Wednesday, May 27, 2009


MOVIE: Star Trek
MOD-BLOG RATING: 4.75 out of 5

THE SHORT VERSION: A roller-coaster of a movie which starts with established Trek canon and then goes off in its own direction. Good acting, good writing, good effects, but stretches suspension-of-disbelief to its limits at times.

THE LONG VERSION: Star Trek has used up most of its 9 lives. We've had 5 series (Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise), 6 original-cast movies, 4 next-generation movies, and countless spin-offs in novels, comic books, cartoons, etc. The quality of the product has steadily declined since the end of Next Generation, and skepticism from fans and non-fans has grown to unsustainable levels. So what do you do, if you are Paramount and eager not to lose this cash cow?

Apparently, you throw everything away and start over... as best you can within existing canon.

This new Star Trek movie is a reboot of the franchise which begins with a Star Trek staple - time travel. After a disaster on the home planet of the Romulans (an emotional offshoot of the Vulcans), a mining vessel goes back in time to avenge themselves upon the Federation. Their first act is to destroy the first ship they come across, which just so happens to be captained by George Kirk - father of James T. Kirk from the original series. From this kickoff point, we see the origin and development of the Original Series crew of the Enterprise through Starfeet Academy to taking their places on the bridge of the old ship. Several other key foundations of the earlier Star Trek universe are also wiped out along way, and it is made quite clear by another surprise cameo that this Star Trek is a different history than the one we knew before. Nothing is secure here, except that the Enterprise crew will come together before possibly being torn apart.

Overall, this is a solid film with a carefully thought-out story designed to be acceptable to existing Trekkies/Trekkers, but also accessible to those new to the series (or more likely, to those who grew fed up with the series long ago). The effects are amazing, including significant upgrades from the 1960s-designed Enterprise, but can be distracting at times (especially the random strobe effects that seem to appear all the time on the bridge). The actors do a great job representing the same characters as the original series, but bringing their own spin onto them. Zackary Quinto is especially memorable as Spock - believable as a young Leanard Nimoy while not being restricted to a copy of Nimoy. This film is up to a 21st century level of sexiness, and there are a few swears that parents will want to be aware of before allowing young children to see the film, but both are handled carefully and are consistent within the story.

The only major flaw in the film is the extent to which credibility is stretched at times. From the "major changes" mentioned earlier - which include a fundamental revision to all Trek canon - to mysterious technobable weapons which have no relation to any known physics, this Trek pushes the limits of audience suspension-of-disbelief at times. Likewise, coincidence upon coincidence piles up in such unlikely combinations that even the characters feel required to comment upon them. At times, this takes the audience out of the film, until the next time a phaser is fired and you are reminded this is just a popcorn flick.


Ward said...

I tried writing up a review for this weeks ago but fate was against me. Baby E erased it once and blogspot erased it two more times >< Ah

I'm not a trekie so the changes didn't bother me at all, I'd even say they made the movie much better.

But then I also felt that this was much better than your average popcorn flick too. You and Ebert seem to be the only people I've read who accuse it of that low a status ;-)

Nomad said...


Hey, I love a good popcorn flick. Nothing wrong with that. But STAR TREK is up against some of the great Treks of the past - Wrath of Khan, First Contact, City on the Edge of Forever, All Good Things, etc. Those were truly great, whereas this is fun. Nothing wrong with being "fun". But there is a difference.

If you take the name of a great mythology, you are asking to be compared to everyone else who used the mythology before you. Same with the Star Wars movies (Lucas failed to live up in Episode 1) and many, many Robin Hood flicks (Prince of Thieves was a good movie, but a horrible ROBIN HOOD movie).

Still, I did give it an ALMOST perfect score. :-)

Anonymous said...
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Nomad said...

Spammer begone!

Ward said...

"Still, I did give it an ALMOST perfect score. :-)"

Fair enough. Like I said, I'm not a Trekie so that might be part of our seeing it differently. But I honestly felt like Khan was the only other Star Trek movie that might be able to compete all around with this one.

And sales and reviews of everything Trek related for the past decade tell me that they needed to do something very different if the franchise was going to live. This movie delivered that in a way that, I think, will allow the Trek name to continue on in relevance. But we'll see what the next movie looks like before deciding on that =)

I enjoy TOS (Watching it on Blu right now), I thought TNG was good at the time but it just hasn't held up well in my eyes, DS9 was alright if a bit too moody, Voyager was...Well it was Voyager, and I actually liked Enterprise.

So yeah, just my perspective on where the "good stuff" was in the Trek verse.