Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek is a very fun, action-packed reboot of the original Roddenberry mythology. It manages to show us more about the characters even a casual observer of the pop culture knows a lot about. The casting is first-rate, perfect, the effects are quite satisfying, and the story is not overly dense or insider-ish while still respecting the source material and never sacrificing entertainment value.

Why three and a half stars then, and not four? Again, while the story is entertaining and well-crafted, the actors all up to their tasks, and the movie overall is fast-paced and fun, I did want just a little more density or substance.

I would have liked to see a number of more sequences about the childhoods of the main characters, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy), a bit more embellishment on the future presented and especially a bit more of a wide sweep on Vulcan, the planet, the people and the culture. Quibbling? Maybe. The film is still well worth watching, and highly enjoyable.

The film opens as the starship Kelvin encounters a large Romulan ship, which immediately begins a devastating attack. Our Captain James T. Kirk's father George is in command while the captain of the Kelvin beams aboard the Romulan ship to negotiate terms. Meanwhile, George's wife is about to give birth to our hero as the crew and civilians evacuate the ship.

Some interesting treatment of Kirk and Spock's childhood follows, then a contretemps between them at the Starfleet Academy and an all-hands-required emergency on Vulcan lead them into their first space service and further conflicts, and the beginnings of their eventual friendship and partnership. It's a tribute, in a way, to the overarching story, and the familiarity of the characters, that more of this isn't exactly needed, even if it would have been fun and interesting to see.

To compliment the casting again, Pine (Bottle Shock) is a great choice for Kirk and Quinto ("Heroes") is an inspired selection to play the young Spock. Other familiar cast members from the original television series are filled in well with Zoe Saldana particularly effective as Uhura, John Cho solid as Sulu, Anton Yelchin entertaining if underused as Ensign Chekov, and Simon Pegg funny and also solid as a late-arriving Scotty.

The design of the plot, which I won't reveal here, but which is actually a staple of probably all the various incarnations of the Star Trek universe, allows original cast member Leonard Nimoy to reprise his role, almost (but not quite) as the new Spock's father figure, and a memorable and well-done handoff between Nimoy and Quinto is accomplished.

Bruce Greenwood also acquits himself well as the captain of the Enterprise and Kirk's mentor, and Karl Urban is memorably cranky, odd and surprisingly original for such a well-worn, if not clichéd character, as Dr. McCoy. Eric Bana, as the revenge-bent Romulan Captain Nero, is as effective as I've ever seen him; this is a compliment in the way it's a compliment to say Helena Bonham Carter's performance in the Planet of the Apes remake was one of her most powerful. Their faces are largely obscured.

A must-see for Trekkies, Trekkers or even casual fans of any of the Star Trek franchises, this Star Trek is self-aware, funny, entertaining, full of action and suspense and a welcome kick-off to summer blockbuster season. It may be a bit too easy and comfortable, but then again if you're hoping to build on a franchise, some comfort level is definitely required. You can like it if you're a Star Trek nerd or buff, or a relative newcomer to Gene Roddenberry's enduring characters and mythology. It's a great time at the movies, and great news for further adventures of the starship Enterprise.

5-14-09


Links for Star Trek

Internet Movie Database Entry

Roger Ebert Review

Official Site

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