Sunday, May 10, 2009


Two things become very clear at the end of the new Star Trek.
1. It kicks major ass
2. It may sit wrong with the Star Trek faithful.

The reasons for the rumble in the Trekkie jungle are entirely too spoiler rich to give away in my review but I will say this, JJ Abrams has achieved his goal of breathing new life into Star Trek in spades. This new take on Star Trek masterfully combines all of the old Trek folklore with new ideas and a much more badass style. Don’t worry creator Gene Roddenberry’s idealized society is still the corner stone of the new Star Trek as is the idea that the greatest force for good and evil are the emotions we all share, Earth bound or not.

Plot wise the new Star Trek sticks to the formula that has carried the series and its offshoots through the last forty-two years. A really bad baddie (Eric Bana’s Romulan captain) threatens the safety of the Federation and it’s up to Starfleet to protect us all. From there Abrams and his writers weave a dense story that shows how the original Enterprise crew met and the first adventure they took part in.

The story within the plot is really centered on the friendship of a young James T. Kirk and his Vulcan counterpart Spock. The two aren’t all buddy-buddy here; in fact they can’t stand each other. Kirk coming from the shoot first and ask questions later ideal and Spock a much more cold and logical standpoint. Abrams does a great job of showing how these two would be at each other’s throats without losing sight of how much they need each other to survive. Outside of the Spock/Kirk story you also get everything else you’d want from this movie. Fire fights, fistfights, explosions, lasers, weird aliens, even a sexy green chick Kirk tries to kick it with.

Casting wise everybody here is spot on across the board. I’m not a Heroes fan but show regular Zachary Quinto is a fantastic Spock. Not only does he do service to all of the traits Leonard Nimoy brought to the character he also manages to make it his own. This Spock is a little more human, a little angrier, something you would totally accept from a younger less seasoned Vulcan. Quinto has you constantly believing this is the younger version of our beloved Spock. He never takes his version of too far out of what we know to break character.

Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk was a much harder role to tackle and Pine rises to the occasion nicely. William Shatner (the original Kirk) has long been an icon of hammy overacting and cheese ball sincerity. Pine was face with trying to reinvent a character that has way crossed the line into silly parody. He accomplishes this by keeping Kirk’s intensity and dedication to fighting the good fight but dropping everything else. If you’re coming looking for Pine to do the whole Kirk-Speak thing then stay home, Pine is way too interested in making Kirk a three dimensional human being.

The rest of the cast kicks as much ass as the two leads, especially Karl Urban whose version of Bones McCoy is so perfect he walks away with nearly every scene he’s in. The only other performance that can battle Urban’s for scene-stealing Heavy Weight Champ is Simon Pegg’s Scotty. Harold And Kumar stoner John Cho is a solid Mr. Sulu and Anton Yelchin is an able, if a little clunky Anton Chekov. Again a hat must be tipped to Abrams for allowing these actors to make the characters their own without sacrificing what made the originals so memorable.

The new Star Trek also manages to weave in the classic stuff from the original series without forcing it. From the classic lines we all want to hear, to Captain Pike to actually getting to watch Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario, it’s all here. What makes it work is that Abrams introduces all these nods with great style, you never feel like he’s doing it just to please the fans. There’s even an awesome detail involving the bad guy Romulan ship that would be picked up by the truly dedicated Star Trek fan.

If I had to pick a downside it would be Uhura. Actress Zoe Saldana is capable enough but she isn’t given much to do besides look really hot. In fact there’s so little of her character outside of eye candy its almost sexist in an age where sexism is supposedly a thing of the past. There’s also a weird scenario involving her and Spock that makes no sense. The other issue involves an ending scene with Spock that just wasn’t necessary for the film so it feels really forced.

Those are tiny little things that in the scope of the movie don’t really affect it at all. This is so much what I wanted the Wolverine movie to be, fun, exciting, well written with a great balance between the lineage and the reinvention. George Lucas could also take a page from Abrams about telling a back-story with out fist-fucking our childhood…but I digress. Star Trek is a good time summer popcorn movie that’s also well written, endearing and filled with characters you care about. JJ Abrams has proven without a doubt that you can make a kick ass blockbuster summer event movie that’s also a really wonderful film.

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