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Movie Review: Star Trek (2009) May 8, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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Today I took some time out of my busy study schedule to go check out the new Star Trek movie.  Some call it the new JJ Abrams movie.  You know, the one everybody’s talking about.

Just a disclaimer: I’ve never been a Star Trek fan, never seen an episode of the TV show, and only saw one of the films (I can’t even remember which one – perhaps First Contact or Nemesis – and I can’t remember a single thing about it).  Like most normal people though, I have heard of some of the catchphrases and I know of Kirk, Spock (including his ears and hand gesture) and Scotty, but that’s the extent of my Star Trek knowledge.

And so, I went into the movie relatively optimistic but unsure of what to expect.  I came out of the film raving about it.  Honestly, it blew my mind!

The new Star Trek is what has been called a ‘reboot’ (kind of like the new Batman films with Christian Bale) that explores the origins of its two most famous characters, Captain James T Kirk and his pointy-eared Vulcan friend, Spock.  It’s also considered a ‘prequel’ that sets the foundation for a whole new series of films.  With the exception of one person, the film sports an all-new cast that is fresh, young and brimming with vitality.

As per my usual review code of conduct, I won’t give away the plot, and honestly, I don’t even know if I could explain it even if I wanted to.  There’s a fair bit of what I assume is ‘Trekkie’ jargon (but it could also be basic science stuff) that went right over my head and the film didn’t exactly take its time to explain everything in detail.  But it’s not hard to figure out the basic premise of the storyline and what is going on.

In any case, the story, while interesting in its own right, is not the strength of the film.  The strength lies in the way in which director JJ Abrams (the genius that created Alias, Lost and Fringe and produced Cloverfield) has reinvigorated the franchise with freshness, excitement and enthusiasm. You don’t have to be a Trekkie to enjoy this movie.  Star Trek WAS, for the most part, seen as a thing for die-hard fans and sci-fi geeks only.  One of the reasons I never got into it in the first place was because it seemed old and out-dated (despite being set in the future!), and the world it created was so extensive (with so many series, movies and novels) that I couldn’t be bothered making the effort to get to know it.  This film has provided the perfect spark to inject some much-needed life back into the franchise, and because it’s set right at the beginning, newbies to Star Trek (like me) can be eased into its world.

Abrams has inserted his unique directorial style and visual flair to the film.  Fans of his other works can probably spot the best elements of Lost and Fringe somewhere in there.  The new franchise players, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto were knockouts. Pine delivered a scruffy yet charismatic Kirk, brash and arrogant but a born leader, whereas Quinto showed he could be much more than a psychopath killer (what happened to Sylar’s eyebrows?!), inhabiting the character of Spock.  The supporting cast is also great.  John Cho managed to leave Harold (of Harold and Kumar fame) behind, and Simon Pegg stole the show as Scotty.  Guys like Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin were also solid.

The film was action-packed right from the start and didn’t let up.  It also had just the right dash of humor.  As for the special effects – I didn’t really notice it that much because I expected to see space ships and lasers flying through space – but I suppose that means they did an excellent job of it by not allowing the effects to overwhelm the film.

There were only two weaknesses I could point out.  The first was probably the antagonist played by Eric Bana  (almost unrecognisable in heavy make-up), which I felt wasn’t really terrifying or imposing enough.  It wasn’t really his fault though because the focus of the film was firmly on the young Kirk and Spock.  The second was some of the action sequences, which still relied too heavily on the rapid cut scenes.

On the whole, however, the new Star Trek was fantastic.  I’m sure old Trekkies will enjoy it, as will those who simply like to watch a fun, exciting movie.  Despite its significant running length (126 minutes), I was left wanting more by the time the credits began rolling.

I’m not going to rush out to buy the series on DVD any time soon, but I’m glad to hear that this film could be the first of many.  Bring on the sequels!

