It’s no secret that I’m something of a “Star Trek” fan, and I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since the first few images started coming out over year ago. Well, the day finally arrived and I saw it last night at 10:00 on a glorious IMAX screen…and lemme tell you, that’s a heckuva way to see it for the first time… 🙂
Basically, for those that don’t know, the story to the new movie is a prequel that goes back to the first voyage of the Enterprise, and how the “gang gets together.” In many ways, this movie actually mirrors the first feature film, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in that the majority of the movie is spent getting everyone together to combat some evil that’s going to destroy Earth. The villain, Nero (Eric Bana), is good in his role, but it actually seems that he’s something of a minor character: someone that’s only in the movie to serve as a reason to get this origin story completed (as opposed to “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” where it was much more of a personal interaction between the crew and a particular villain). Don’t get me wrong: Eric Bana does an excellent job, but he may have been a touch underutilized.
But I digress. J.J. Abrams has put together a “Dream Team” of sorts to put together a compelling story that tells the tale of the Enterprise’s first mission. In particular, the back story of Spock and Kirk, their first meeting, and how they came to respect each other and solidify a friendship that would last 3 television seasons and over 6 films. The actors given these iconic roles pulled off the task admirably, making me forget entirely that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy weren’t the primary players in these roles (although, Nimoy does play Spock in the movie…). It’s said that Chris Pine (who plays Kirk) hadn’t really watched much “Star Trek” before being given the role, and it probably did him well because he made Kirk his own character: one where we could see a glimpse of what Shatner did for 3 decades, but something fresh and new. Zachary Quinto (who plays Spock) pulled it off beautifully, to the point where I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking on that mantle.
As the previews suggest, the effects are nothing short of spectacular. ILM did them this time around (they haven’t since, like, Star Trek: First Contact) and it really shows: I knew it was all CGI, but at the same time, it looked real enough that I was completely immersed in the experience. The ship battles were reminiscent of the new “Battlestar Galactica,” with much closer those of the ships, making things seem quite a bit more chaotic than in traditional “Star Trek” shows and movies. Personally, I find this to be a welcome change.
The movie was also genuinely funny. Not that it was trying to hard (as some lines from the Next Generation movies seemed to be…), but actually laugh-out-loud hilarious. The required “I’m a doctor, not a physicist” and “I’m not sure she can take anymore, Captain!” lines were in there, as well, and the audience cheered each time. The interactions between Bones (played by Karl Urban), Spock and Kirk made me think [DeForest] Kelley, Nimoy and Shatner were delivering them – the delivery, and the writing, were that “spot on.”
Another aspect I liked about the movie was the sense of scale. Because of all those close-up shots of the ship, you got the impression that these things were huge. We didn’t see much of the interior of the ship, besides the bridge, the hallways, and sick bay, but engineering is the one that stands out as getting a massive overhaul. Rather than a room with a blue-ish warp core in the center, now we’ve got a sprawling, factory-like room full of knobs, bells, whistles, etc. You know, like a modern aircraft carrier would have. It just seems a bit more realistic that a room of that size would be required to actually run a star ship.
The thing fans will have to wrestle with is the complete re-writing of “future history,” in that this movie essentially turns Star Trek Canon upon its head. I’m not really sure how else the movie could have been done, personally, so it doesn’t bother me so much. They do address the change(s) in the movie, suggesting “alternate realities,” etc. If you see it, and know anything about Star Trek, you’ll know what I mean…
In summary: the movie is badass. Go see it. I don’t care if you don’t like Star Trek or not. It’s just that good of a movie.
Think of it this way: “The Dark Knight” got a 94% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (out of 264 reviews) and “Star Trek” is currently sitting at 96% (out of 219 reviews). Whether you like science fiction or not, it’s a great movie and a great re-imagining of the franchise.