BACK TO THE PAST OF THE
published May 8,
Lately I’ve been wanting a film that cones
out punching, that doesn’t dally, that just drops the audience into the middle of intense action and lets us swim for our ever-loving lives.
I’m talking about a movie that knows how to open a movie. The last one was The Dark Knight. Finally
I get my wish with JJ Abrams’ re-booted Star Trek.
A tentacled spaceship with overwhelming
firepower. A Star Fleet vessel limping and crumbling to pieces. Dozens of evacuating shuttles. And a baby being born. It’s the Odessa Steps at
warp speed. And we instantly know that this one is set for stun.
And that’s just the beginning, because what
we get is an exhilarating string of these things. What Abrams accomplishes is to rival Steven Spielberg’s capacity to stage wide-canvas action
scenes, dotting the screen with multiple thrillers taking place in multiple locations simultaneously. We shift among them with swiftness,
smoothness and ferocity.
So we go from a starship to high-speed
parachuting, to a swordfight on top of a mile-high drilling platform. We move from a single cockpit to a starship bridge to watching the
battle in slow motion from a million miles away, with spacecraft and torpedoes slowly charging across the eternal night. It’s awe-inspiring. I can’t say enough.
So let’s shower Abrams with praise. After
an over-hyped transition to the big screen, the Lost impresario finally delivers, re-charging what
appeared to be a dead franchise. Returning us to the iconic characters, times, and spirit of the original television series of the sixties,
the film invigorates the earliest adventure of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and the rest of the crew
of the Starship Enterprise.
The geek favorites meet at Star Fleet
Academy, but their friendships begin as petty rivalries. As cadets they are dispatched on a humanitarian mission to Vulcan aboard the newly
minted Enterprise. The humanitarian mission becomes a military emergency when they meet a heavily armed Romulan mining ship that has traveled
from the future through, yes, a temporal anomaly (which happens to be ideal for re-booting). It has come with a nasty captain (Eric Bana) and
a destructive plan. As the crew loses its veteran captain (the always steady Bruce Greenwood), the Enterprise bridge dissolves into
back-and-forth mutiny as the young officers squabble over what to do.
We can watch the generations roll by
through Star Trek. The original series operated with the Silent Generation’s enlightened
bureaucracy. In the spiritually sensitive Boomer era, the crew saved whales and sought peace, while the Next Generation provided an oligarchy
run by Up With People and the idea that humans are evolving into gods.
It took a while to dip into 90s style
sci-fi paranoia, ala Babylon 5 or The X-Files. It didn’t connect with Star Trek’s historically
earnest outlook. Star Trek really isn’t Star Trek with
Star Fleet officers hiding dark conspiracies and evil motives. The series had becomes moorless and passé.
Rebooted and reloaded, we now have a
Star Trek updated to modern action conventions – a crew of orphaned rebel-heroes whose wounded
pasts shadow their idealism. In this version, Kirk is the talented but unorthodox son of a dead space hero. Chris Pine, with the toughest
measure-up as the embryonic Captain Kirk, cruises with the cocky hamminess inherent in the role. Or inherent in William Shatner. Take your
To call the performers unknown is an
understatement. The only really famous person is Winona Ryder, in a small part. But for once Abrams’ don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful
casting doesn’t betray him. Only Karl Urban’s portrayal of Bones flips disturbingly between imitation and parody. Scotty is a parody deftly
steered into comic relief by Simon Pegg, who steals all of his scenes. Zoe Soldana gets to play Uhura as saucy, savvy and
Yet the bravest risk, and the greatest
reward, comes from the nearly unthinkable decision to put the film’s emotional center on the legendarily emotionless character. What started
as a one-episode gag 40 years ago – that Spock is half-human – fully fleshes to its completion. This Spock is prideful, ambitious, shy,
vulnerable, orderly, rebellious, an enigma to both of his worlds. The Spock we are given here is a human wanting to be a Vulcan. Wholly and
admirably, Quinto re-builds the Vulcan from the inside out. Is it too early to say that Quinto is a better Spock than Leonard
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com
read the review of Star
Trek by Emilio Rodriguez