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Star Trek Movie Review

May 8, 2009

(xposted to TIMC)

For better or worse, J.J. Abrams retooling/reboot/re-whatever of the seminal science fiction series revisited the Star Trek origins in a way that the writers of the various incarnations of Trek would have if pressed for time; some pseudo-scientific accident in the cosmos caused one of the characters to go back in time and thus altered history. That is about as Trek as you can get.

The plot, what there is of it, is a throw away version of one of the many Trek time travel episodes, and really irrelevant; there’s no great themes, no commentary on our day, just a hackneyed revenge story. What matters to Abrams is character, or the characters he has reinvented for the new decade.

Kirk is XXXtreme Kirk, a wild child rendered less responsible and serious by an unfortunate accident that killed his father at the time of Kirk’s birth. While Abrams would have us believe not having a father figure make Kirk wild out, he doesn’t explain how he retains the intelligence and leadership qualities Trek fans are familiar with. As portrayed by Chris Pine, Kirk 2.0 is a version of one of the young studs Chris Evans has made a career of. He’s all quips and bluster and fists, with little depth. Maybe Evans would have made a believer of me.

Zachary Quinto’s Spock is more in touch with his human side – eventually – thanks to history’s change causing his mother’s untimely death. As Leonard Nimoy (also present in the film as the spark that causes the events to unfold) has inhabited and defined the portrayal not only of Spock but of all Vulcans in the Trek universe, Quinto’s prissy take on Spock’s logic is oft putting. The thing about Spock that annoyed Dr. McCoy (played excellent comic timing by Robert Urich doppelganger Karl Urban ) so much was his absolute confidence in his intellect and his conclusions. I always got the feeling that Quinto’s Spock was . . . scared. Maybe that was Quinto’s intentional wrinkle, but I doubt it.

The other character to receive an upgrade is Zoe Saldana’s Uhura. She has more to do in the film in the first act than Nichelle Nichols had to do in an entire season. She’s also a bit of a mother figure to the boyish Kirk and Spock, a very serious career officer who let’s emotion cloud her judgment. Oh yeah, she’s also having an affair with Spock. Were it not for the joy Simon Pegg has in turning the gruff engineer Montgomery Scott into a droll, wise-cracking physics prodigy, Saldana would walk away with the film.

Okay, so Abrams is not completely consumed with character study; he’s as eager to fill seats as he is to reintroduce the Star Trek universe to a film going audience and to that end stuffs the film with well executed action set pieces; young Kirk being pursued cops after he stole a car, first officer Kirk being pursued by a hideous alien giant, and the inevitable starship battles. Aside from the Star Trek brand, the action scenes are the film’s selling point and its biggest success.

Fans of classic Trek can be assured they haven’t been forgotten; there are too many winks and nods to the old TV show that gives the movie a cornball tone at times. They’ll mostly go over the heads of the uninitiated, the Trekkies will guffaw uproariously, but Trekkers may find them distracting.

Though the film rides on an trifling rehash of old Star Trek tropes minus the substance and intellectualism (some may say pretentiousness), Abrams did well to make the film a fun piece of summer fluff, entertaining and visually arresting enough that you suffer if you wait for the DVD.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sybil permalink
    May 9, 2009 9:59 am

    Caution: Spoiler Alert!

    I did like the campy feel that was reminiscent of the original series. And who doesn’t want to hear Bones say, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor not a ________!” And the special effects were super-cool (watch them jump to warp speed). But, as a fan of the franchise, I am very disturbed by the whole time line issue.
    How can you change the entire time line and not fix it in the end? We know that Vulcan was never destroyed. We know that Spock’s mother died much later in his life. Old Spock even states in the movie that Kirk’s father was a part of Kirk’s life. C’mon! The writers couldn’t put things back the way they were supposed to be? It still could have been a movie for non-Trekkies while appeasing those of us who find the whole thing, well, illogical.
    And, it was very bizarre that the bridge of the Enterprise was more technologically advanced than the Enterprise of The Next Generation. They should have used a more primitive set for that.
    All in all it was fun, but as a Trekkie or Trekker you really have to set aside some of your knowledge and common sense to enjoy this movie.

    • Kieran permalink
      May 11, 2009 12:17 pm

      I think it was intentionally left unravelled so they could reinvent the classic series.

  2. starfleet09 permalink
    May 9, 2009 1:55 pm

    That movie was great, i even went to get a background for my twitter page, lol. The special effects was finally modern day and true trekkie fans will love it. Be easy, and the free backgrounds for the star trek movie is at http://tweetcustom for tweeps, lol.

  3. May 23, 2009 4:20 pm

    Сенкс. Интересно, и вообще полезный у Вас блог

  4. gordon permalink
    March 4, 2010 10:26 am

    ever seen Spock speak Japanese? its funny
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/star-trek-in-japanese/

  5. November 3, 2010 1:58 pm

    i always look for a good movie review first before watching new movies *

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