s actually the most Star Trek thing about this movie. Through it all though, I’m only left to wonder about one thing - what happened to the rest of the bus of old people though?