Movie: "Star Trek"
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Writing credits: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Plot: A new origin story details how Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise got together.
Review: I've always considered myself a Star Trek fan. I loved watching reruns of the Original Series when I was a kid, and my father and I used to watch the new Next Generation episodes religiously every week. But I'd hardly call myself a Star Trek fanatic. I enjoy watching the show, but I couldn't tell you what episode had the best view of Scotty's missing fingers, or the one episode where Riker didn't call a red alert over some non-threat. I also think that Gene Roddenberry's vision of the "everybody gets along" future is cheesy, and perhaps even a little bit gay.
I feel like it's important to give you that perspective when I tell you that I loved the new Star Trek film. I'm not the kind of guy who's going to nitpick this or that little detail about how it alters or disregards established continuity, because I recognize that the original continuity was a jumbled mess resulting from many different independent writers not working together on any kind of overall story arc. With the episodic nature of television during that time period, it's not surprising that one episode may contradict something that was established in another.
So I'm not offended by the reboot (which, by the nature of the story, isn't exactly a reboot--a fact I can't explain without giving things away, but suffice it to say there's time travel involved). The franchise was effectively dead, so this breathes some much needed new life into it, and it does a great job of doing so.
The new actors do a fantastic job of inhabiting these characters who were so defined by their original actors that it was hard to imagine anyone else portraying them. Pretty much across the board the new actors manage to make their characters recognizable by drawing skillfully on what came before, but bringing enough new material to the table that they don't simply mimic what the original actors did. The most challenging role to do that with had to be Captain Kirk (because without his cocky swagger and awkward speech pauses, what else is Kirk?), which Chris Pine handled far better than I'd expected. Best of all though was Zachary Quinto, who portrayed Spock as well as if not better than Nimoy had ever done (blasphemy I know, but true all the same).
What I really liked was that every character was given a chance to shine, to do something important and fun for the story, beyond just pushing buttons on a console. True, some of the shuffling characters around like chess pieces to get them where they needed to be was a little far fetched (what are the odds that Kirk would run into who he ran into on that frozen planet?), but I could forgive a lot of that because I was having so much fun.
Yes, I just used the word "fun" in a Star Trek movie review. And this is a damned fun film. Probably the most fun I've seen all year so far. The film was also peppered with little nods and references to the original series that were thrown in just to make oldschool fans smile. Things like the reference to Sulu fencing (not shirtless), the fate of the red shirt who went down to the drill platform with Kirk and Sulu, and McCoy's utterance of the classic McCoy "Dammit Jim" line, which caused a great deal of cheering at the showing I saw. And I couldn't resist making "beep" noises to my friends when I saw the newly promoted Admiral Pike at the end. I'm sure I was hardly the only one.
It's true that there are a lot of silly, stupid things that don't make sense if you think about them long enough. Like how in the hell could Nero possibly know that he had killed Kirk's father? And furthermore, why is a mining ship filled to the brim with enough weapons to take out an armada? Those Romulans are pretty fucking serious about their mining, that's all I have to say. But these inconsistencies are certainly no worse than anything that's been in any other Trek movie, and with a few moments of thought I can come up with my own explanations that satisfy.
I'll admit I wasn't thrilled with the new Enterprise. The bridge was okay, but I felt like parts of the ship looked like the inside of a shopping mall at times. The environment was completely lacking charm, and it certainly didn't feel "homey" to me. But this series has always been more about the characters than the ship anyway.
So much of this film was spent getting the characters together that I for one cannot wait to see where they can take this franchise now that they can jump right into the next story with the complete crew. I just hope they continue to go boldly "where no one has gone before" rather than trying to rehash old storylines that we've all seen before.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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