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Star Trek (2009)

-Review by Nic Brown-

The STAR TREK franchise has been around for over forty years. Since the show originally aired back in the 1960s, there have been many different incarnations of it: five television series, ten feature films, countless novelizations, comics and even a cartoon series. The story was starting to lose its appeal. The last two films were box office disappointments and the final television series, Enterprise, was cancelled after only four seasons due to poor ratings. Many said that the franchise was done. No one bothered to mention that to writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and director JJ Abrams. Together, they have breathed new life not just into the series, but into many of the characters from the original show with their new film.


Set before the events of the original series, starting on the day of future captain James T. Kirk’s birth, the film tells the story of how Kirk came to be a part of Starfleet, and explores the origins of many of the show’s iconic characters as they are brought together aboard the Enterprise to face a menace that, as always, threatens to destroy the Federation.


The filmmakers faced a formidable challenge: taking the classic characters of the original STAR TREK series and updating them for today’s audiences, without destroying their essence. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Scotty, and the rest are all stalwarts in the sci-fi world, and it is no easy task to try and find actors to play them in a way that not only honors the spirit of the original characters but also brings new twists to the roles.


Actor Chris Pine has perhaps the biggest shoes, or captain’s chair, to fill as he plays a young James T. Kirk. Pine manages to combine Kirk’s brilliant aptitude for Starfleet command with his legendary cavalier attitude about both regulations and danger. Pine’s performance, while not the best of the ensemble cast, definitely does justice to to the role made famous by William Shatner.


Karl Urban (LORD OF THE RINGS) plays Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Urban was a surprisingly good casting choice for the ship’s doctor, managing to capture the character’s rough, abrasive nature both in his delivery and in his body language, successfully mimicking many of the expressions Bones was known for.


Actor Simon Pegg went the other way with his portrayal of Mr. Scott. Only the character’s Scottish accent seemed to carry over to the new version, but this was not a detriment to the film; rather it lent itself to the movie’s ability to stand apart from the original.


Perhaps the most inspired piece of casting was Zachary Quinto (TV’s HEROES). Quinto plays a young Spock, the emotionally repressed half Vulcan, half Human first officer. Quinto manages to maintain the cold detachment and logic of the character while still conveying the feelings that lurk beneath the surface. Of course at times those feelings do break through, and that is when Quinto shines, making his Spock as compelling as Leonard Nimoy’s original.


Characters are only one aspect of this film. The cinematography and special effects are superb as the audience is treated to fantastic space battles, alien worlds, black holes and supernovas. One scene of the Enterprise rising from concealment inside the rings of Saturn is breathtaking.


The film does falter somewhat with the story. STAR TREK purists will be upset by many of the inconsistencies from the way things happened in the known STAR TREK universe. The way the characters are all brought together at once, assuming senior posts on the ship by the film’s end, is a bit contrived. However, if one can accept the film’s premises that explain these differences, there is little to complain about with Abram’s interpretation of Gene Roddenbury’s original vision. So check out STAR TREK and don’t wait for it to come to DVD. Even the widest of the wide screens can’t compare to theatrical experience for this film.

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