11
May
2009
Review: Star Trek
Review: Star Trek
Jordan
"Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise." So begins every episode of the hit 1960's series Star Trek which has since spawned numerous other television shows and movies, and created legions of dedicated fans. I should preface my review of the new Star Trek film with a disclaimer: I am not one of these fans. This is not to say I couldn't become a convert, but I have yet to watch a single episode of any Star Trek series, and prior to this installment, I had only seen one other film, on a lark when I was seven years old (imdb tells me this would have been First Contact, but the fact that I had to look it up shows you how strong my memory of it is). I tell you all of this just to give you some insight into how I view this movie.

Now, to the film itself. It opens on the USS Kelvin where we are treated to the high octane birth of James Tiberius Kirk amidst a battle with a gargantuan and deadly space ship. The film then quickly details the early life of Kirk in rural Iowa and the early life of half-Human half-Vulcan Spock on Vulcan. Kirk is a rebellious youth, while Spock shows remarkable intelligence, though he is oft-bullied for his mixed heritage.

The adult Kirk (Chris Pine) joins Starfleet partially out of a desire for something more and partially out of a need to prove to Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) that he is as capable a man as his father. Pine plays Kirk as a carefree charmer, cool and collected under pressure and ready and willing to trade witty barbs at any time. The adult Spock (Zachary Quinto) has already excelled in Starfleet due to his superior intelligence. Quinto was born to play Spock (and in fact, has been playing basically an evil version of him on Heroes for three years already) but he brings emotional resonance to the cold, calculating character. His Spock may attempt to be strictly logical as the Vulcans are, but it is clear early and often that the character has inner depths. The rest of the Enterprise crew, McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (a scene-stealing Simon Pegg) come on board throughout the rest of the film.
The basic story has Kirk sneaking aboard the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise after his suspension and attempting to prevent the ship from running afoul of the very ship that killed his father. Along the way Kirk is constantly at odds with first officer Spock, until a meeting with an older Spock (Leonard Nimoy, reprising his role from the original series) helps him to understand what his destiny might be, and how he might attain his goals.
The film moves at breakneck speed, which occasionally leaves a little bit of character development in the lurch. J.J. Abrams (the creative force behind Lost, Alias, and Cloverfield) directs confidently"”he knows he is at the helm of a treasured series, but also a summer blockbuster and he takes great pains to please both crowds, including an explosion for every nod to the old series. The script, written by Abrams' cohorts Robert ORci and Alex Kurtzman is full of one liners and witty wordplay and definitely keeps viewers interested throughout.

As the movie ended I couldn't help but wish this was the pilot to a brand new television series, and that's a very good thing. I found the characters interesting, the plot compelling and the dialogue snappy. The action was good and the pacing was excellent. The plot may have seemed a bit simple, and at times gimmicky, but as the credits rolled, I found myself perfectly satisfied, if not overjoyed, by what I had seen. Star Trek may not be the smartest movie you'll see all year, but it certainly was a lot of fun and as the summer begins, fun is certainly not a bad thing to be.

Grade: B
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