By Mack Chico
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content.
Release Date: 2009-05-08
Starring: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Official Website: http://www.startrekmovie.com/
2009’s ‘Star Trek’ is a youthful, and very entertaining modern revival of the classic and outdated TV series and movie franchise starring William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy. This new version is an all out action film that manages to balance it with some terrific casting, CGI effects and humor. Very similar to what ‘Iron Man’ as a movie offered. Star Trek has been designed with the lofty goal of keeping current fans, repatriating lapsed ones and, by re-branding the name, opening the Trek universe to millions of new viewers. J.J. Abrams‘ attempt has mostly succeeded.
The storyline is essentially the deep exploration of the beginnings of Captain Kirk and Spock. This allows the story to establish the origins of all the classic characters and the circumstances that brought them all together. Within this framework, Kirk and Spock meet and soon become competitive cadets-in-training. With their drastically opposite styles, one driven by passion, the other by rigorous logic, they become defiant adversaries, each going all out to be th4 captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock) makes a cameo in the role that made him famous, and the connection between “new Trek” and “classic Trek” is created. Just like Nimoy’s appearance, there are a myriad of subtle homages to the old television series and Patrick Stewart films that the true Trekkies will appreciate. Oddly enough, Shatner was nowhere to be seen.
There are some narrative cracks though. Abrams and his screenwriters, longtime Trek fans Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Mission Impossible 3), do their best to keep things engaging despite the tremendous constraints of the “origin” format, but there are times when the material feels rushed. When considering pace, this is most definitely that anti-Star Trek: The Motion Picture. No loving, languid shots here.
Star Trek is clearly an action-oriented motion picture, with an intensity that exceeds even that of The Wrath of Khan. The pace is blistering, and the movie is littered with the eye candy of expertly realized space battles. The special effects are beyond those seen in any of the previous ten Star Trek features. In addition to the battles, there are also chases, fight scenes, and all the other staples one expects from an action movie.
The casting could not have been better Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) truly embody the essence of the priginal characters. The dominican actress Zoe Saldaña plays Uhura, but with a new sexiness absent from the previous versions.
Ultimately, when the end credits roll, we’re left with the sense that Star Trek represents a good beginning. As a film tasked with getting all the characters together, re-booting a timeline, and finding a way to return a veteran actor to his beloved role, Star Trek works. There is some awkwardness here – it feels like the “hybrid” it is (or, as it has been called, “Not Your Father’s Star Trek”) but, considering how ponderous and stilted the Star Trek movie series had become, perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Still, as with any prequel/re-start, the real test will arrive with the next movie (purportedly in two years – assuming this one does not flop at the box office). The setup is complete; now it’s time to see whether the implied potential of this first entry into a new series can be realized in its sequel.