Review: Finally an Enterprise I can get on board with
I wouldn’t classify myself as a Trekkie. Far from it. I don’t speak Klingon, phasers seem like fancy remote controls and my fingers don’t separate properly to form the Vulcan symbol for peace.
Nevertheless, after buying into the pre-release hype of the $140-million Star Trek I ventured into the abyss that is opening weekend of a summer blockbuster. Directed by J.J. Abrams, creator of the greatest show in the last decade of television Lost, and written by Robert Orci and Damon Lindelof, Star Trek is a prequel to the legendary series of the ’60s.
The plot follows the initial formation of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, most notably James T. Kirk and Spock, everyone’s favourite pointy-eared Vulcan. Christopher Pine (The Princess Diaries 2, Smokin’ Aces) and Zachary Quinto (who also stars as sadistic serial-killer Sylar on Heroes) replace William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Kirk and Spock, respectively (although Nimoy reprises his role as the older version of Spock in an important, yet somewhat contrived, plot point). Both leads performed admirably, however it is Pine who shines brightest, taking full advantage of the opportunity to play the legendary captain. His witty banter and stern confidence add a lighter layer to a film full of destruction and death.
Eric Bana (Troy, Munich) plays the ruthless villain Nero, a Romulan from the future who is hell-bent on avenging the loss of his lover by destroying as many planets as possible. To me, the Romulan adversaries could have used a great deal more character development, however, taking into account the fact that Paramount Pictures is attempting to reignite the Star Trek franchise, which could result in big dollars from a trilogy of films, it is easy to see why most of the personal revelations stay on-board the Enterprise.
My biggest concern coming in was the supporting cast choices, most notably John Cho as Sulu, best known for getting stoned in the Harold & Kumar series, and Simon Pegg as Scotty, who is most recognizable from the hilarious, yet utterly ridiculous, films Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. I felt these choices reflected the producers not taking this re-imagined film seriously enough and was worried their slapstick tendencies would interfere with the serious tone the film seemed to be going for. I was proven dead wrong, as although both characters have their share of corny moments they both play an integral role in the plot and help break up the monotony of the tense scenes aboard the Enterprise; Cho in particular kicks some major butt with a sword in the movie’s coolest action sequence.
The casting choices across the board proved to be effective, yet, it is the special effects and pacing of the film that create the most appeal. Whether you like Abrams or not, there is no denying that the man is an artist behind the lens. Each scene is crafted carefully to provide a balance between the ambience of the entire galaxy and the focus on specific characters. During some of the movies most intense action sequences Abrams pulls out for a wide view and cuts the audio; a bold move no question but I found it effectively allows the viewer to relax their eyes for a moment before being thrust back into the action.
The entire movie clocked in at just over two hours, a far cry from many summer blockbusters that choose to flirt with the three-hour mark (Lord of the Rings I’m looking at you). The story is perhaps best described as a rollercoaster, rarely lagging but still constantly building towards a climax. A few plot holes do exist, however if you are able to move past these the script was drafted with pure non-stop fun in mind and Orci and Kurtzman pull it off very nicely.
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The new Star Trek does stray a great deal from what little I have seen of the past series in terms of pacing and tone, however the characters and plot stay relatively true to Gene Roddenberry’s initial concept. Having said that, the movie was not enough to convince me to go back and watch the other 25 years of Trekkie goodness.
Overall, this non-Trekkie was left pleasantly surprised by a movie that I scoffed at as recently as one month ago. Look for talk of a potential sequel to flood the Internet right away. Surely Abrams and company will be likely be willing to take viewers “where no man has gone before,” for many years to come.