There are two kinds of people in this world: those that love “Star Trek” and those that don’t. After viewing J.J. Abrams updating of the classic franchise the number of of the former category will grow exponentially. Sprawling, entertaining, funny, and kinetic are hallmarks of Abrams’ style, and he brings his whole bag of tricks to the table with a picture that is sure to excite a new generation into loving the on going mission of the Starship Enterprise, but may leave some die hard Trekkies out in the cold… and it is very cold… in space.
If one can do the hard task of distancing one’s self from any preconceived notions of what “Star Trek” is, was, or will be this movie kicks a lot of ass, and takes names. Jumping into the middle of the action is a signature Abrams move, and “Star Trek” is no different. The stellar opening sequence turns, not only the action, but the emotion up to eleven. From there the emotion for is dialed down to about a six, but if it is action you are looking for this film has a whole cargo bay full of it. Abrams’ fluid camera and razor sharp editing up the ante on this summers’ tent pole films, and displays the confidence of a veteran even though he’s only been in the captain’s chair for two features. But the success of this picture doesn’t lie in its ample big bangs, and giant fireballs; it’s the characters that keep you going.
A typical summer blockbuster rarely rises above an orgy of broken glass, crushed bones, and twisted metal; character is often left by the wayside. “Star Trek” manages to destroy an armada of starships, collapse a planet, and still have some time left over to introduce, or reintroduce as it were, a whole crew of people with whom the audience will be happy to spend two hours.
Comparisons must arise, however, when looking at the cast as some attempt to channel those that came before, and others create new versions of the icons they are playing. Chris Pine would never be able to emulate the swashbuckling swagger that William Shatner endued James Tiberius Kirk with so he doesn’t try. Instead he focuses on his youthful impetuousness, and finds his star legs quickly. Zachary Quinto isn’t dealt as fair of a hand as the shoes he is trying to fill are still being worn, but up against Leonard Nimoy as dueling Spocks he didn’t offend, and that’s actually a compliment. In a somewhat distracting attempt at a DeForrest Kelly-esque southern accent Karl Urban is weighed, measured, and found lacking. The real standout, and truly the only one to take the role and make it his own was Simon Pegg as Scotty. His infectious wit and energy lights up the screen and threatens to steal the show, leaving James Doohan’s portrayal of the character a nostalgic memory.
All that being said “Star Trek’s” failings are with Kurtzman and Orci’s script, and highlights a major discrepancy between the sci-fi of yesteryear, in particular Gene Roddenberry’s creation, and that of today. “Star Trek” was always the thinking man’s science fiction with lofty themes ranging from self sacrifice in the face of mortality (“Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan”) to discarding the differences of the Cold War and pushing forward to an uneasy peace (“Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country”). However here we are given the easy to swallow: Spock, as you are of two races you must choose in which to live. Is the new “Star Trek” aimed at President Obama? Whomever the target of the message it comes off as paper thin, and nothing more than two hours of escapism, something that hardcore fans of the Trek universe have always rebelled against (see “Star Trek: Nemesis”). With too many inside jokes designed to placate those that have kept this franchise viable for forty-three years they could have exerted more effort to hew closer to the core than just scrape the surface.
By Paul S. Myers
Rated PG-13, 2009
Dir: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy
El Luchador Rating: 4 out of 5 (4 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)