Monday, June 13, 2011

STAR TREK (2009)

J.J. Abrams, 2009
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana

Star Trek (2009) is the eleventh film in the series, though it does not follow the original series films (1 - 6) or the Next generation films (7 - 10). Weirdly, it was written and marketed as a reboot, rather than a remake or a continuation. It straddles the line between prequel and sequel, allowing us to see the young, action-packed Kirk and Spock. I went in to the theater certain I was going to hate the shit out of this, but I actually really enjoyed it and have seen it a few times since. The alternate timeline bullshit is a bit much and the plot is long and convoluted, but it's so much fun that I can't complain too much.

Nero (Eric Bana) is fucking pissed because Spock accidentally blew up Romulus, so he tricks out his ship, which used to be a mining vessel, and travels through time trying to utterly destroy Spock. He accidentally has a confrontation with the ship Kirk's father is on, destroying the ship and Kirk Senior in the process. The young James Tiberius grows up very differently without a father, though he eventually finds his way to Star Fleet and onto the brand spanking new Enterprise. Through a series of coincidences, leaps of insight, and misunderstandings, Kirk tries to convince the current captain, Pike (Bruce Greenwood), that they are in serious danger and have to help Vulcan, which is under attack. Spock, who dislikes and distrusts Kirk, is a constant thorn in his side. When Pike is taken hostage on the Romulan ship, Spock is promoted to captain and Kirk to first officer, though Spock temporarily gets rid of Kirk on a nearby planet.

While marooned, Kirk runs into the real Spock, who gives him some clues and helps him get back aboard the Enterprise. Meanwhile Nero succeeds in destroying Vulcan, killing Spock's mother in the process. It is clear that Nero's next stop is Earth, because Spock is from two worlds, logically he has to destroy both of them. Kirk and OG Spock meet Scotty on the ice planet and he figures out how to beam them onto moving Enterprise. Kirk manages to gain the upper hand and the captaincy from Spock, but convinces Spock to help him, so they plan a crazy rescue mission where Kirk will save Pike and Spock will destroy Nero's ship. (Note: Spock does all the real work.) Of course they save the day, avoid a court-martial and are promoted to Captain and first officer, respectively.

Star Trek is fun and action-packed, but full of sloppy writing. The jumps in time are irritating and the science is stretched about as far as Event Horizon. That's not a compliment. Everything about the event horizon, red matter, and supernova somehow magically blowing up Romulus needs to go. Also, everyone looks like they're in an Apple store, which is a little ridiculous. Though I am a devoted Mac user and am typing this out on my MacBook, really?

Those are the majority of my complaints. The split in time/reality both solves and creates problems, though the writers are pretty good-natured about it. I enjoy that they are able to poke fun at themselves, which namely happens when the two Spocks meet at the end of the film and discuss the logical probability of the universe imploding because they are in the same place at the same time.

Overall the actors, director and writers treat the material with enthusiasm, respect, and seriousness. They were apparently grateful for the presence and involvement of Leonard Nimoy and so am I. Each of the original cast members gave their blessing and advice to the new cast, which brings a tear of joy to my eye. Shatner gave Chris Pine his approval, but neglected to appear in the film. He was supposed to have a cameo, but refused to make an appearance unless he could have as big a role as Nimoy.

I have absolutely no complaints about Chris Pine as Kirk or Zachary Quinto as Spock. Though no one will ever replace Leonard Nimoy as Spock, he gave it a fighting chance. Most of the actors did a great job: Karl Urban was totally unlike his normal action-fantasy-hero roles as Bones, Zoe Saldana was sexy and sassy as Uhura, and it was nice to see Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty. I also especially loved Anton Yelchin as Chekov (Terminator: Salvation) and hope to see more of him in the future.

Overall the film received great reviews and is the highest grossing Star Trek film to date. You can buy the single disc DVD, two-disc digital copy or three disc blu-ray at Amazon. I believe it's also streaming on Netflix.

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