Star Trek: Boldly Going in a Brilliant Direction

While leaving the theater after seeing JJ Abrams’ fantastic reboot of the Star Trek series, my mind was reeling from one specific aspect of the movie that blew me away. It wasn’t the perfect performances or the truly fantastic special effects, though some will leave singlehandedly stunned at those traits. It was the sheer brilliance of the conceptualization of the film– it manages to be an origin film AND a sequel, a film perfectly within the canon of the old Star Trek films while totally unrestricted to explore the characters in new and different ways than before. In short, it maintains everything the old Trekkies should love, while making it feel brand new in order to make it more accessible to those turned off to the previous Trek films/TV series. Although it probably won’t be the most action-packed film of the summer or the most genius script we could have encountered, I can’t imagine a film this summer that will be more clever and inventive– it’s great execution of a flawless conceit.

Without revealing too much of the plot, I will tell you we begin with Nero (Eric Bana, who has perfected his American accent) attacking a Federation spacecraft– on board this craft are George Kirk and his wife, delivering birth to a boy. This boy grows up to be James (Chris Pine, in a star-making role). We also meet a young boy, half-Vulcan and half-human, who struggles with which side to embrace upon aging. Upon maturation, he chooses to enlist in Starfleet. This is Spock (Zac Quinto). We meet all of the characters along the way, including Uhuru (Zoe Saldana), McCoy (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (Simon Pegg). To reveal any more of the plot would be to deprive you of how these characters meet, how they assume their roles, and how the plot unfolds itself.

What can I say? JJ Abrams, who I was unconvinced could direct a movie of this scope without making it simply seem like a long television episode– which is what I felt about Mission: Impossible 3, his first big screen effort– goes for big, ambitious, and iconic imagery and performances, and he hits a grand slam. The special effects are all enormously successful, and they all take place in well-lit settings, making it easy in theory to see the seams… but not one trace of shoddy CGI is detectable. The performances are all spot-on– it’s impossible to single out one person in particular. Urban gives the performance most like the original, but the hardest roles clearly belong to Pine and Quinto. They manage to capture the essence of the originals while giving their own spin. It keeps the film reverent without slipping into mimicry. Finally, I must say the score by Michael Giacchino, who is quickly emerging as one of the best composers of film and TV working today, is sensational and might be his very best to date.

I would urge most of you, especially Trekkies, to NOT read any reviews of the film, as they might give away some crucial plot details which would reveal the brilliant way it laces the new takes on the characters into the old canon. I hadn’t read a thing, as I try not to, and was taken aback at every twist. Abrams knows the audiences going to this film will be smart and refuses to kow-tow and spell things out for us, letting us draw our own conclusions at the little hints he drops about how things will unfold along the way. The science of this film may not be exactly sound– okay, it isn’t in any way, shape or form– but I don’t think this breaks with the way science was treated in the original series at all. The spirit of the thing, the essence of the original vision, is what is restored and invigorated here. When the originators of this concept realized the goldmine they had, I can only imagine their giddiness. I was giddy leaving the theater as a science-fiction fan. Gene Roddenberry originally had his characters boldly go where no man had gone before. Now, here they go again into unknown territory, just as boldly as before. If this cast and creative team sticks around, you’re looking at a resurgence of Star Trek’s popularity in a way no one could possibly have imagined.

Note: This is playing at IMAX theaters around the nation. With its level of special effect magnitude and number of thrills per minute, I recommend seeing it there if possible.

~ by russellhainline on May 8, 2009.

13 Responses to “Star Trek: Boldly Going in a Brilliant Direction”

  1. Negative X-men review? Positive Star Trek review? Sounds like you’re just trying to do whatever you can to win that bet…

    • HA! The buzz about both films is why I made the bet. And the buzz was very right.

  2. Star Trek was GREAT!


    Mwa ha ha. Thanks for visiting the blog!

  4. I thought it was great. Strong acting in the lead roles for such young actors. Good villain in Eric Bana. The action sequences, and suspense, were incredible. It gets a bit schmaltzy at the end, but that’s about the only negative comment I can think of for this highly enjoyable flick.

  5. I can’t begin to explain how awesome this movie was. Your review is right on the money with this one.

  6. this new Star Trek is so much fun, especially after what a letdown Wolverine ended up being; the new Capt. Kirk is a lot more more believable as a leader-type than William Shatner

  7. I really loved the film, didn’t think I would, but it was such great fun. They all filled the boots of the characters with aplomb, and then end had that old Star Trek magic. Excellent!

  8. […] the Wild Things Are 6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 5. Knowing 4. 2012 3. District 9 2. Star Trek 1. […]

  9. […] killer (his brother in the film? None other than Chris Pine, who went on to be Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek film), and shows more of his trademark intensity and insanity. Nestor Carbonelli also plays a […]

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