By now, my love and respect for actor John Cho should be fairly well-known. In fact, he was my main reason for seeing Star Trek (2009). Aside for Zachary Quinto, I felt the rest of the cast left much to be desired, as they were supposed to be taking over iconic roles.
And I did enjoy Cho's performance; however, once the movie began, certain...problems began to surface.
But we'll get to those in a moment.
1) Unlike James Kirk, Sulu doesn't start out in the film as a cadet. He's already a pilot, and in the film he's chosen to helm the flagship when its pilot calls in sick (yes, in the 24th Century, people still call in sick, most likely faking. How awesome is that?).
2) Sulu introduces himself with his full name, so we're not left wondering whether or not it's still Hikaru or what.
3) We learn that Sulu likes fencing, a nod at his predecessor's passion. However, this Sulu and that Sulu have vastly different ideas on what "fencing" actually entails.
4) Sulu is hot. Sulu is smoking. Choosing a former model with a dangerous set of lips, a beautiful voice, and devious smile was an excellent decision. There's nothing awkward or clunky or annoying about him.
5) In addition to being the bad-ass pilot who gets to come in shooting, Sulu gets an awesome fight scene in which he gets to own some Romulans while Kirk is basically getting smacked around.
1) Why did Sulu have to share his fight scene with, well...anyone? And why did it have to conveniently end with Kirk sorta kinda saving Sulu? Wasn't Sulu's ability to whoop ass the whole point of the scene? Speaking of....
2) Sulu's screen time is painfully and patently limited. Let's not get it twisted; John Cho was my main reason for going to see Star Trek. Considering who was cast as Kirk and Uhura, I was initially going to wait for this film on DVD. But then I learned that the great John Cho - and he is great, kids - was playing Hikaru Sulu, and I just had to go.
3) Limited screen time means limited knowledge and limited opportunities. We don't get to learn much about Sulu in this film, and we don't get to see him do much. We don't get see him pick up girls in this film, or fight in a bar, or anything really. How can you cast John-friggin'-Cho in your movie and not tell your audience all about him?
I'm sorry...I didn't realize we were still in the 1960s. I mean, I keep hearing how "things have changed" and how "those days are over" and that POC shouldn't be so critical of Hollywood. Normally, I'd say "nice try" on a character study like this, but really, there was no "trying" at all. It's almost like the writers would've preferred to not really have to bother with Sulu, as though he were just some extra character with whom they had to figure out what to do, and hastily so we could hurry back to The James T. Kirk Show.