MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek (2009)

227 - Star Trek
I’ll say this much for the JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Trek series, it does not mess around.  Opening in the middle of a space battle and child birth happening simultaneously, Star Trek gets stuck right in from the get go and never really lets up until the end credits roll.

The space battle involves the father of Capt. James T. Kirk, sacrificing himself and his ship in a battle against Nero, an evil Romulan played by Eric Banner.  The childbirth is that of Capt. James T. Krik, who’ll grow up to be Chris Pine, a loose cannon who plays by his own rules.  When he joins Starfleet at the urging of his father’s friend Pike (Bruce Greenwood) he meets and immediately befriends Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy.  He also meets and immediately clashes with Zachary Quinto’s Spock, so of course they’ll never become best friends.

Soon, they’re all aboard the brand spanking new Starship Enterprise with Pike in the captain’s chair and Kirk a stowaway.  They answer a distress call form Spock’s home planet of Vulkan and get there to discover it’s Nero, the same Romulan who dispatched Kirk’s old man in the opening scene.  A lot of exposition goes down to explain who Nero is, there’s a little bit if time travel and Leonard Nimoy pops up as old Spock.  It’s the perfect level of convolutedness to make time travel and its effects seem somehow plausible, while never being hard to keep track of what’s going on.

The actors playing the core crew give their performance just enough homage to the originals without ever resorting to hammy impressions.  Pine has the cockiness of Shatner covered, and even throws in one or two stilted line readings.   Quinto handles the measured contemplation of Spock in true Nimoy style and Pegg as Scotty unashamedly jumps head first into the job of comic relief.  Zoe Saldana gets a lot more to do as Uhura than Nichelle Nichols ever did and John Cho’s Sulu is more of an ass kicker than the old movies ever allowed George Takai to be.  The odd man out is Karl Urban as Bones McCoy.  I’m not sure if I loved his scenery chewing take on Deforest Kelly the most, or if he would be more at home on a Saturday Night Live sketch parodying this movie.  Either way, his performance is interesting and stayed with me.

Of course, all the flash of modern technology and CGI means Star Trek loses a little of the charm of the original films, but there are signs of Abrams doing his best to keep a little of that hokey simplicity in tact.  In an era when he could easily fill this world with amazing CGI aliens, Abrams chooses to stick mainly with human actors in makeup and masks. And almost every recognisable sound effect from the old school series is still evident in the reboot.

This movie should be used as example of how to reboot a franchise, how to bring fresh eyes to old characters and how to make people rethink preconceptions about an old property.  I’m no Trek fanatic, so maybe there were plenty of things for hard core fans to hate, but I think Abrams’ nod to the old incarnations were great, and everything new he added was necessary for a 21st century audience.  Chris Pine also shows that if anything terrible ever happens to Channing Tatum, it’s not that bad, because we a have a spare.

Star Trek
Directed By – JJ Abrams
Written By – Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

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