The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Summer Movie Posse on 'Star Trek': Bring it on!

May 5, 2009 |  6:23 pm


This is the time of year when, like a character from a bad sci-fi movie, I leap into the brains of a bunch of L.A. teenagers, eager to hear what they think about the upcoming onslaught of summer movies.

I call them my Summer Movie Posse. We watch the trailers from a dozen or so films, then I take notes as the kids pick them apart, offering acerbic, insightful and sometimes surprising thoughts on what they liked and what they loathed. It's not exactly a scientific form of market research, but it's far more revealing than hearing what a bunch of jaded adults might have to say about "Star Trek" or "Land of the Lost." 

When they're done, the Posse grades each film on a 1-to-10 scale (10 being best). They occasionally fall in love with an oddball film -- one of the 2007 Posse's favorites was "Rescue Dawn," which disappeared without a trace -- but I'd happily put the Posse's picks up against any Entertainment Weekly summer movie box-office prediction.

The Top 5 picks from last year's Posse were: "Pineapple Express," "The Dark Knight," "Hancock," "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" -- all five were big hits.

Their Bottom 5 films included "Love Guru" and "Speed Racer," so I'd say they were pretty in touch with the summer movie zeitgeist.

This year's Posse was recruited by Molly Philbin, a 15-year-old student at Santa Monica High. Of the six kids, ranging in age from 15 to 18, five go to Santa Monica High and one attends University High. They all go to movies frequently, especially in the summer. Like all kids, they have strong opinions, especially when it comes to actors.

Who do they like the most of all? Johnny Depp, who is considered unimpeachably cool, no matter what movie he's in. Among comics, they like Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Adam Sandler, Justin Long and Ben Stiller. They are big fans of Denzel Washington, whom they view as a class act. They're less enamored of -- or have grave reservations about -- Christian Bale, Will Ferrell, Shia LaBeouf and Alison Lohman. Some actors just aren't really on their radar screen. When they watched the trailer for "The Ugly Truth," which stars Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl, no one could identify either actor by name.

So what movies did they like? Over the next few days, you can hear what they had to say, in their own words, about the summer movies. First up is "Star Trek," since it debuts this weekend. To hear what they had to say, keep reading.

Molly Philbin, 15: "I'm a 'Star Trek' fan, so I'm eager to see what the movie is really like. But I wasn't in love with the trailer. It really didn't show very much of a plot or any references to any 'Star Trek' episodes. It seems like it's just about a guy taking his father's position. I wish it told me more."

Jasmine Jafari, 15: "What I really liked was the modern introduction of an old-school story. It felt unexpected, but in a good way. The only thing that really reminded me of the old 'Trek' were the uniforms. I agree with Molly -- I wish there had been a little more plot so we'd know what the story was about. But I'm not complaining. I love 'Star Trek.' "

Ben Sassoon, 17: "They really seem to want us to think this is a big epic story, though I'm not sure they convinced me. It's full of action and it has all this grand visual stuff, but it felt forced, like they had to put too much effort into it."

Posse score: (out of a possible 60): 46.

Coming soon: The Posse's take on "Terminator: Salvation."

In the meantime, here's the "Star Trek" trailer:


Photo of, from left, Alton Yelchin, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho and Zoe Saldana in "Star Trek" from Paramount/ILM