Star Trek Review

Posted: May 16, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Barrage of the Blockbusters, moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: May 8th, 2009

Running Time: 2 hours and 7 minutes

Written by: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Eric Bana

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Which side do I ally myself with in the middle of these unofficial Star wars? Well, I haven’t spent much, if any time, with Jedis and Sith Lords for almost a decade now and the extent of my exposure with the Star Trek brand extends only to these two recent J.J. Abrams reboots. So, as you can imagine, this 2009 reboot was up my alley. But perhaps my limited experience is a good thing, because that means I am unencumbered with years of knowledge and nostalgia whenever I watch them, and can accordingly enjoy them for precisely what they are: highly entertaining action-adventures with a welcome amount of heart. I don’t care if I alienate legions of Trek fans when I say that, either, but it’s time I formally speak my mind about this movie — especially seeing as how I never got around to doing so in 2009, anyway. In a way, then, this review has been five years coming.

If there’s anything about this movie that can make me see fans’ frustration with this reboot, it’s the plot. When the movie opens, it’s the year (or … star date) 2233, and the Federation starship USS Kelvin is investigating what appears to be a lightning storm. But from the “storm” emerges Narada, an imposing Romulan ship captained by the equally intimidating Nero (Eric Bana). Nero is searching for “Ambassador Spock”, but when his questioning yields no results, he decimates the Kelvin — but not before first officer George Kirk manages to get his wife and literal newborn son, James T. Kirk, to safety. Years later, Kirk (Chris Pine) has grown to be a reckless farmboy always up for a challenge. And he gets just that when Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), a former friend and colleague of Kirk’s father, crosses paths with him and dares him to do better than Daddy. Kirk promptly enlists in Star Fleet, where his arrogance seems to magnify tenfold. Along the way, he makes friends with Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), annoys Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and makes kinda-enemies with Spock (Zachary Quinto). Everyone must soon put aside their differences, however, when Nero comes back onto the scene, intent on destroying the Federation, with a particular emphasis on Spock.

This film outright redoes the Star Trek canon by having Nero travel through a black hole and in effect create a new timeline by destroying the Kelvin in the opening sequence (boy, between this and Fringe, Abrams sure loves his alternate timelines). And like I said, I can see why longtime Star Trek fans would take offense to that. However, I’m reviewing this film as a relative Star Trek novice, and as such, I have to say that this is a very exciting movie. I don’t care if it does away with years of history I’ve never seen. I don’t care if this is more action-driven than the more thoughtful and explorative show. I’m not going to get worked up about a scene featuring puffed-up hands for comedic effect that lasts all of maybe 2 minutes out of 127. All I care about here is the fact that Abrams and company did make a really good movie.

Starting with the cast, these incarnations of the characters make for really compelling and likable people to watch. There’s real chemistry between all of them, which makes all the juicy scenes in the film that much more juicier. Chris Pine is excellent as Kirk, embodying the arrogance and bravado of the character with real skill and ease — the kind of skill and ease inherent with the stronger sort of leading actors in these kinds of truly adventurous action films. Pine proves here that he has what it takes as a leading man, and he’s been able to maintain that image pretty well since. Pine successfully makes us care for Kirk as he’s put through numerous trials and tribulations, and we want to see him succeed as a result. Around him, supporting actors Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho and Eric Bana among others all do their roles justice and form a more than solid ensemble. Then there’s Zachary Quinto as Spock, a character forced to continually struggle with his devotion both to his Vulcan side and his human side due to his parentage, and Quinto’s performance is really quite nuanced in how he expresses that internal conflict. It also helps serve to emphasize just how much humanity J.J. Abrams is able to fit into this movie.

And I think, ultimately, that humanity is really the best thing about Star Trek, and what makes it work so well. Basically, it feels as if everyone involved has their hearts in it, which lends the film a very likable personality that permeates every scene. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman clearly want to make sure that these are people going on this adventure/mission, instead of just action archetypes, which they succeed in. For Kirk and Spock especially, we really feel the journeys each of these men go on throughout the course of the film, and seeing their relationship begin to form into what every Trek and non-Trek fan knows it as is particularly interesting to see play out. Not only that, but the creative team also develops a central plot which is satisfyingly fast-paced and exciting, sporting action scenes that don’t feel like time-wasters.

Between both of his Star Trek movies and Mission: Impossible 3, J.J. Abrams has proven himself a more than capable action director. His action sequences have an appropriately frantic and intense feel, and the ones in Star Trek are no exception. They make use of cool sci-fi gizmos effectively and sport everything from fistfights, freefalls, shoot-outs, ship combat and even a brief swordfight — all of which is cool stuff. Now, I know how much others have complained (to no end, actually) about Abrams’ use of lens flare, but personally, it doesn’t bother me that much. What does matter is that the man knows how to direct a big-budget film. Oh, and he can certainly get good scores out of Michael Giacchino as well.

I’m well aware that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek can divide most down the middle, but I’m definitely a fan of it. The film has strong characters, a well-defined tone, heartfelt storytelling and really good action scenes. Given the level of skill on display here and in Star Trek Into Darkness, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how Abrams handles the new Star Wars. Even without him, though, this franchise will most assuredly live long and prosper. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

***1/2 /****

NEXT WEEK: He said he’d be back.  He sure wasn’t lyin’!

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Still a great movie all of these years later. Good review.

  2. I love, love, love this movie. ;) It’s five years later, but I’m still raving about it. Great characters, great reboot.

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