Friday, May 08, 2009
Movie Reviews: STAR TREK
From director J.J. Abrams ("Mission: Impossible III," "Lost" and "Alias"), producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman ("Transformers," "MI: III") comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, "Star Trek," featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no one has gone before.
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban
Director: J.J. Abrams
Opened May 7, 2009
Runtime: 2 hr. 6 min.
Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi action and brief sexual content
Genres: Space Adventure, Science Fiction
First let me preface this review that I’ve been a Trek fan since I was kid and started watching ST: The Next Generation in 87’. Since then I’ve watched any and every incarnation of Trek that’s come out, good or bad. Needless to say I may be a bit biased in my view of J.J. Abrams redux. Regardless I’ll give it my best shot. J.J. Abrams has created a new “version” of classic Trek which now comes in an easy to swallow pill for the uninitiated. First off it’s not a reboot in the truest sense as the script uses a few of Trek’s biggest crutches, time traveling and alternate realities, to give us this fresh version of Star Trek. From the opening sequence we get a great sense of what’s in store. An impressive space battle filled with the type of frenzied combat that has rarely been seen in Trek before. The action is well choreographed and briskly paced. The classic phaser beams from the starships have been replaced with pulse shots which resemble Star Wars a tad more. As a result, the space battles are quicker and more like dog fights as opposed to the classic submarine feel. Its effect and engaging, grabbling the audience from the start. J.J. Abrams makes it clear from the start that his version of Trek would have a higher focus on action as opposed to the cerebral aspect of Roddenberry’s original concept. In this version we don’t get long philosophical monologues about the prime directive or any high sounding concepts. In doing so Abrams streamlines the overall concept and make the film a more visceral experience as opposed to a cerebral one. The space battles are massive set pieces clearly benefiting from the greatly improved budget, when compared to the previous Trek films. The technical aspects are deftly handled giving the audience all it can handle in each engagement. Needless to say, Abram’s does a great job at the helm giving the general audience something fun and easily digestible throughout. Scripting from his long time collaborators Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman does a fine job of giving hardcore fans plenty of tidbits and throwaway lines that’ll make them grin while never folding too deeply into Trek’s massive mythology. That being said, the script is a weak point as it relies on very traditional Star Trek devices and antagonist. The overall plot is a rehash from countless other Trek stories from the movies and shows. The villain and his motivations are just as familiar. The fresh faced cast gives the script a much needed lift and most turn in very impressive performances considering the task at hand. Chris Pine was tasked with the toughest task of turning in a fresh approach to Shatner’s Kirk. Pine turns in a solid if slightly uneven performance. There are moments were channels Shatner’s charisma and charm and other times he just misses the mark. Thankfully he succeeds more than he fails and makes a fine Kirk and never falls into parody. Zachary Quinto delivers a measured performance, his younger version of Spock brims with emotions ready to bubble up at any moment. Karl Urban truly channels the late Deforest Kelly in his turn as Doctor McCoy. It’s a fun performance that recalls all of Kelly’s fine work but avoids strict imitation. Zoe Saldana gives Uhura a strong sense of self and purpose in limited screen time. Simon Pegg, John Cho & Anton Yelchin are all clearly having fun in their supporting turns as Scotty, Sulu and Chekov. Bruce Greenwood’s turn as Captain Pine, the Enterprise’s first captain, is appropriately serious and fatherly. Ben Cross as Sarek, Spock’s father, misses the mark especially when compared to Mark Lenard’s previous interpretation. He doesn’t do anything new with the role and is mildly forgettable. Eric Bana is straddled with a very traditional Star Trek villain and he does the best he can with it. Bana gives Nero a decent amount of rage but the script doesn’t really allow for much more. Leonard Nimoy’s extended cameo is great giving longtime Trek fans a nice link to this new iteration. Cameo’s by Winona Ryder and Tyler Perry (?) are non invasive and ultimately pointless. As a whole this entire endeavor is a fine example of properly rebooting long running franchises much like the recent James Bond and Batman redux. J.J. Abram’s film walks that fine line, keeping hardcore fandom and the general public happy.