|Star Trek (2009)|
|Theatrical Movie Reviews Theatrical|
|Written by Daniel Hirshleifer|
|Wednesday, 06 May 2009|
I don't even know where to begin. Star Trek has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. First catching repeat episodes of the original series on backwater TV stations, I initially thought the show was silly. And then came The Next Generation, and I got it. Going back, I discovered the feature films, both the good and the bad. But more importantly, I came to love the characters that populated the universe. Kirk, Spock, McCoy. Picard, Data, Riker, Worf and Uhura. These were people (and aliens) that I knew and loved. Their adventures may not always be great (I still find The Motion Picture to be insufferably slow), but they were always larger than life and memorable. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, Star Trek was riding high, and the possibilities seemed endless.
So you might find it surprising when I say that the new Star Trek film is one of the best in the entire series. In fact, more than that, it's one of the most fresh, exciting, and lively films I've seen in a long time. Paramount, faced with declining revenue from Star Trek titles, let the franchise rest for a while. In that time, they revived an idea that had been kicking around since Star Trek II: A prequel that reveals how Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew met at Starfleet Academy. To realize this idea, they brought in TV guru J.J. Abrams, last seen behind the camera directing the surprisingly solid Mission: Impossible III. Abrams, not much of a Trek fan, made it his priority to tell a story that anyone could relate to, while still giving a nod to the Trekkers who kept the series alive all these years. The result is even better than any of us could have imagined.
There's a lot more going on in Star Trek than I could or should divulge. Suffice it to say that the story, while a little dense at times, is the perfect setup for this new, alternate timeline. Yes, that is correct. This movie does NOT take place prior to the original series. It takes place beside it, if you will, sitting comfortably in a "What if?" scenario that allows Abrams and his writers to take liberties that they never could have otherwise. But while the details may have changed, the spirit has not. In fact, this film feels more like Star Trek than the last two TV shows ever did. To watch this film must have been what it felt like to see The Wrath of Khan upon its original release. The movie is bold, exciting, and makes you care about these characters all over again. Abrams directs the piece with a sure hand that is miles above any project he has ever worked on before.
The film is full of goosebump moments. When the Enterprise first appears on screen, goosebumps. When Kirk takes the captain's chair, goosebumps. When the Enterprise rushes in to save the day, goosebumps! In addition, there is an important cameo by an original cast member (you probably already know who it is, but I won't be the one to spoil it in case you don't) whose appearance makes the whole film ring true. Make no bones about it, this is Star Trek down to its core. It's not entirely perfect. Nero isn't an especially interesting villain. I wouldn't say the film grinds to a halt when he's on screen, but I never cared about him the way I did Khan or General Chang. The ship physics feel more like Star Wars than Star Trek, but a change like that was an inevitable concession to summer blockbuster audiences. However, neither should be so much of an issue as to take you out of the movie for one second.
J.J. Abrams has truly performed a miraculous hat trick. To turn such a thoroughly beaten down franchise into something interesting and new is no mean feat. The fact that he did so means a new start for Star Trek and for the first time in a long time, the possibilities once again do seem truly endless. Or, to put it in Trekkie, Abrams puts us on course to boldly go where no one has gone before.