Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek


  • Released Internationally on 08/05/09
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 13/05/09

In a nutshell

Batman began, Bond went to the casino, and now it’s the trekkies who get a much needed ‘reboot’. The long-running franchise, which so far has spawned six TV series and eleven feature films, had been flailing recently in both the critical and box-office departments, but this well-thought-out and much-needed kiss of life should ensure that it sticks around for a while and reaches new heights.

The Star Trek voyage

Back in 1966 a certain Gene Roddenberry created the fictional Star Trek universe for a TV series, which gave audiences the first look at the now classic images such as the starship Enterprise, Spock’s pointy ears, and the ship’s multinational crew decked out in tight, coloured outfits with the Star Trek logo on the left side of their chest. Spurred on by the huge financial success of Star Wars and other sci-fi films in the late 70s, the cast made it to the big screen in 1979 for the first feature film. The following string of films and TV series had varying settings, casts and levels of entertainment. The last film, Star Trek Nemesis opened with a whimper in 2002, and was met with a generally poor response.

Enter J.J. Abrams

The man entrusted with revitalising the franchise was J.J. Abrams, who has gone from relative obscurity to a responsibility like this in less than ten years. The man who gave us the TV series Felicity, Alias and Lost as well as the films Mission: Impossible- III and Cloverfield brought on board his previous collaborators writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (M:I-III, Transformers), producer Damon Lindehof (Lost) and composer Michael Giacchino (Lost, Ratatouille, The Incredibles). Together they seem to have done their homework well, and crafted a film that pays the utmost respect to the franchise’s history and principles whilst looking and sounding completely fresh and re-energised. And most importantly, they have somehow managed to come up with a plot that fits in amongst the other feature films, but which can be viewed and completely enjoyed by someone who thinks Star Trek is some sort of astronomy-club outing.

The next generation

A key element in this film, and one which generated much interest amongst fans during the past years was the cast. Bright new faces had to be brought onboard the Enterprise, but they had to be recognisable as the much-loved staple characters of the series. This is one of the areas where this film excels. The plot covers the time when the crew of the flagship are just out of academy training, and shows how through a series of events they came together to take charge of the starship and earn their wings. The young cast is instantly likeable, and does a great job adding their own stamp to the classic roles. Newcomer Chris Pine ups the aggro in the iconic role of Captain Kirk, made famous by William Shatner, whilst Zachary Quinto (from TV’s Heroes) alters his hairdo, ears and eyebrows to slip comfortably into the role of Spock. The original Spock himself, veteran actor Leonard Nimoy has an extended cameo as an older Spock, and he brings elegance and legacy to the proceedings. Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings) is the ship’s medical officer Bones McCoy, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) adds a touch of comedy as Scotty, John Cho (the ‘milf’ guy from American Pie) is Sulu, Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) is Chekov, and Zoe Saldana (The Terminal) provides a much-needed feminine touch as Uhura. Not so likeable and cuddly, and virtually unrecognizable, is Eric Bana (Munich, Troy) as the bad guy, Captain Nero, who’s part of the Romulan race and who is very patient and very unforgiving. Rounding off the stellar cast are minor roles for Bruce Greenwood (Double Jeopardy, Thirteen Days), Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands, Little Women) and Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire), the latter two as Spock’s parents.

Summer is here

Setting aside for a moment all the franchise connotations and obligations, the film works wonderfully on its own steam, and is the first truly satisfying blockbuster of the summer. Never letting down its pace, the film manages to balance superb action and effects with the all-important character development, which is no mean feat considering the amount of characters we’re introduced to, and given some back-story about. As mentioned, the crew are likeable, and it’s a joy to see them slowly fit into their roles and nervously take control of the Enterprise. The sobering elements about painful personal histories and, in one scene, genocide, are countered by a constant flow of witty dialogue and playfulness, which keep the film from taking itself too seriously.

Live long, and probably prosper

Whether you have a life-size replica of Spock in your bedroom, or whether this is your first dip into the trekkies universe, this film has an undeniable fun feel to it, and should therefore manage to win over hordes of new fans rather than lose any. The plot seems a bit too convoluted at times, but it was necessary in order to be able to present this fresh start without ignoring all the predecessors. The young cast don’t show any inkling of stage-fright, and one hopes we’ll get to see more of their journeys in the coming summers.



http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/startrek/startrek_trailer3_large.html (High-res Quicktime)

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