PaulRom Revisits: STAR TREK (2009)
With the recent news/rumors surrounding the highly anticipated next adventure of the Enterprise crew in 2013, I decided to take a look back at JJ Abrams' revival of the popular sci-fi franchise...
I realized I haven't posted a revisit for quite a while (let alone a film review period; my last couple reviews were for comics and the Green Lantern animated series premiere), so I was looking for something good to look back on. After some consideration, I decided to rewatch JJ Abrams' critically acclaimed Star Trek reboot. I first saw it a year ago, and immediately fell in love with almost everything about it (that's coming from someone who never really was a Trekkie before). Plus I've been wanting to rewatch it for some time afterwards, and I managed to buy it last week from the Black Friday sales. So below is my spoiler-filled revisit of the Trekboot...
Star Trek (2009)
2 hr. 7 min.
The fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of bitter rivals born worlds apart. One, James Tiberius Kirk, a delinquent, thrill-seeking Iowa farm boy, a natural-born leader in search of a cause. The other, Spock, grows up on the planet Vulcan, an outcast due to his half-human background, which makes him susceptible to the volatile emotions that Vulcans have long lived without, and yet an ingenious, determined student, who will become the first of his kind accepted into the Starfleet Academy.
Kirk and Spock could not be more different. Yet, in their quest to figure out who they really are and what they have to give to the world, they soon become competitive cadets-in-training. With their drastically opposite styles, one driven by fiery passion, the other by rigorous logic, they also become defiant, contentious adversaries, each equally unimpressed with the other, each going all out to be among the special few chosen to join the crew of the most advanced starship ever created, the U.S.S. Enterprise.
In the midst of it all, Kirk and Spock will come face-to-face with an undeniable destiny: a need to forge an unlikely but powerful partnership, enabling them to lead their crew to boldly go where no one has gone before.
As I've said before, I never was a Trekkie or anything. I first saw a handful of episodes from the original Star Trek series, but never really got into the franchise. Star Wars was much more of my style. However, with the announcement of a new Star Trek film starting the franchise from scratch and release of TV spots/trailers, I was immediately interested. And when I first saw the movie I was floored. Stunning acting, amazing visual effects, and most importantly an excellent story carrying everything. And dare I say it, I probably liked it more than some of the Star Wars films (at least better than the first two prequels). I felt the same way when I rewatched Star Trek earlier this week.
Perhaps the strongest part about the movie is that the plot/script is virtually perfect. Other than Kirk calling a guard "Cupcake" (and vice versa later on), it's hard to think of any hit-and-miss dialogue throughout. There aren't plotholes or anything of the kind. There's only a handful of actors who churn out less than stellar performances. And only a certain plot twist was really uncalled for (I'll talk about that later). Abrams does a fantastic job at bringing in familiar Trek elements (the "Space, the final frontier" monologue, "Beam us up Scotty!", etc) into a mostly completely different feel for the movie. (Bringing back Leonard Nimoy as an older Spock was pure genius, I hope they can bring back William Shatner for a sequel.) The plot was stellar as well, especially with the whole Romulan/Spock future plot point (which was very clever, and I admire Abrams for using a new villain instead of an older one for the first installment of the series).
The character development was done top notch. Digging particularly deep into Kirk and Spock's origins, the film also explores the past of the villainous Nero and (on a much smaller level) Scotty and Bones. While Uhura could've been fleshed out a little more, the rest of the characters are very believable, and the spot-on acting helped that. Chris Pine was excellent as the rebellious-turned-genuine Jim Kirk, bringing plenty of emotion to the character. Zachary Quinto is perfect as Spock, he almost looked unrecognizable at times with the hairdo and Vulcan ears. The way he does the eyebrow like Leonard Nimoy did in the original Trek show always cracks me up. Bruce Greenwood's great as Captain Pike, and Eric Bana (who most of us CBMers remember as the 2003 Hulk) was also unrecognizable in his performance as the Romulan leader Nero. The rest of the crew - Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, etc. - were all great in their respective roles (except John Cho as Sulu; while he wasn't terrible, he was definitely out of place).
The visual effects are also top-notch. While at times the action may seem too similar to Star Wars (a common complaint from traditional Trekkies), it's still highly entertaining. Thankfully, it's one of those movies that actually relies on story rather than eye candy to succeed as a truly great film (looking at the Transformers trilogy here).
As for flaws, I can only think of one that keeps this from being a five-star movie: The romance between Spock and Uhura. I'm not against the romance in itself, but when Kirk and Uhura are played up to be a couple at the beginning of the film and suddenly she likes Spock, that's what I have a problem with. It's a common complaint among others that this love triangle wasn't needed, and I fully agree. Otherwise, I can't think of any flaws in the movie (other than a couple of nitpicks above).
In the end, Star Trek is truly something else. Filled with dazzling effects, stellar acting and a heart underneath, this is definitely a must-see. It's converted me into a Trekkie (been watching some of the TOS and TNG stuff recently to catch up), and is bound to convert many others (and hopefully please traditional Trekkies as well). JJ Abrams has a lot to live up to with the much anticipated sequel (2013 needs to hurry up), but for now, he's definitely created a masterpiece that's unlike many movies out right now. But for the record, I still think Star Wars is a better series.
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