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DAS RE-BOOT

picture - Star Trek

Movie Review

by Emilio Rodriguez

published May 8, 2009

 

Star Trek

rated PG-13

now playing nationwide

 

The history of Star Trek on the big screen has primarily been one of a hit-or-miss nature.  Paramount is hedging its bets that pop culture wunderkind J.J. Abrams will spark renewed interest in its hallowed cash cow with number eleven.  There is a belief among fans of Trek that the even-numbered movies are superior to the odd-numbered ones (a belief which has turned out to be correct).  This is the entry, however, that breaks the mold. 

 

But first, a legal disclaimer: I am an unabashed Trekkie who absolutely relishes the halcyonic view of the future created by Gene Roddenberry way back in the 60s.  I have adored the Star Trek films that were good and abhorred the ones that were bad.  Therefore, I entered the theater with a great deal of trepidation.  Part of me wanted to see a film that would please even non-fans of the show; another part of me wanted to see something that would remain true to the spirit and integrity of the television franchise.  After all, with over 600 episodes aired between all of the various incarnations of Trek, there did exist an involved history.  The last thing I wanted to see was a hot director of the moment come in and run roughshod over that history, transforming it into something unrecognizable for the sake of a quick buck. 

 

picture - Star Trek

 

I am relieved to report that Mr. Abrams allayed all of my fears.  The new film, called simply Star Trek, is a true reboot of the series that simultaneously pays homage to the source material that it obviously reveres.  An origin story, it chronicles the initial assembly of the crew of the Enterprise and their maiden mission as a team.  Leonard Nimoy reprises his classic role of Spock, this time as a time traveler in the thick of things with the ubiquitous threat to Earth involved (those time travel episodes always did seem to cause trouble over the years).  Eric Bana plays the antagonist Nero, although, considering that the focus is decidedly on the Enterprise crew and how they met, it was a somewhat nondescript role that could have been played by anyone.  (No offense to Mr. Bana, a fine actor; all he had to work with was the ubiquitous desire for revenge – and haven’t we all had that?) 

 

Casting new actors into iconic roles can be a recipe for disaster; however, the choices made by Mr. Abrams & Co. shine on the screen.  Christopher Pine is excellent (and most importantly, believable) as the young James Tiberius Kirk in search of himself.  The biggest compliment that I can possibly pay to Zachary Quinto as Spock is that he became Spock for me, even with Mr. Nimoy in the same movie playing the same character (albeit older and wiser).  Karl Urban as Leonard “Bones” McCoy seemed to channel the very spirit of his predecessor, DeForest Kelley.  In that much of the original show centered around the relationship between this Holy Trinity of Trek, it was essential to cast actors who would be able to access the chemistry that would eventually develop between them.  Zoë Saldana is sleek and sexy as a “modern day” Uhura.  It was gratifying to see and learn more of her character, as it was whenever the older movies employed more of Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura.  The rest of the crew was filled out nicely by Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) (though at times, Scotty and Chekov would gravitate towards the comic relief end of the spectrum).  They’re all particularly admirable considering the challenge and burden of replacing giants of pop culture. 

 

picture - Star Trek

 

Well-deserved adulation goes out to screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman  for giving Nimoy’s role some real meat, and not just cashing in on hearing him say “live long and prosper” one more time.  They also picked up on an obscure thread of a possible romance between Uhura and Spock (originating in “The Man Trap,” which was the first broadcast episode for those of you keeping score).  That they went to this length to mine ideas demonstrates the degree of preparation and care that went into this latest undertaking.  The script even manages to turn the time travel aspect into a true reboot that makes sense, enabling Paramount to take this glossy reimagining and run with it in all manner of directions.  And did I also mention that the spaceship battles are downright unparalleled?  Paramount took a big chance handing over the reins of the franchise to Mr. Abrams, but sometimes a risk actually pans out.  That’s certainly the case with this Trek.  If you prefer your outer space adventures to be lavish, detail-oriented and fully-digested creations, then you can safely enter the theater with no fear of disappointment.  Rest assured, with this installment you can just sit back and enjoy.   

 

emiliorodriguez @ stageandcinema.com

 

read the review of Star Trek by Kevin Bowen

 

 

 
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