Thursday, May 7, 2009

Star Trek (2009)

Movie quotes:
”I like this ship! It's exciting!”
- Scotty (Simon Pegg)

Kirk (Chris Pine): Are you afraid or aren't you?
Spock (Zachary Quinto): I will not allow you to lecture me.
Kirk: Then why don't you stop me?

"You've always had a hard time finding your place in this world, haven't you? Never knowing your true worth. You can settle for less in ordinary life, or do you feel like you were meant for something better? Something special."
- Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to James Kirk

"Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better. Enlist in Starfleet."
- Christopher Pike to James Kirk

McCoy (Karl Urban): We've got no Captain and no First Officer to replace him.
Kirk: Yeah, we do.

At a glance:
Director J. J. Abrams rejuvenates the Star Trek franchise with a vibrant, supercharged, action-oriented story that still holds respect for Trek history, and finds time for resonant character interaction

Our review:
(SPOILERS follow) A Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) witnesses the total annihilation of his home planet by a supernova, and is thrown into a frenzy of anger directed at Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) whom he deems at fault for not acting qiockly enough to avert the disaster. Rifted back in time (along with Spock), he focuses solely on revenge; standing in his way is Spock’s younger self (Zachary Quinto) and Spock’s new commanding officer, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine).

This is J. J. Abrams’ frenetic, high budget, high volume, almost pure action reinvention of the Star Trek universe, cleverly constructed in an alternate timeline, so as to avoid any attacks against its continuity and adherence to canon. Co-written by Robert Orci (an admitted Trekker) and Alex Kurtzman, the script and story is well-structured to provide plenty of moments of heroism and redemption, with occasional dips into light humor. Abrams went for a very claustrophobic direction style, and probably too many beatings of Kirk, but, overall, the direction adds to the movement and excitement.

I’ll leave a more detailed critique of the special effects to those who focus more on these things; for me, the money spent was evident, and the earth-based effects were good, but I found most of the space-based effects to be too dark and muddled for my taste.

I tend to relate to the character moments, anyway; these are in the minority, but the ones that are there are effective, and true to the known history of the characters. Spock and Kirk are the focus; the remaining cast gets much smaller parts, although, gratefully, each has a crucial role to play. Eric Bana is suitably evil as the villain Nero; there’s good supporting work by Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Pike, whose commanding voice lends credence to even such far-fetched plot points as appointing a disbanded cadet as First Officer based almost solely on his pedigree and potential. And while we’re on dodgy plot points, Kirk’s easy manipulation of Spock’s anger felt almost like an original series moment, except that, of course, it was an older version of Spock himself that suggested the strategy to Kirk, and who would know better. Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
“An epic adventure that deftly captures the spirit of the original series, while succeeding utterly in charting a new course.”
-Julian Roman (MovieWeb)

“The happy result is action-friendly, nerd-friendly, and fundamentally optimistic.”
-Carrie Rickey (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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