By Dave Campbell | May 6, 2009
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Eric Bana, Winona Ryder
We are first introduced to a rebellious and adventure seeking young boy named, James Tiberius Kirk. He was meant for something more which is apparent from an early age. He grew up in the cornfields of Iowa always pushing the limits of his independence. Kirk (Chris Pine) matures into a sharp, wayward, ladies man who ends up in a scuffle with Starfleet cadets in an Iowa bar when Captain Pike takes notice and an interest in him, finding out that Kirk is the son of the legendary Captain George Kirk and the only, “genius level repeat offender in the Midwest”. Pike dares Kirk to join Starfleet by saying, “Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better. Enlist in Starfleet.”
At the same time we meet a Vulcan boy Spock in the jagged cliffs of the harsh Vulcan desert who has conflict with acceptance in deciphering his identity being the only half Vulcan / half Human in his civilization. He must reconcile the Vulcan logic he was taught with the Human emotions he feels. Now a brilliant young man, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is torn between his mixed heritage, emotions he fights to control, and the two paths that lay before him. He must choose between the Vulcan world which will always judge him for being half human, or join the Starfleet Academy which is worlds away from the Vulcan life he has known.
The two end up at Starfleet Academy, where they begin to learn the ways of the United Federation of Planets. Kirk breaks all the boundaries of Starfleet’s rules and regulations, and masters/reprograms the famous Kobayashi Maru test. This leads to a disciplinary hearing for Kirk who is now brought before the test creator Mr Spock. News comes to the hearing that a mysterious Romulan mining vessel lead by the vengeful Nero (Eric Bana), has broken through the neutral zone and is attacking the planet Vulcan. Captain Pike leads a fresh crew on the newly christened Enterprise to intervene.
Along the way we meet familiar faces and future close friends Medical Officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy (“the awesome” Karl Urban), future Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg), Communications Officer Uhura (Zoë Saldana), experienced Helmsman Sulu (John Cho), and fresh faced whiz kid Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The Federation learns of the devastating Romulan plan to destroy planets, and their personal vendetta with Spock. The new crew must pull together and face the evil Romulan threat before it’s too late.
Star Trek kicks off in a way that is very familiar yet you know right away that it has also changed forever. Ultimately we are shown a story from two perspectives…Kirk and Spock, two completely different personalities brought together to lead a crew aboard the only ship that can save the galaxy. At no capacity have I ever been a Trekkie, but after seeing Star Trek I might be convinced to join the Starfleet.
I deliberately left out several plot points (ahem Nimoy) in my descriptions as I feel they are better left unspoiled for the screen. Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman managed to write story that is capable of fitting in as a sequel, a prequel, or a total reboot of the entire universe itself…which is pretty genius if you ask this guy. We are treated with faithful one liners, catch phrases, and cameos that give a heavy nod to the past but without looking back. This Star Trek charges forward with an enthusiasm and punch, something that the previous variations did not. Fight and action scenes have never looked so stylized or intense in tales of Star Trek past. The effects are breath taking-ly clean and the cinematography is slick, vibrant, and textured (I dig on lens flares).The scope of the movie is very large and the pacing is thoroughly entertaining.
Each cast member carries the history of their character on their shoulders while gracefully adding their own flavor with one exception – why have Winona Ryder play Spock’s mother? There are many great middle aged actresses with experienced chops that could have made this character much warmer and less awkward. Another issue for me was the lack of attention to the Romulans and their character backgrounds, most notably being Nero. The resource of Eric Bana as Nero was not used nearly enough for my liking and it felt a little bit like several of his scenes were cut down or cut out. We need to know him more, so J.J. if you’re reading, add those into the directors cut Blu-ray and DVD…OK thanks!
Overall, great care was taken at the hands of director/producer J.J. Abrams to pull this together and create such a satisfying outcome. He made all the right choices that George Lucas didn’t make with the Star Wars prequels. This take on the Star Trek story will likely gain a large additional population to the already massive fan base of this cherished pop culture phenomenon.Forget “may the force be with you”…Live long, and prosper.