2 hours, 6 minutes
See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!
The curse has been broken! It's common knowledge that, by and large, the odd numbered Star Trek films aren't the best of the bunch. If you're looking for a quality experience, instinct will lead you to the second and eighth films (Wrath of Khan and First Contact) before you dare lay a finger on the fifth, The Final Frontier. Fun fact: The Final Frontier stank up the summer of '89 so bad the studio was too embarrassed to release another summer Star Trek film...until now. Twenty years later, along come J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible III) and company with the eleventh (or first if you consider this a reboot) installment to shatter both those taboos.
How was such a feat accomplished? Simple. Abrams takes the common themes in the second and eighth films: vengeance and time travel. A Romulan mining vessel is pulled through a black hole after witnessing the destruction of the planet Romulus. Captain Nero (Eric Bana, Troy) blames Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek: Wrath of Khan) and immediately starts blowing shit up. From his first encounter, Nero learns they have been pulled back in time over one hundred and fifty years and begins plotting his revenge on Spock and the Federation. As Nero's plans come to fruition, Ensign James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, Smokin' Aces) is being questioned about his performance in the Kobayashi Maru, an unbeatable test designed by Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto, TV: Heroes).
Star Trek is such a success thanks to the action-packed, hectic-paced story. Pushing all the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff aside, the story progresses easily. Characters brush aside obstacles with only minor effort, much like the National Treasure franchise. The logistics are, at times, far-fetched and my uber-Trekkie friends tell me they fumble some of the history. I could have done without the Nokia-sponsored classic car joy ride and the Cloverfield-esque ice monster chase, but everyone's going to find something to nitpick this revered institution.
You'd just be a douche if you complained about the excellent casting. A better selection of actors couldn't have been chosen to revive Gene Roddenberry's beloved characters. While no one can match Shatner's ego, Pine has the charisma and swagger. Quinto's got that Vulcan look (when the prosthetics' edges aren't showing) and Zoe Saldana (Guess Who) rolls smart, sexy and sassy into Uhura. You can't beat Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) and his comedic timing as Scotty, though Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett) and John Cho (Smiley Face) are top contenders in their respective roles of Chekov and Sulu. When I heard DeForest Kelly's voice issue forth from Karl Urban (The Bourne Supremacy), that was a little bit freaky, but mostly fantastic!
Penning a story that would maintain the integrity of the original cast and timeline of Gene Roddenberry couldn't have been easy for Roberto Orci (Transformers) and Alex Kurtzman (The Island). The plot device utilized was a stroke of genius in my book. Though some aspects of the characters' history were altered, I appreciate that they remain largely unchanged. Adding in time-honored quips like "Dammit, Jim!" and "I'm giving her all she's got!" played especially well with the audience in my theater.
Abrams just keeps throwing the action at you. It feels like little more than five minutes go by before audiences are treated to another fight, explosion or shoot-out. But apparently, you can't bleed in space. I think I mentioned Saldana's sexiness, but she gets a little help in the gratuitous flesh department from her Orion roomate, Gaila (Rachel Nichols, Charlie Wilson's War).
The Money Shot
Star Trek was an exhilarating film that brings the blockbuster back into the franchise. While I enjoyed the abundant action, I advise they downshift gears for the next installment. Trying to convert this institution into a shallow, fluffy franchise may gain you twenty-five percent new viewership, but you'll quickly lose fifty to seventy-five percent of the Trekkies...and that is one group you don't want to cross! (This geek would love to see Klingons and Tribbles next go 'round!)
My Nerd-laden Nitpicks (Definite Spoilers)
I did have a few issues with the overall execution but here's three that I just can't go without mentioning:
1) I know Nero has been adrift in space for twenty-five years, but that doesn't explain how he conveniently knew he had killed Kirk's father on the U.S.S. Kelvin. It made for a great dramatic line, but crushed the believability.
2) I don't care in which reality you exist; an Ensign cannot magically rise to the rank of Captain just because Madea pins a medal on his uniform!
3) Newly-promoted Captain Kirk, not Spock Prime, should have spoken the monologue at the end of the film. Dammit, J.J.! That's the Captain's duty.
Thursday, May 14, 2009