Film Review – Star Trek (2009)
BOTTOM LINE: J.J. Abrams has successfully brought “Star Trek” back to life in this ambitious reboot of the classic franchise that simultaneously manages to remind us how great Star Trek is while making some very bold and welcome changes the franchise desperately needed.
THE GOOD: As a franchise, “Star Trek” had been languishing in tired old material and looked dead in the water, largely thanks to regurgitated story lines and an unwillingness to take risks. Thankfully, director J.J. Abrams takes all the right risks to inject life in to the franchise, and from a story and execution standpoint, one cannot underestimate how bold and ambitious the risks Abrams has taken with this film. This film is a super-charged version of “Star Trek”; action-packed, big visuals, dramatic story points and great character moments. In essence, this is the first “Star Trek” film that has been afforded the resources to be a big event film, something which has not been attempted since the first 1979 film (which did not take advantage of those resources). The visuals are spectacular, the action is first rate and the world created finely detailed. All of this would be for naught if the characters were not up to scratch and for the most part they are. Chris Pine somehow manages to embody Captain Kirk without being William Shatner.
You see the character in him, just as with Zachary Quinto as Spock, although in this case, his physical resemblance is extraordinary. Karl Urban is perhaps the most successful as Dr. McCoy, managing to create some of the great touches that made this character so loveable by the late DeForest Kelley. Leonard Nimoy’s inclusion as the elder Spock was a master-stroke, allowing for a continuation from the old series; the writers cleverly used his character in a scenario that allows this film to serve as both a sequel and a prequel at the same time, thereby avoiding the trap of adhering to the franchise’s continuity (and thus potentially disappointing hardcore fans). The one thing to appreciate the most however is that Abrams was clearly not afraid to allow big and devastating things to occur in the story starting with the destruction of Vulcan and its race, a pinnacle of the original series, at the hands of bad guy Romulan Nero (a very strong Eric Bana). In this story, anything goes, and that is precisely what this franchise needed; a sense of urgency and a lack of knowing what will happen to the fate of the characters and the story. “Star Trek” is finally refreshed and revitalised to boldly go in to the future where no franchise has gone before.
THE BAD: Although “Star Trek” is arguably the best film in the series, aside from “Wrath Of Khan”, there are some minor things that did not work through the reboot. First is Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov. He truly looks like he is not enjoying the performance he has to give, and for the most part, unlike the original Chekov, this character is annoying and silly. John Cho as Sulu is not particularly distinctive, largely because he is not given much to do apart from a big action scene. The musical score is another point of contention; it seems somewhat clumsy in comparison to the more elegant and classical pieces written for previous films, although the inclusion of the original theme music at the end of the film is welcome. Also, the fast-paced execution and over-use of jerky camera moves can be somewhat exhausting and is clearly geared towards the Gen-Y or teen male markets. Hopefully in future sequels the pace can be toned down at least in some areas to allow for the drama to unfold more organically rather than as an impressive piece of fast editing.
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