12
May
09

Movie Review: Star Trek

star_trek_xi

 

Rebooting… the Final Frontier

Stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg. Directed by J.J. Abrams

This ain’t your daddy’s “Star Trek.”

“Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams was given a somewhat unenviable task: resurrect “Star Trek” for the “next generation” of moviegoers. And he did just that. Straddling a line between “trekkies” and casual scifi film enthusiasts, “Star Trek” has gone hyper-frenetic and action-packed. It is as much “Star Trek” as it is a Hollywood blockbuster and for this franchise, that’s a good thing.

“Star Trek” has its followers rooted in a world set forth by ten movies, six TV series, books, etc. Those who know “Trek” KNOW “Trek.” And there’s the social messages: pay attention to the environment (“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”), watch for political conspiracies (“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”), technology becomes God (“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), keep your enemies closer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and Shatner can’t direct (“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”) The “Next Generation” cast did what they could (four movies) but didn’t have the same gravitas as the original series. With Picard and Co. bowing out after “Nemesis,” the big question was: what happens now?

The story rests on a premise that could itself be a fan fiction novel: what if a Romulan named Nero (played by Eric Bana) watched the planet Romulus become a black hole and upon revenging said event travels back in time 129 years? And in doing so George Kirk, father of future captain James T. Kirk, gives his life so his son has a future and thus creates an alternate reality? That’s the premise going on.

And that’s how Abrams plays it safe; instead of altering the actual past of characters beloved by many, you subvert them by changing/tweaking their pasts for your own purposes and through a big “what if” and go from there. Abrams boldly went there and it pays off, but not without a whiff of being “highly illogical.”

I’m going to interject for a moment: I usually hate it when “Star Trek” decides to lean on time travel to get its story across. Yes, I enjoyed “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And I know everyone loved Kirk and the Gang going back in time to save the whales in “Star Trek IV,” but the entire franchise has done time travel to death. Sometimes I wonder if there just aren’t enough alien races for the Federation to start shit with.

Back to the story. Kirk grows up to be rebellious as shown in the scene where he drives his step-dad’s Corvette off a cliff. Years later he gets in a bar fight with some Starfleet Cadets and is saved by Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood). Pike recognizes Kirk’s potential and challenges him to join Starfleet Academy which he accepts. On the shuttle trip he meets Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), a man joining Starfleet only because his wife took everything he owned except his “bones.”

Meanwhile on the planet Vulcan there’s a different rebel with cause: Spock (Quinto). Born to a Vulcan father and human mother, Spock is considered a liability due to his half-breed nature. Upon acceptance into the Vulcan Academy he instead chooses Starfleet and upsets the council elders. While at Starfleet he becomes a mentor to Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and develops an attachment to her.

When Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru simulation and fails the second time, he reprograms it and wins. This causes friction between him and its programmer Commander Spock and he quickly finds himself restricted from duty. McCoy, taking some pity, stows Kirk away on the Enterprise as its maiden voyage  is to answer a distress call (the objective of EVERY “Star Trek” movie) from the planet Vulcan. Once there the seven other starships arrived before them are being systematically destroyed by Nero who is planning on creating a black hole using Vulcan. Nero takes Pike hostage and the Enterprise’s attempt to save Vulcan has its complications, leaving Spock and Kirk to fight over command and what should be done to save Earth and the rest of the Federation.

I may have already told you too much.

That’s the crux of this movie. Sure, Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock (again, the time traveling stuff) and we get to see how Scotty got recruited by the Enterprise. This movie is as much about it’s “what if” premise as it is an “origins” movie, and that’s not entirely bad. Karl Urban is great as McCoy, Pegg offers an interesting Scotty, Saldana is a hotter Uhura, Quinto is a formidable Spock, Cho gives Sulu more than sitting at the helm and Pine is the best Kirk we got. As far as how close to Chris Pine plays Shatner’s “Captain Kirk,” I think he gives him a degree of 21st century impulsiveness mixed with action and thought. He doesn’t have Shatner’s stilted dialog however he does pick up its cadence on occasion.

The main objective Abrams seems to display with “Star Trek” is for it not to be exclusive to its environment or fanbase. This movie is more “mainstream” than the other “Treks” and as I’ve said before that’s not a bad thing. And yes being a product from the guy who created “Lost” means that for the most part you gotta let this puppy play out; don’t try understanding it from fear that it will all unravel and you’ll walk out of the theatre with a massive headache.

Why should you watch it? First, to cure your curiosity. If that doesn’t suit you reason #2: the special effects. This is stuff-blowin’-up, fist-punching, breathtaking action-adventure at its best. Even if you hate the storyline it’s worth the effects alone. Lastly, it’s one of the best blockbusters in a while. 2008’s “Iron Man” was the popcorn blockbuster everyone was waiting for and this year that crown goes to “Star Trek.”

Let me also give credit to the music. Michael Giacchino, who also did the music for “Alias” and “Lost,” does a great job of mixing cinematic orchestration with music that sounds like it came straight from the 60’s series. I was really impressed with that.

Great effects, action sequences, and overall fun. It may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it’s the greatest “Star Trek” movie ever made.

My grade: B+

 

The Trailer:

And for some fun, check out this piece from The Onion:

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4 Responses to “Movie Review: Star Trek”


  1. 1 Rom
    May 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    loved the film must watch for everyone

    Like

  2. 2 S. David Brown
    May 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Solid review. I can’t wait to see it this weekend. – ODB

    Like

  3. May 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I might event venture out an “A” grade. Best movie I’ve seen since Watchmen, and that had it’s failings too. Granted I liked Iron Man but just not as much as Trek. Anyways, good review, cheers!

    Like

  4. 4 CK McDaniel
    May 17, 2009 at 1:22 am

    We’re going to see it tomorrow! I can hardly wait!

    Like


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