Review -- Star Trek (2009)

Among the many shameful things I enjoy is Star Trek. I watched the television shows regularly up until "Voyager" which was bad, and pretty much ignored "Enterprise," which might be the worst thing that Scott Bakula has ever done. Among the things that I greatly dislike is the term "reboot," especially now that every movie site and marketing campaign labels a remake a "reboot" because the word "remake" screams "we've run out of ideas and aren't even trying anymore." If you're making a remake, you might as well tack "Evolution" on as a sub-title to warn your audience not to pay for your crap.

So my expectations for J.J. Abram's Star Trek weren't set real high. Thankfully, they were met. When dealing with summer movies that offer little more than special effects and flashy, over the top performances from actors content with making money off of poo (nothing wrong with that), that's all you can really hope for. Star Trek is generic, silly science fiction. Abrams and the screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman includes every cliche from the series, including pseudo-technical jargon that makes no sense and the future-female mod uniform for Star Fleet's officers of the feminine persuasion. For a "reboot" it doesn't really do anything different and really just feels like Star Trek with a younger cast and a director with a less boring visual style than the ones that usually get saddled with "Star Trek" movies.

And that's all I want. The story is as preposterous as anything in generic science fiction, and obviously structured as it is for for future sequels not to interfere with the already established continuity of the movies and television shows -- like a comic book. Being a summer film also requires a cast of young, pretty people. So the major sci-fi conceit helps out there too, and like all bizarre science fiction concepts, it's transparent enough that even the characters seem to yawn through it while waiting to get back to the action. The actual writing for the characters is as bad as anything in Michael Bay's Transformers film from last summer (Orci and Kurtzman wrote that screenplay too) and the twenty minutes spent showing James Kirk's motivation for joining Star Fleet and Spock's abdication from the planet Vulcan are among the most boring parts of the movie. Lasting for only a few minutes, they're mercifully short but also a real shame coming off of the genuinely effective opening scene.

It also doesn't help that Chris Pine has a face that just screams "punch me" and plays a character to match. Still, he's not that bad and seems to understand the sort of movie he's acting in. Zachary Pinto as Spock let's his hair and make up do most of his acting for him, but also puts in good, believable work when required. Zoe Saldana is good looking and (as Roger Ebert very eloquently points out) is ill served by her costume, but she channels the Uhara of the old series while actually interacting with other characters.

Space Eric Bana is lots of fun and there's plenty action and wacky, nonsensical science fiction stuff (why does the Enterprise have a water turbine system that looks like a theme park ride that empties into a giant blender?) which is both good and bad. On the one hand, it's fun; on the other, it's dumb fun. Leonard Nimoy, in his scant screen time, gives a very nice and affecting performance, while Simon Pegg turns in a cartoony Scottsman stereotype as Scotty and some ass finally talked John Cho into playing a kung fu fighting Oriental. At what point does dumb fun abase the talented people involved?

I don't know. As far as space opera goes, this is one of the more enjoyable examples of what can be done with (or to) the genre. It'll annoy "Star Trek" fans that want to hear their favorite characters discuss the philosophical ramifications of anti-time wormholes that lead to the formation of universe imploding paradoxes. It'll please everybody who likes the old "Star Trek" series for it's goofy, sweet-natured fun. A trade-off, but not a bad one. Bring on the inevitable sequel.

1 comment:

  1. i was so impressed by this new Star Trek, from character development to action effects to the fluidity of the plot IMO this is the best Star Trek ever