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Star Trek (2009) – Movie Review

Star Trek (2009) movie poster art

Written by: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman, based on the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy

My Advice: Don’t miss it.

Something’s gone horribly awry: a strange ship has appeared out of nowhere and destroyed the starship, the U.S.S. Kelvin. But out of death comes life (or some such hackneyed expression) and the life here is the birth of James Tiberius Kirk (Pine), who takes the loss of his father rather hard. He uses this to become a complete miscreant while those around him are joining Starfleet to make something of themselves. After another public altercation, he gets admonished by Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who dares him to rise to his father’s legacy and surpass it–by joining Starfleet.

[ad#longpost]I’m no Trekkie. Or Trekophile or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves now. I have an appreciation for what the show did for the science fiction genre, and I have an appreciation for the great characters that it spawned. Not to mention the careers. Alternate realities with no Shatner are much poorer for their loss, I assure you. But going into this I didn’t have the attachment that many did. I did, however, have the apprehension that comes of any landmark franchise getting revamped or rejiggered. Especially one as weighted as this one–since Paramount had worked so hard to drive the franchise into the ground and then blame the franchise for being tired. And, honestly, this might be the biggest rejigger of them all, what with all the TV series, movies, books, comics and everything else. This could help the thesis put forward by Batman Begins and Casino Royale: that it can be done properly in the hands of the right people. And I was still afraid a bit into the film, honestly: the whole Starfleet cadets taking a ship out is about a hop away from the plot of SpaceCamp, for God’ s sake.

But no, there’s really nothing to concern yourself with. Star Trek wins. It manages to have reverence for its source material but also uses it as a jumping off point to make a 21st Century version of the franchise. Is there explodo and phaser fights and space battles and action galore? Yes, naturally. But there’s also the most emotional beginning to a sci-fi action flick I can recall in recent memory. And great character moments.

And great acting, too. The actors involved understand that there is something expected of a Kirk, a Spock, a McCoy, in the same way that there was a certain framework that Daniel Craig had to work within as the new Bond. But just like Craig gets to still do things his way, everybody gets to make the characters their own. And by the end of the film, I was willing to give them that because I felt like they’d earned it.

Pine makes a for an excellent Kirk, and everybody brings something great to the table–for instance, it’s nice to see Karl Urban do something a little different and fun–but it’s Zachary Quinto’s Spock that held the most interest for me. There’s so much to do with the role and Quinto takes full advantage of the half-human/half-Vulcan aspects of emotion vs. logic.

And none of this felt like pandering. Sure, some of the classic lines got applause, but none of them had that “Well, we had to do put that in and this is good as any place else” feel to it that you get with some homages.

I wish I could talk more about why I was so impressed with the script and how it handled everything, but the less you know going in, the better. Just suffice to say that it’s probably my favorite reboot writing-wise, just because they were able to do more in this genre than you could do in another.

It’s just been a long time since I left a Star Trek film–or anything Trek-related for that matter–feeling elated. And here, Abrams and crew pulled it off. I look forward to a sequel with the trepidation that I feel towards all sequels, but whatever comes next, just remember: this film won.