Star Trek (2009) Movie Review
Imagine a world where space travel is common place, where there are crafts travelling faster than light speed warping through space and time, where transporting humans across distances can be achieved with teleportation, where ingenuity, courage, determination and loyalty are character traits to be expected. Now imagine experiencing all that during your formative years watching Star Trek: The Original Series. While we’ve all become jaded over the years, and special effects have come a long way since the 70’s, sometimes we all need a movie to come along to bring back the fond memories of watching the possibilities of the human species advancing beyond our time.
While a new gloss of paint is slathered over this reboot of the franchise, the underlying Trekkiness is all there. The characters and their mannerisms, the epic space battles, the Trek universe science, the ingenious problem solving, the sense of duty to the Federation; it’s all there, hitting the right notes, echoing the spirit of The Original Series. While not an exact carbon copy of exacting standards, merely an artist sketch and rendering of a source material that is fondly loved by most, and alien to some. In other hands, I don’t think this reboot would work, but in the hands of master artist J.J. Abrams, the final artwork manages to rekindle memories of past for die hard Trekkies, I mean Trekkers, and introduce the average moviegoer to what is arguably the best representation of Star Trek: T.O.S. for this decade.
While the story is essentially a genesis story of how the legendary crew of U.S.S. Enterprise came together, the star of the show was definitely Chris Pine’s portrayal of James Tiberius Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Mind you, fitting in the shoes left by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy is a herculean task considering the intellectual property and the millions of die hard Trek fans out there; they’ve taken these beloved characters’ essence and made it their own. While Heroes fans might have a hard time to dissociate Quinto from Sylar, by the end of the movie, Quinto is unmistakably Spock, no nonsense, and logical antithesis to Kirk, brash, devil may care attitude with a wicked sense of gut instincts that proves to be useful to the Federation. The interplay between the duo’s distinctly different approaches are woefully brief however, as there needed to be screen time to develop the other characters as well, but it’s nothing a sequel can’t rectify.
All the other beloved characters are present and accounted for, with John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Karl Urban as the inimitable DeForest Kelley, I mean Dr. McCoy, Zoe Saldana as the love interest Uhura, and Simon Pegg as the beloved Scotty. While a sequel is still up in the air, there is room for the actors and actresses to grow into the characters and make it their own. While Karl Urban is undeniably DeForest Kelley reborn, Simon Pegg has redefined Scotty to be a very excitable Simon Pegg. Even the Enterprise has that certain T.O.S. retro charm to it, with the consoles and control panels looking like the updated versions of the T.O.S. ones, there is that feeling of adherence to the original cast, Enterprise included, while updating it for a fresher look to attract the new fans.
While the story’s plotlines are not what you’d expect from previous Star Trek movies, but in the world of J.J. Abrams, it fits right in. All the important plot points are plausible in the Star Trek universe, with a number of movies in the Star Trek saga having had established precedents. But if you somehow by now managed not to know the storyline, then you will be pleasantly surprised. While it might seem too complex to the average moviegoer at first, but during the viewing, the suspension of disbelief is carried forward ever so gently by the pacing and the avoidance of total sci-fi geekery by not bombarding technical jargon at the audience. By the time of the movie’s revelation scene, the audience will be so emotionally invested in the characters and their predicaments; they will be much more receptive of the ideas introduced in the movie.
Special mention has to go to the cinematography and the special effects. The sweeping angles, the dramatic, and poetic, slow motion sequences, the believable presence of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the most realistic CG sequences ever put on screen, even the controversial overuse of lens flare; it all adds up to a unique viewing experience not matched since Iron Man. Considering the movie was directed by the man who brought to us the unique Cloverfield, and the best sci-fi show since the X-Files, Fringe, there was no doubt from the start that Star Trek will be a unique movie experience. While die hard Trekkers would bemoan this very fact alone, but the net effect of boosting the popularity and accessibility of the Star Trek franchise cannot be ignored. This is the one movie to catch this summer blockbuster season. Bar none.
9 Red Shirt Ensigns out of 10.