Star Trek: DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2009)

12/02/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

“Star Trek”

Directed by J.J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, 125 minutes, rated PG-13.

by Christopher Smith

The J.J. Abrams movie, “Star Trek,” is an anomaly.

At first glance, the whole premise behind the film seems illogical and a set-up for failure--rebooting the iconic "Star Trek" franchise with an origins story meant to give depth and a new backstory to characters we’ve come to know intimately over the past 43 years.

Pulling off such a feat meant wedding what we didn't know to what we absolutely knew. If just the right tone wasn't struck and if the story failed to be a perfect match--there was no room for error here, particularly not with the fanbase surrounding this series--all would be lost and this fleet would sink.

This is the same dilemma George Lucas faced when he went back to the cineplex with 1999's “Star Wars: EpiSode 1--The Phantom Menace," which was a critical bust, straining to give new life to Luke and company in a movie that never built a convincing bridge between the new material and the entrenched older material.

That’s precisely how "Star Trek" could have gone down, but in Abrams' capable hands, the film is hugely satisfying. Smart, jaunty and savvy, the movie takes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s script and races with it, boldly opening a new chapter in the series while giving it a fresh shot of life in the process. Expect at least two more spin-offs from this movie, because that’s how Hollywood rolls when it has a hit franchise on its hands.

The film’s main focus is where it should be--on the relationship between James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), who don’t exactly hit it off when they meet as young adults. When we first see them, each is emerging from difficult childhoods. Kirk lost his father in battle, and it affected him negatively--he’s a brawler with an attitude. Since Spock is half Vulcan and half human, he struggles not only with whether to eschew emotions completely, but also how to find his place in a prejudiced world that refuses to accept him.

It’s later that they come to throes as the wildly unpredictable Kirk manages to land himself aboard the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise, from which he’s been banned. Amid the tension that erupts between him and Spock (Pine and Quinto are excellent in this movie), the film reveals its driving force--the evil Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana), is determined to ruin Spock and take out his planet, thus murdering billions of Vulcans. It’s a set up that offers a wealth of Academy Award-worthy special effects, but truth be told, they take a back seat to the realization of the characters themselves.

It’s the cast that sells this movie. Uhura is beautifully realized by Zoe Saldana, who has enough sauce and vinegar to take on the likes of Spock in ways that might surprise plenty. Others are equally good--Karl Urban as Bones, an unlikely but spot-on Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as a 17-year-old version of Chekhov. Amid the action, time and care is given to rounding out each character, coupling such famous lines as “I’m giving her all she’s got, captain!” to new material that gets to the crew’s naivete.

Grounding them and the movie even further is Leonard Nimoy, who returns as a much older version of Spock in a significant role that wasn’t shoehorned into the script simply to please fans. Abrams and his screenwriters were smarter than that, and what they gave Nimoy is a sweet part that’s no throwaway.

While it’s swell to see him back onscreen as Spock, it’s even more gratifying to see that thought and ingenuity went into how he was brought back to the franchise. Just how they did so involves time travel, which plenty will be happy to do themselves since “Star Trek” seamlessly meshes that past to the present, and is exactly why it enjoyed its deservedly long run at the box office.

Grade: A-

View the trailer for "Star Trek" here:

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  1. Christina said...

    I completely agree! This movie could have been a complete failure as the expectations were high however it somehow pulled it all off quite eloquently!

  2. Daniel B. said...

    Very well said ! This movie is a great combination of elements both new and old !!!

  3. Warrior Librarian said...

    This is by far the best treatment of Star Trek (the original) brought to the screen so far. Abrams knew that it wasn't about the special effects, it's always been about the relationships--especially amongst the triad of Kirk-Spock-McCoy. His casting was superb and the film had just the right mix of old and new. It has pleased old fans like myself, and brought a new generation of fans to the series as well. Star Trek is back, better than ever. That's a terrific accomplishment.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Great review! I completely agree, the movie blew away expectations. The development of every main character was the winning formula. Fully satisfying and a winner all around. Highly recommended!

  5. iReign said...

    I couldn't agree more. I enjoyed the film even more the second time around (probably because I wasn't preoccupied by analyzing it!). Thank you for your review.

  6. Ralph Siegel said...

    George Lucas take note!! We all thought Star Trek was dead and buried long ago. It had become cartoonish and boring to most fans of sci-fi. Star Wars can be made more relevant by taking those elements we all loved and marrying them with new characters and relationships we can care about. Right now Star Wars is a distant second to Star Trek, something this fan never thought was possible!!

  7. Dany said...

    yup! this movie kept me glued to it !

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  8. Jeff said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  9. Jeff said...

    I was worried about the movie before it came out, but I loved it and have yet to hear anyone say anything but the same! May I make a query however? Winona Ryder as Spock's mother? I don't know how everyone else feels about that, but I could not accept it for some reason. She stuck out from the rest of the cast not as Spock's mother, but as Winona Ryder. It took the illusion away for me when she was on screen. What do you guys think?

  10. Anonymous said...

    I loved your blog. Thank you.