March 2, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Star Trek (2009)

Title: Star Trek
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Released: 2009 by Paramount Pictures
Genre: Science-Fiction; Action

As a little kid, television on Saturdays meant three things--Voltron, rasslin', and Star Trek. The first two I outgrew, but the adventures of the USS Enterprise, not so much.

I'm a Trekkie, but in a casual sense. I don't collect memorabilia, I don't attend conventions, and I definitely don't speak Klingon. I just have a long abiding appreciation for a fun and entertaining piece of television history. The Star Trek movies aren't without their charm, but when it came to the big screen, those films lacked the grandiose spectacle synonymous with sci-fi movies. Ya know ... they weren't Star Wars. Until now.

I might've expected the worst from J.J. Abrams--a director with no predating love for Star Trek and a seemingly frivolous approach to the franchise's history--but he has a pretty strong track record when it comes to original properties. So I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't troll the Trekkie--or is it Trekker?--message boards, but I can only imagine the seething and fervid protests aimed at Abrams' proposed re-imagining of Kirk, Spock, and all things Trek. The franchise has turned into gospel for many and everything is etched in stone. You. Don't. Mess. With Trek.

Visually, the movie is just short of breathtaking. The CGI brought the universe to life in a way that's never been achieved before with Roddenberry's work. It got a little heavy on the camera flare (watching the making of documentary), but without it quite a few scenes would have appeared sterile. The decision to keep the original starship uniforms was nice to see, and they pulled it off well, as Federation uniforms have a history of looking like pajamas.

In terms of story, it was a bit--well, maybe more than a bit--convoluted. The time travel aspect of the plot felt like it was there purely to justify the drastic shift in story and character direction ... and a Leonard Nimoy cameo. But hey, I'm easygoing when it comes to the alternate timeline stuff. If slapping a fresh coat of paint on the Enterprise means drastically shifting the way the Star Trek universe unfolds from here on out, I'm game. As long as the writing is good, I'm not going to get my Hanes in a twist because Spock and Uhura are romantically involved.

I thought the casting was very good Zachary Quinto as Spock and Carl Urban as McCoy were both spot on in my book. Simon Pegg did a respectable job as Scotty too. I even liked the guy who played Chekov. I heard some critics pan Chris Pine's version of Captain Kirk when the movie hit theaters, but I can't say I hated his performance or the way the character was presented. They could have certainly spent more time building Kirk from the ground up, but it's an action movie and you need to keep it moving. All said, just about every character complimented the performances of their predecessors, though it felt like Uhura had been completely overhauled. I chalk that up simply to the fact that Nichelle Nichols was never given much to do at all during the original series.

One bad piece of casting, however, was Winona Ryder as Spock's mother. I'm sorry, what? I haven't seen her in a film in years. Did J.J. Abrams owe her a favor or something? I digress.

This is a great popcorn movie, especially for anyone who liked or loved the old television show. What is in the works for the sequel, I don't dare guess. All I can say for sure is that this movie kicks the holy heck out of Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3 put together. Take that, George Lucas.


  1. I enjoyed this film immensely, but I'm with you - the one moment when I was thrown out of the film experience and back into my disbelief was when Winona Ryder showed up onscreen. That was a BAD decision. Otherwise, I considered it great fun and entertainment, and I'll be looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Exactly. Winona Ryder had her best performance in Girl Interrupted and it seems to have been downhill since. She needs to make a movie that will cause me to fall in love with her again ... not sully the silver screen as Spock's mama.