4.5 stars out of 5

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Comments»

1. misssstacey - May 8, 2009

Okay… so I just read your review… and im pretty sure you were listening into my conversation to convince someone to go see this movie with me. I was the same the only star trek I have ever seen was like one ep of classic and a couple other randoms accross the other series’ never seen anything else and just knew the catch phrases etc. This movie was redonkulously awesome!!!!! The other scary thing about you review is that you compared it to the likings of them rebooting start trek just like they did with Christian Bale in the new batmans… I said that EXACT line to Steve when I was trying to convince him to see it with me (PS – he went with me and loved it too HAHA) So anyways… I enjoyed your review but I would appreciate you asking my permission before plagerising my conversations thank you very much!! :P hehehehe Have a great day hun!!

pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

Okay: (1) can I please have permission to plagerise your conversations? (2) Haha – yeah, I think a lot of people are in the same boat. Star Trek was too geeky, to vast to appreciate for most people…when I used to think of Star Trek an overweight Kirk played by Denny Crane in tights would spring into my mind. Now, thanks to the film, that image will be purged from my mind forever! (3) I liked your review too!

2. Nate - May 9, 2009

Hahaha, we both posted reviews of it using the same picture/poster and basically the same beginning, stating that we aren’t fans, never saw anything etc, etc and we gave the movie the same grade, guess great minds do think alike huh? Very funny.
Btw, I saw the hunt for gollum and posted a review of it. Have you watched the movie yet?

pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

Checking things out now!

3. Matthew Ho - May 9, 2009

i just have no interest in watching this movie – can’t bring myself to watch a star trek movie. maybe cause i feel its a) too geeky b) i’m loyal to the star wars franchise.

i have two gold tickets, so i might watch wolverine.

AND

may the force be with you!!!!!!!!!!

4. pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

Don’t be stoooooopid Matt – I’ve seen both movies and Star Trek kills Wolverine, though the latter was actually pretty good too. If you have TWO gold tickets, why not watch both?? If you must watch just one, then Star Trek is the one to see.

Really, do yourself a favour and watch Star Trek. Star Wars is a great franchise in its own right, but it has nothing to do with this! And it’s not geeky. The old stuff, maybe, but not this reboot.

BUT – if you go see Wolverine, remember to stick around until the end of the credits because there are 3 additional scenes. Unfortunately I didn’t know and walked out after the first one (who would have thought they’d have 3??)

5. Nate - May 9, 2009

Matt, Wolverine has it’s moments for sure but it’s nowhere near the awesomeness of Star Trek or even the Second X-Men movie for that matter.

Pace, there are 3 extra scenes after the credits but each reel only carries 1. Depending on where you go see it, everyone sees a different scene, You may get the Wolverine at a bar in Japan or you may get the Deadpool scene. I don’t know or have heard what the third one is about.
When I saw it, I got the Deadpool (sequel! sequel!) scene.

pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

What??? I thought they showed all 3! That’s brutal! Also very unfair. I got the one where Striker got pulled up and arrested.

6. Nate - May 9, 2009

No no no. The striker thing is in every print of the movie. The extra scenes are at the very end, after all the credits roll up. Just do like I do, whenever you go back to the theater, sneak into a screening and watch the extra scenes.

7. pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

Oh man! That means I didn’t see any of the endings!

8. Ratboy - May 13, 2010

oh boy,have you got it wrong.Never been a trekker surely shows.This is possibly the worst ST movie ever ever made.For a start i dont know how any one can understand the time line.Does nero travel back in time before or after he attacks the ship that baby kirk is on.?I f he attacks then goes back in time.In which point of time does he go back to.?because kirk woudnt even be born.If he goes back in time and then attacks,what is he doing while Kirks growing up?.Playing hoola hoops.
The plot is lame,unoriginal been much like like Nemisis.Yet another evil offshoot of the Romulans hell bent on destroying the federation,with yes another doomsday weapon.Even his ship looks similar to Chinzons,with its long appendages and spikey things coming out of it.
Details like loading spaceships with old forklift trucks,when antigrav machines have been invented.Whats the go there?.Kirk is way out of character when it comes to the ladys.In the original series he wouldnt even touch his lovely yeoman,so why on earth is he bonking on with a green alien.I am a bit of a trekker but not that hard core and i think that this movie sucks.
Like most movies they make these days,it concentrates to much on sex and glamour,and has no soul.

pacejmiller - May 13, 2010

Interesting. First person I’ve met that hated the movie! Trekkies included!

I don’t understand why the time travel makes no sense. I thought Nero had no choice about when he would travel to and it was pretty straight forward. But I can’t be bothered trying to remember it all.

By the way, isn’t it Trekkie as opposed to Trekker?

9. Ratboy - May 13, 2010

JJ Abrams couldnt direct his way out of a paper bag.


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