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STAR TREK (2009) ***1/2 movie review by COOP

Posted on May 11th, 2009
Posted on May 11th, 2009


When I learned of the existence of this franchise reboot, I was fraught with a wide range of emotions (and I wasn’t the only one). At first I hated the idea of a new “Star Trek” retreading old territory with a new cast. Finally after some outstanding trailers and overwhelmingly positive advanced word, I started getting my hopes up. After viewing it, I have mixed feelings about the end result. While it makes for a terrific summer action flick, it’s a sloppy “Star Trek” film.

In the 23rd century, the U.S.S. Kelvin investigates an anomaly in space which turns out to be a massive, hostile Romulan ship from the future of “The Next Generation” era. The alien ship attacks the Kelvin and kills the captain, leaving George Kirk in command. He orders a ship wide evacuation and sacrifices himself and the ship to save his crew, his wife and his unborn son, Jim. 25 years later, Jim has become an impulsive, rebellious punk. After an altercation with some Starfleet cadets, Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) challenges Jim to follow in his father’s heroic footsteps and join up. Kirk reluctantly accepts the challenge and thus begins an alternate version of the most legendary saga of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

What you need to know about this variation of “Star Trek” is that the vengeful Romulans, lead by Nero (Eric Bana) have gone back in time, fouled up history and now the original crew of the Enterprise must start all over. Since the future for them is now uncertain, this allows for the franchise to either repeat familiar storylines with the new cast or go on completely new adventures, discounting the original series and every franchise permutation that came after it.

As a “Star Trek” fan, I could nitpick this film to death with all its inaccuracies, massive plot holes, ridiculous coincidences and reliance on “deus ex machina” as a plot device. Since most of you are undoubtedly non-fans, you’re in luck. This film was designed for you. It’s a fast-paced rollercoaster ride with far above-par special effects, a capable cast and a digestible story. I would even say the opening 15 minutes is about a perfect as a sci-fi film can get.

For the most part, the new cast does the old one justice. Quinto nails Spock and gives him a depth never before seen in the character. Karl Urban owns his performance as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and his introduction is by far the best of the lot. The others get more character development than usual but not enough to fully satisfy. Zoe Saldana as Uhura receives more attention than she deserves but her story arc with a certain character gives the plot some added dimension. Regrettably, the weakest link is Chris Pine who couldn’t quite fill the big shoes of William Shatner as Kirk. He comes across as a bully and a brat rather than the powerful leader he’s destined to become. His brash actions usually justify the punishments he receives and his immediate rise to captain seems ludicrous… but that’s mostly a plotting issue.

Speaking of the plot, I understand that director J.J. Abrams blames the recent Writer’s Guild strike for the massive plot holes in the story. I find that hard to swallow considering an appeal to mere common sense could have cleared up most of the problems in the story. Nero’s background and motivation for destroying the Earth were apparently told in a limited-run comic book. Too bad that I didn’t read it because I could’ve really used a more complete explanation. Ditto for the unbelievable coincidences helping the heroes along: Aimlessly falling into the correct situation at precisely the correct time (every time), characters appearing magically to save the day, the same crew assembling on the Enterprise despite 25 years of conflicting history… etc. It would appear that the idea of destiny and prophecy plays a big part in this version of “Trek,” something that conflicts with much of its previous philosophy.

Not sure why they dropped the ball on the music either. Instead of creating a new, iconic score or updating an old one, they came up with something generic with a lot of low brass that would sound more appropriate in a Godzilla movie.

Including the larger problems, I could go on all day about the minor ones; like why phaser beams still move slower than bullets and why Leonard Nimoy’s version of Spock seems to have jettisoned logic for mysticism (yep, he’s in it but to explain why would take too long). Besides all that, J.J. Abrams has created a spectacle film that harkens back to the grandeur of the staple blockbusters from the 1980’s. While this film simply sets up the future adventures of the revamped Enterprise, I expect the sequels won’t suffer from the same logistical problems as the first.

Now the big question… Will the filmmakers rework some of the old existing storylines or create brand new ones?

Trailer HERE…

Rating: 3 and ½ out of 5 stars

-Coop

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