10 May 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek


Star Trek
2009, 129mins, PG-13
Director: J.J Abrams
Writer (s): Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Cast includes: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Eric Bana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Ben Cross, Tyler Perry
Release Date: 8th May 2009

“Star Trek” marks the first must see venture for summer 2009, a blockbuster skillfully rendered, filled with the excitement, humor, visuals and heroic characters that audiences simply lap up this time of year. I confess to always having been more of a “Star Wars” guy, but what J.J Abrams has concocted here is superior to any of George Luca’s CGI fuelled prequels. “Star Trek” hits all the essential bases for providing a good time, so despite a handful of hokey exposition and an ordinary villain, I can’t encourage cinema goers to get out and see it enough. Hardcore Trekkers should be more than satisfied with this fantastically rambunctious prequel, whilst relative newbies can also approach this explosive Sci-Fi opera in the knowledge that it’s highly accessible. You don’t need to own a pair of Vulcan ears to enjoy this soon to be smash hit.

The film chronicles the early years of the USS Enterprise and it’s now legendary crew, indeed one could debate it’s the most popular bunch of space explorers since Sci-Fi went visual. After a brief but important piece of back-story we are introduced to James Kirk (Chris Pine), a reckless and cynical farm boy yearning for something more in life. After involving himself in a brawl Kirk is offered the chance to join Starfleet space academy and despite brief reluctance, eventually enlists. Once there he quickly cements himself as a maverick, a trait not always looked on favorably, particularly by Vulcan Spock (Zachary Quinto). From the youngest of ages Spock has been taught to obey logic and monitor his emotion and thus Kirk’s enigmatic and at times dangerous attitude shocks him. However the two are promptly expected to put their differences aside when an enemy from the past returns, a vengeful Romulan called Nero (Eric Bana) who has a burning desire to get revenge on Starfleet. His plans are destructive and ultimately approach genocide levels of death and mutilation, thus the still fresh faced members of the USS Enterprise are thrown together to stop him.

As far as reboots go I can’t think of any better in recent years than “Star Trek”, it’s easily on a par with the likes of “Casino Royale” and “Batman Begins”, a statement only further highlighting its quality. Many fans were perplexed when Abrams let loose his intentions to revisit the original characters, why go back when you can go forward they hollered. Well those naysayers might as well return to their troll like fixation with premature and undeserved slander, as “Star Trek” soars high enough to make it in all probability, this year’s most entertaining event movie. Indeed if it isn’t then we have something truly special to look forward to.

In tone the film has hit exactly the right chord, it’s a serious adventure but screenwriters Orci and Kurtzman have added in lively twists of humor to keep things ever approachable and consistently appealing. The pair also wrote 2007’s “Transformers” another big hitter with an ability to enthrall and entice, and so are looking at seriously prosperous lives in this industry. The script pings the characters from one wonderfully enjoyable set-piece to another, never turning its back on furthering the personalities as it does so. “Star Trek” really explores the origin of Kirk and Spock in a way most fans won’t anticipate, simply because it’s so thoughtful, resonant and loving. The dialogue to is thunderously written, stilted lines and wooden delivery are two problems long associated with the blockbuster season, but “Star Trek” rarely suffers from either. The story requires a slightly dubious mcguffin about halfway through, but thanks to the epic and relentlessly fun nature of the final product, it’s easily forgiven.

The movie brings the whole of the Enterprise’s crew to the fore, but in truth like the TV show it’s all about Kirk and Spock. The tag team that defined a generation of adventure are wonderfully recreated thanks to Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine, the latter putting in the picture’s standout performance. Pine has the essential swagger and likability in bags, also proving a dab hand at action moments and the zinging one liner. If ever the term space cowboy had a cinematic incarnation, its Pine’s delightfully mischievous and endearingly courageous interpretation of Kirk. Quinto also excels, finding the monotonous yet bizarrely colorful cocktail that is Spock, bringing the oxymoron of a personality dazzlingly to life onscreen. It’s always Pine’s show but one might debate that Quinto manages to draw the heftier weight of emotional gold; the origins of Spock are in subtle ways possibly even more tragic than those of Kirk. As Bones Karl Urban is good value, and filling Uhura’s shoes Zoe Saldana does a rather terrific job. The young actress is provided limited screentime but sizzles with sass and is part of one of Abram’s most interesting departures. “Star Trek” features a surprising romantic element, and whilst not spoiling anything, its success can be largely attributed to Saldana’s touching interpretation.

Elsewhere actors prove more than adequate in the roles of famous supporting players, John Cho is perfectly weighted as Sulu whilst Simon Pegg gets to do a lot of the heavy comedy work as Scotty. Anton Yelchin is vaguely irritating as Russian youngster Chekov but in truth it’s easily forgotten given the impressive majority of the casting. Indeed the only genuine disappointment is Eric Bana playing the big bad rogue Romulan, though whilst mediocre, his performance is never a travesty. One would hope that in the future adventures of the young Enterprise Abrams provides a more memorable villain, but seeing as this one focuses more on the developing heroes than the first big journey, it’s a minor detractor.

Abrams directs “Star Trek” like a Spielberg or Lucas, he has the high flying energy and charming cinematic heart that characterizes the best works of those fine directors, and if he can hold this level of soaring excellence he could fill their now fading shoes. Each action sequence is marked with creative visuals and flawless CGI, Abrams seemingly looking veteran in the way he caresses excitement from even the most basic set-pieces. The finish is seriously large scale stuff, but in truth what really marks “Star Trek” out as a fabulous piece of summer entertainment is its ability to entertain without having to lavish millions of dollars on a scene. The film is effortless in the way it captivates and gets the balance between character and action just right, resulting in an arresting combination of personal development and bombastic blockbuster moments.

If even one more film can live up to expectations like “Star Trek” then the writer’s strike will not have had a fatal effect on summer 2009. This is the sort of high quality escapism that popcorn and extra large cokes where designed for, a film for the whole family to sit back and revel in. A thrilling collection of what makes big budget cinema special, “Star Trek” is nigh on vital viewing for those who like their movies big, explosive and gloriously fun.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


Coffee Nomad said...

Everything about this new Star Trek was great as far as i'm concerned, except at the theater the reel kept jumping and the sound went out a couple of times... why are movie theaters still using film i wonder?

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