Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Star Trek (2009)

[Late posting due to some personal issues on my part. A review of Star Trek Into Darkness is forthcoming as well but it may be a short while]

Star Trek Into Darkness is upon us, weird ass name and all. Now you know that I’m going to try some way to see it opening weekend come hell or high water I totally saw it opening weekend. But before [we review it] I thought it’d be fun to revisit the film that revived the Star Trek franchise. It was 2009 and, at the time, it was extremely controversial due to the decision that it would not be a sequel or follow established continuity but rather a reboot. Actually this was known for some time prior to the filming that the studios really wanted to basically have the adventures of Young Kirk and Young Spock…I don’t know exactly who would want to see that, but there it was. Thankfully J.J. Abrams was the director tagged to tackle the project, though this too was controversial since Abrams repeatedly admitted that he was NOT all that into Star Trek and was more of a Star Wars guy. But luckily Abrams is a talented guy so he was able to come out with something that both Stark Trek and non-Star Trek fans both said “Yeah…pretty good.” In fact this film was the most mainstream the franchise has pretty much ever been. Which is sad.

Now prior to this film there had been ten Star Trek films, six featuring the original cast and four featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Deep Space Nine couldn’t have films made because they would have been so awesome and metal that they would likely have melted both the projectors and the faces of the audiences nationwide). The last few weren’t…they weren’t well received. This reboot was successful but was it actually any good?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: Full spoilers in this review, but seeing as this movie is four years old at this point I gotta say I don't feel that bad about it]

Bromance....IN SPAAAAACE!
In the year 2233 the USS Kelvin encountered what they described as a lighting storm in space. It turns out to be an incredibly technologically advanced Romulan ship which easily outmatched the Kelvin. With its captain killed in action Lieutenant Commander George Kirk assumes command of the ship and manually fighting off the mysterious vessel giving the rest of the crew, including his pregnant wife who was going to into labor, a chance to evacuate but he dies in the process. Twenty-two years later James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), George’s son now grown, is a troubled young man who, despite his high intelligence and his potential, wastes his life and repeatedly gets into trouble with the law. One night, after getting into a bar room brawl with several Starfleet cadets Kirk meets Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) who challenges him to follow in his father’s footsteps in Starfleet. Kirk agrees, neither of them realizing that the mystery Romulan ship that killed his father will soon return.

I have to say that I think my favorite aspect of the film was the soundtrack. Composed by Michael Giacchino I loved every song, especially the new main theme created for the film (played usually we the Enterprise is in view). I actually bought the soundtrack while the film was still in theaters, something I think I only did one other time with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Giacchino is a super talented composer; he also did the soundtrack for The Incredibles and the song “Roar” from Cloverfield (the overture played during the credits). Even if I hated this film I’d still go see Star Trek Into Darkness because of the strength of the music only.

Don't you love that new star ship smell?
The story is fine but you will likely be too busy admiring the visuals. There’s some impressive CGI in this film. Though the logic within the continuity of the older films makes it a little weird I loved the updated look of the Enterprise, especially the engine room and the bridge which seems more appropriately large. The characters from the original show all make an appearance and all have their moments to shine. Everyone makes fun of Abrams for the use of lens flare and I really don’t want to but I will flat-out say it was bad. No jokes here, they were just distracting and it felt extremely overused. I wish he wouldn’t do them. I was particularly enamored with the casting of Anton Yelchin as New Chekov, Simon Pegg as New Scotty and Zachary Quinto as New Spock. Quinto, whose resemblance to Leonard Nimoy even freaked out the legendary actor’s wife, seemed like he was made to play this role. Though he lacks the classic voice he somehow manages to stay faithful to the original character while also putting on a fresh spin that made it his own. The rest of the cast are pretty good, though I do wish some of them had a tiny bit more to do. The script seemed solid.

New Uhura is fine, and I applaud that the character’s role in the series is so greatly enhanced. I even don’t mind that her character is now romantically linked with New Spock but the creators need to make sure that isn’t her only defining trait. Here it’s fine. I do wish other characters got similar upgrade as my biggest issue with the original series was how the main cast pretty much served as window dressing for Kirk, Spock and McCoy. But as I said earlier everyone gets their moments in this movie but still I’d like to see Sulu (for example, as I love Sulu) do more badass things as the franchise continues. Nero, the Romulan villain, is alright but not particularly memorable. I doubt he’ll go down as one of the most cherished villains in the franchise. Maybe if the film did a bit more to humanize him it would have been better but sadly twenty-five years of sanity challenging hatred towards Spock had pretty much made Nero incapable of doing much else other than megalomania.

