May 08, 2009
Review - " Star Trek " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by J.J. Abrams.
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton
Yelchin, and Simon Pegg.
The plainly titled Star Trek is the eleventh film that has spun from the much
loved science-fiction television series franchise. This new film depicts the origins
of the original crew of the starship USS Enterprise who featured in the original
1966-1969 series and starred in the first 6 films. Resurrecting these characters
was a risky venture as the original Star Trek series does come with the baggage
of its questionable colonist politics, very questionable gender politics and an
aesthetic that seems very kitsch by today’s standards. The good news is that
this new film manages to keep a slightly retro look, which is more cool than
camp, while combining it with an edgier visual style. The better news is that this
new film has enough nods to the original series and films to keep the casual
fans happy without compromising the degree in which non-fans will be able
to enjoy it. There also seems to be a number of in-jokes and references to
really delight the hardcore fans. Finally, the best news of all is that this new film
is a wonderfully entertaining blend of melodrama, comedy, action and science
Casting for these now iconic characters could not have been done better. As the young Kirk, Chris Pine (Bottle Shock,
Smokin’ Aces) has the right combination of charisma, arrogance, righteousness, sleaze and rebelliousness to make Kirk
such a likeable yet flawed hero. Zachary Quinto (from the television series Heroes) is likewise ideal as the studious yet
conflicted Spock. Other core characters are introduced gradually throughout the film. They are all given narrative
importance, are significantly involved in the action and make a wonderful ensemble. Karl Urban was a standout as Bones,
making every line zing. Urban effectively captured the look and mannerisms of the eternal-pessimist Dr. Leonard “Bones”
McCoy we've come to know and love. Simon Pegg makes the most of his brief screen time as uber-engineer Scotty. The
one character I feel they screwed up was Pavol Chekov. This is no fault of Anton Yelchin who perfromed the part admirably.
No, the fault lies with the screenwriters. In an effort to give him something to do the writers turned him into a parody of
Wesley Crusher instead of the ever proud russian Davey Jones he was always meant to be. Yet the characters are more
than the sum of their quirks. This "Star Trek" takes what we already know of them, then lets them add shadings that should,
I'd guess, wear well in the sequels yet to come.
Basically, the film’s Romulan villains and one of the show’s original characters have travelled back in time to significantly
change the course of events. The rebooted version is essentially created by the intervention of characters from the original
series. This effectively uses the time travel narrative to set up an alternative universe where this new version of Star Trek
can exist without compromising the existing version that the show’s very loyal fans would be horrified to see messed with.
Star Trek is smart and fun
entertainment. While it
initially seems in danger of
being overly reliant on CGIs
the audience are quickly
sutured into the appealing
Star Trek universe.
Concepts such as the
are used creatively and
intelligently. There is a lot
of humour in the film
especially once Simon
Pegg (Shaun of the Dead,
Hot Fuzz) finally shows up
to steal every scene as Scotty. The action sequences are gripping with Sulu (John Cho from the Harold & Kumar
films) and Kirk’s spectacular base jump and then fight sequence on an intergalactic drill head being a highlight. You really
do get a sense of Star Trek’s almost mythic status in contemporary culture from this film and it’s hard not to get a bit of a
shiver down the spine when the show’s original music begins playing during the closing credits. Far from feeling like a
rehash of a tired old formula, Star Trek boldly goes into its next incarnation for a modern audience.
As it ever was, the focus is on the Kirk/Spock dynamic, which is where the turning-back-the-clock element really pays off.
There’s a sharper edge to the relationship here, as the hotheaded man of action and the cool, logical half-alien size each
other up as both rivals and potential allies. Quinto has inherited Nimoy’s knack for infusing his matter-of-fact
pronouncements with almost subliminal dry wit, and while there’s really no replacing Shatner, Pine is surprisingly adept at
evoking the bravado and bluster of Kirk without devolving into parody. He fills Kirk’s space boots with a brashness that
easily matches the size of el capitan’s ego. You simply cannot get enough of him, whether he’s skydiving through space,
striking down raucous Romulans or locking lips with Zoe Saldana’s hot-as-the-sun Uhura.As unlikely as it once seemed, it
looks like the ol’ Enterprise has a few more light-years left in it after all. When a familiar face tells young Kirk: "I have been
and always shall be your friend." You may even find yourself getting a little choked up.
Star Trek fans will love it. Everyone else will mearly think it's a great action scifi flick.