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Star Trek
Tuesday, 2009 May 12 - 8:57 am
Star Trek 11? Star Trek Zero? Whatever it's called, this movie is clearly the start of a new franchise, with a hot young cast and a clean slate for future story lines.

I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that the new J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek movie is a complete "reboot" of the Star Trek universe. It's an attempt to shake off the prissy, hammy moralizing that had infected the television shows since somewhere around episode 8 of ST:TNG. My impression within the first few minutes of the movie is that it's much like what the new Batman movies are trying to bring: a darker, grittier, and more swashbuckling style.

I think it was Ed who mentioned that watching this movie was like watching the Baby Looney Tunes version of Star Trek, and I'm inclined to agree with that. It seems somewhat improbable that you'd get all of our favorite Enterprise crew members together when they're all some ten to fifteen years younger than in the original series. But on the whole, the new cast is solid. Zachary Quinto is spectacular as a young Spock, and Chris Pine is suitably smarmy and arrogant as James T. Kirk. Simon Pegg is a treat to watch as a comedic Scotty, and Karl Urban is surprisingly brilliant as Dr. McCoy.

The new Uhura, Zoe Saldana, seems to have a much more important role than Nichelle "Hailing Frequencies Open" Nichols: her job seems to be play the hot romantic interest, which I suppose was to be expected with Uhura as the lone woman on the bridge. It's a bit of a shame that the writers didn't grab the opportunity to make stronger female characters in this movie, but I suppose they understand their core audience.

John Cho was a decent choice for Sulu, though his character was underdeveloped in this movie. Anton Yelchin was a somewhat odd Chekov; that character was also underdeveloped. I suppose there's only so much time to spend on lesser characters in the movie.

Plot-wise, there are lots of odd coincidences and bits of convenient timing that may leave you scratching your head later. While the story is fairly interesting and the action keeps moving, there's always this sense of "I know where this film is going, now how is it going to get there?" And there's a totally gratuitous monster scene in the middle of the movie that made me wonder if the CGI guys were in charge of the script. But, eh. This movie is clearly designed to be a vehicle, not a destination, so I can forgive a few plot holes.

In terms of special effects, the movie is visually stunning; some scenes were downright jaw-dropping. It's probably a good bet that this will be an early favorite for Best Special Effects at the next Oscars.

The movie drops a lot of little tidbits for long-time Star Trek fans; references to past shows and pieces of Star Trek canon abound. But this is primarily a movie designed to appeal to today's audiences, to teens and twenty-somethings who have grown up on the Shia LaBeouf/Megan Fox "Transformers" and the Johnny Depp "Pirates of the Caribbean". The interesting thing is the way it's trying to achieve that: by returning to Star Trek's "Wagon Train" roots. This new Star Trek is an adventure, not a morality play. So yes, kids, this is not your father's Star Trek... it's your grandfather's Star Trek, and you should be thankful for that.

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews


Comment #1 from John C (Guest)
2009 May 12 - 10:54 pm : #
I find your 10-15 years younger comment interesting. On average this new cast is a just few years younger than the original cast was when the series started. The problem is if you were 30 in 1967, you looked like a man. If you are 30 in 2009, you look like a boy.
Comment #2 from Ken (realkato)
2009 May 13 - 12:15 am : #
Okay, so I had to look it up.

In 1966: Shatner 35, Nimoy 35, Kelley 46, Doohan 46, Nichols 33. Average 39.

In 2009: Pine 28, Quinto 31, Urban 36, Pegg 39, Saldana 30. Average: 32.8

So you're right, the real age difference is only about six years (five if you include Sulu and Chekov in the mix). But I think the new cast members were specifically chosen for their youthful appearance; I don't think you can really make the same assertion about the original cast.
Comment #3 from Monty (Guest)
2009 May 13 - 11:41 pm : #
I was never a huge Trek fan. I watched them, but never got caught up in the series, and this movie definately did appeal to me. I didn't feel left out, or like I was missing anything with my rudimentary Trek background.

Also, I saw this today and it is mildly amusing:
My Favorite Movie (Star Trek vs. Star Wars)

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