Not sure why anyone in the Federation knows what Romulans look like at this point
But we'll let that slide for sanity's sake
Speaking of that twenty-five year gap that represents the biggest unanswered question in the film: what the f**k were Nero and his crew doing between their arrival in the past and the arrival of Spock? Now the deleted scenes clearly show that they were captured by Klingons and then spent the next quarter century slaving away on a prison planet. There’s dialogue that could support this plot point but as it was cut we can’t be 100% certain that’s what happened. It seems weird to me that the Klingons would then have had access to a space ship from nearly two hundred years in the future and proceed to not do a goddamn thing about it for the twenty-five years they owned it. Seriously; with the technology of the Narada (the ship) the Klingon Empire could have conquered the Federation since it’s that advanced. Instead they just leave it in a parking orbit so that Nero and his men could recapture it at their convenience? Are the Klingons stupid? I think I prefer the idea of Nero and his men bidding their time and maybe even causing problems in parts of the galaxy below Starfleet’s radar than assuming that Klingons wouldn’t even think of reverse engineering technology that could fuel their Empire’s thirst for conquest and battle.

Also if we are counting this deleted scene as canon than we also have to count all of New Kirk’s acts of dickery as canon as well, such as manipulating the emotions of nice girl Orion girl Gaila so she can help him cheat on a test. Dick moves like that would have made me cheer when New Spock shot him into space. Let’s agree that the deleted scenes can’t be counted as part of the plot, okay?

Anyone else weirded out by Starfleet's dress code for women?
Another thing that really bugged me about the movie was the ending. The idea that cadet Kirk is given command of the flagship of the whole fleet, even though he did save the Federation, seems like a stretch. I mean, yeah, he proved himself to be extremely capable but Starfleet doesn’t know how he’ll be with his own command. He’s already got a giant ego; there’s no way that’s going to get better after that. There are things they could have done (a montage of Kirk being promoted, a caption that says “Four Years Later”) but as it is it always takes me out of the film when he ends up in the captain’s chair. At risk of giving spoilers this is something that will thankfully be addressed in the sequel.

The action and acing of this film are both very fast, which is actually pretty different from the classic Star Trek show and films (but a few Next Generation movies did have the heavier reliance on action, sometimes to their detriment). In fact this doesn’t feel like Stark Trek as much as it feels like a modern Star Wars film…which makes sense when you remember that Abrams is a big Star Wars guy. Its well within what we know about him that he’d take a lot of what made Star Wars good and apply it here. But I think it works well; it makes the movie feel fresher and more human than past incarnations of the franchise. I would always say that Abrams didn’t direct Star Trek XI when he did this film but instead he directed Star Wars Episode VII. But now he actually is directing Star Wars Episode VII so I guess it’s come full circle.

Yes I think New Spock is dreamy; what of it?
Anyway I find it hard to put into words why I like this movie so much. The plot is fine, the acting is pretty good, but it’s not like it was the greatest story ever told nor would I think anyone was in danger of being nominated for an Oscar. But the spectacle of everything coming together really made me love this film. I ended up seeing it something like three times when it was in theaters and my enjoyment level never decreased. I’ve been able to sit through multiple sittings of the fill and enjoy it every time. I’m not sure why this is; maybe it’s a nerdy fanboy thing but who knows. Star Trek is a flawed but extremely fun film that somehow manages to make Star Trek accessible to the mainstream for this first time in pretty much its entire history. 

I give Star Trek 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


-Fantastic music 

-Good acting 

-Great effects 

-Good action 


-Some characters could have been used more 

-The main character is a bit unlikable 

-The ending is a bit ridiculous


  1. Re: Your dress code for women comment - Yes! I can't remember noticing it much in the first new movie, but I definitely noticed it in the newest one. There was this lady who sat in, I think, Chekov's chair, and all I could think was "she must constantly worry about flashing people when she sits down."

    1. It's so weird. I know it's based on a TV show from the 60s but man it's hard to take an organization like Starfleet seriously when it requires its female members to wear miniskirts.


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