You genuinely have to admire JJ Abrams these days. A man with his fingers in some of the most Zeitgeisty of pies he had his work cut out for him when he was asked to take on what has been known in Paramount Pictures for decades as, simply, “the franchise”. Not only did he take on the task asked of him, he did it in the hardest fashion possible.
Non-trekkies, bear with me for two paragraphs here.
Over four decades the Star Trek story has had such a lifespan it’s taken the original crew from small to big screen, been handed to a completely new Enterprise crew in Star Trek – The Next Generation, been shown on board space stations and entirely new ships (Deep Space 9 and the underrated Voyager) and even been taken back in time before for the short-lived series Enterprise.
The impossible task, and the one no-one in their right mind would have taken upon themselves, was to recast the original crew, some of the most iconic characters in science-fiction and start from scratch. Insanity. Nonsense. Impossible. If there’s one sense you get from Abrams it’s that he thinks nothing is impossible. And thus, it came to pass that he was going to recast the crew, reboot the franchise and start again. There are a thousand ways to get “young Star Trek” wrong, he’s gotten everything right.
I hate going into plot detail in reviews so I won’t, shy of telling you it tells the full story of the original Enterprise crew from Kirk’s birth and Spock’s childhood on Vulcan through the crew’s first flight as younguns on the maiden voyage of the Enterprise and their clash with Eric Bana’s Romulan bad guy Nero who wants to destroy yadda yadda yadda.
The script is fast, sharp and funny where it needs to be, the cast all young, sexy, dovetail nicely and have just the right amount of nod in their performances to the elder versions we all know so well without descending into parody. No surprise though that Zachary Quinto steals the show, as he does playing Sylar in Heroes. His Spock looks uncannily like Leonard Nimoy and he combines just the right amount of cold Vulcan and half-human passion witharched eyebrows in just the right places to make him stand pointy ears above everyone around him.
For fans, the references to the past are nice (the red suited member of the away team always dies, Bruce Greenwood plays Captain Christopher Pike – the original captain of the Enterprise in the pilot episode before Shatner was brought on board) but Abrams doesn’t allow that to tie his hands in any way; this is, after all, a new story we’venever seen on screen anywhere before even in the extensive history of the Star Trek universe. Damn right, too. He creates individual visuals (the starships being assembled in the Iowa flats, the surprisingly 20th century looking bars), creates new yet consistent backstories and uses Michael Giacchino’s incredibly catchy new score to great effect (it only incorporates the original Trek theme over the closing credits).
To be completely honest, as a fanboy of such things I’m always worried about going into screenings like this. The scenes I’d seen in London a few months ago were good, very good, but that was no guarantee the whole thing would stitch together and make any sense. Thankfully, as the party of four I was in came out of the screening the thought was all had in unison was “can we watch the sequel now?” You don’t need to have ever watched an episode of the show or seen a previous Trek movie to easily find this one of the most entertaining movies of 2009.
Reboots are an incredibly tough tightrope to walk. For every Batman Begins there are many Superman Returns littered along the roadside, Star Trek falls heavily into the former category. Not only that but it easily has the potential to break beyond the boundaries of “science fiction movie” into the upper stratosphere of genuine Summer popcorn blockbuster for the masses by the time the tills are totted up at the end of August.
Again, non-Trekkies, bear with me for the next 17 words.
JJ Abrams has taken the Kobayashi Maru test and come out with his commendation for original thinking.
For everyone else, he’s taken something sacred in pop culture and managed to create something entirely new and very cutting edge while keeping that which is important in the hearts of many since the mid-60s intact.
“The franchise” has genuinely been reborn.
