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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Star Trek

MOVIE REVIEWS

STAR TREK (2009)

Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Morrison, Tyler Perry and Leonard Nimoy.

Screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Directed by J.J. Abrams.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  127 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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Star Trek

Star Trek is a story that has been told so many times and in so many variations that it seems hard to believe that there could possibly be something new to say with it. 

Therefore, the new film, while not perfect, achieves an impressive feat by simply giving a new and interesting pulse to an old, slightly worn-out franchise. 

To paraphrase an old car commercial starring the last guy who played Capt. James T. Kirk: This isn’t your father’s Star Trek

The old Star Trek was more cerebral and slow-moving.  This is an amped-up adventure saga for the new millennium.  It’s not necessarily saying one way of telling the story is better than the other – they are just completely different styles. 

Director J.J. Abrams has acknowledged that he was never a huge fan of the old series, and perhaps having someone who is not in awe of the mythology of the series is just what is needed.  Had the film been made by someone who was more invested in the series the film probably would not have been as much fun.  (Though, on the other hand, it may not have seemed as frivolous as well.)  It certainly would not have played so fast and loose with the rules of Gene Roddenberry’s universe. 

Many of the changes are glibly explained away through time travel causing shifts in history – granted, a story track that the old show used relatively often as well. 

The new Star Trek is a background film – showing us the birth of James T. Kirk in the middle of a starship battle which killed his father.  We skirt quickly through their youths – Kirk is a bit of a cocky juvenile delinquent and Spock is tormented for being a half-breed.  Eventually their paths cross in the Intergalactic Federation – where both are sort of outcasts and yet at the same time brilliant – and they immediately hate each other until they are held to a trial by fire. 

The smartest thing that Chris Pine (Bottle Shock) did in his portrayal of the iconic starship captain was completely disregarding William Shatner’s famously mannered portrayal of the character and making it his own.  Pine’s take on Kirk is sometimes a little too cocky, sometimes a little too shallow and yet he has literally reinvented a character we all assume we know and given him an interesting new set of problems and skills. 

Zachary Quinto also tries to put his own stamp on the character of Spock – however he has the added challenge of having to share the film with the actor who made the role famous, Leonard Nimoy appears here as Spock as an old man, once even in the same scene with his younger self.  (It’s a time travel thing; don’t even try to make sense of it.) 

The other Starship Enterprise characters have very little to do here, though Simon Pegg and Karl Urban do have some good natured fun with Scotty and Bones, other characters like Sulu (John Cho) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) struggle for screentime but get very little of interest to do – and a romantic subplot between Spock and Uhura just feels awkward.  Chekov (Anton Yelchin) literally only has his accent to receive any notice.  And, of course, there is always that random crew-member who beams into trouble with our stars who you just know is going to die. 

A good Star Trek story usually rides on the strength of it’s bad guy (The Wrath of Khan, anybody?) and sadly this is the place where the new film sort of stumbles.  Eric Bana – who plays the tortured Romulan commander Nero – is certainly a good enough actor to make an awesome villain, but his role as written has little dimension or nuance.  He’s evil just because he was written to be evil – and that’s not a good enough reason. 

Still, despite some flaws, in general Star Trek is a successful rebooting of the series.  It strikes delicate balancing act so that both the fan-boys and those who never watched the show will find something there to enjoy.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 12, 2009.

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Copyright ©2009   PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 12, 2009.