EDIT *** WARNING ***
THERE ARE SPOILERS IN COMMENTS. AVOID IF YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW STUFF…
20 thoughts on “The Trekkie/Civillian Star Trek Movie Review”
Great review. Loving the Kobayashi Maru reference. * nods *
So it was good then ?
this gives me hope! i’ll go see it soon
i was excited before, but after hearing that rick. im almost bursting at the seems. i knew jj wouldnt disappoint but to what extent i wasnt sure. roll on the 8th of may 🙂 wohoo. if only i had a bird of prey to fly around the sun and travel to the 8th to see it now 😦
confession: I’m too lazy to read the review but I do love that motivational poster. It’s a classic.
Raised on a veritable feast of Apollo and Star Trek, I am thrilled, excited and proud to hear that the movie has received your seal of merit. I look forward to going boldly where MEN have gone before. To seek out new film,new fables. Let history forever remember the name.Enterprize!
[…] Rick’s review is here […]
Wow. Even ‘The Shat’ cheated on the Kobayashi Maru.
‘Can’t wait to see this. I feel jammier than you because I have yet to enjoy it… that’s a good way of looking at it, isn’t it? 🙂
I love you. I totally agree with you. Vulcan is gone, and I hate that… But regardless, I still cannot help but LOVE this movie.
Great science fiction movie, terrible Trek flick. The movie, by altering the timeline completely (from the moment Jim is born no less), it changes EVERYTHING! For Trekkies that means the entire future (and all the franchises except the last TV one) can’t happen. Why can’t they come up with a new series rather than destroying an old one.
I saw the movie last night and they reset the series in a way that will appease Trek fans and not confuse the general public too much. It was great.
rather than calling this new Star Trek a “reboot” they should call it “downloaded onto a far more sophisticated machine, edited, polished, then rebooted.”
just saw this movie and thought it was awesome! Absolutely perfect! I am not and never have been a fan of Star Trek in any way shape or form. in fact i knew virtually nothing of the franchise prior to watching this movie but i am a fan now. I thought the concept of the movie was excellent and the delivery was even better. They did not get too bogged down in space time continuum rifts which allowed the story to progress nicely. aime – they did not change the past enought to eliminate the history that has been told over the past 40 years at all. That was the beauty, they were able to keep the changes small enough that you could see the relationships continuing to form as they did in the original series and movies. The only difference would of course be any story line taking place on Vulcan as it is now destroyed. Anyway, this was a GREAT movie. My expectations were high ang it did not dissapoint, in fact, it exceeded my expectations. Go see it now!
Don’t want to appear as a basement dwelling Trekkie but Spock relieved himself of duty due to emotional instability! He is half human, not a reserved human being. Have you seen the movie or merely heard about the storyline?…Just curious. J.J. created something new but practically destroying the Vulcan concept in the process of creating something new. If I want to see an action packed thriller then Terminator is just fine but Star Trek I suppose is something some of us still hold as a concept that in the name of business should not be messed with. Then again, since it did well with the “public” and made money who but the Trekkies will care? Those nerdy Trekkies right? The world is nothing but commerce or at least with the human beings it is so.
I disagree with your statement that Zach steals the show. i agree with everything else, but I believe that they did a very good job at making Kirk(Chris Pine) the main character of the movie.
i must say that this was the best movie i have seen in a VERY long time and certainly the best of all the movies they are making out of my childhood (think about it; Transformers, Batman, Superman, X-Men, TMNT, Star Trek, and G. I. Joe. i feel like i’m 6 again). my brothers and i have gone to see it at least 3 times each. and i would think i’m going to go another 3 times before it’s out of theaters. i remember why i became a fan in the first place. Not that i ever forgot…
I just wanted to say what a great review. You caught the essence of the movie. I saw the movie for the second time last week and I dont think it will be the last. I am glad of the Reboot. I am looking forward to the follow on series that just has to come. We can only but wish.
the movie was great. it was because of this movie i went out and began watching the orignal series. now i have all my friends in on it. i highly reccomnend watching this movie. it was a blast.
This movie sucked. It had one of the worst screenplays I have ever come across during the 2009 movie year. How much did Paramount pay movie critics to glorify this film?
ever seen Spock speak Japanese? its funny