May 9, 2009 by Zack
Of course we know where this review should begin. It should begin with what “Star Trek” was all about in the first place, right? That this was a re-visioning of a franchise that began over 40 years ago. That this was something that should’ve been left alone. I mean, for God’s sake, what happened in the last three movies under the cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”? After “First Contact”, what did we have? Does any real self-respecting Star Trek fan consider “Insurrection” and “Nemesis” a part of the real Star Trek narrative? Can any Star Trek fan call themselves self-respecting?
OK now I’m being unfair. After all, throughout my childhood, it certainly defined a part of who I am now. Spock’s logic, Kirk’s unapologetic attempts at singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, and Chekov’s inability to sound out his “V’s”.
But, that aside, so what about this new, *eleventh* movie in the “Star Trek” franchise? We “Star Trek” film buffs know that any odd-numbered film is going to be bad.
Can we call this the eleventh movie though? This is really, in a sense, before the *first* “Star Trek” movie. Not only that, before the actual first “Star Trek” series itself.
But I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be. The real question is, can a person save a franchise after destroying his own? (J.J., yes I am talking to you–“Lost” come to mind?). Well, the answer…my beloved readers…is…
…are you even bating your breath?
OK fine. It’s yes.
A resounding yes.
This is a fun movie. In fact, it’s half-Star Trek as much as it is half-Star Wars. Strange, isn’t it? I wonder if this means we’ve finally bridged the gap between Trekkie and Star Wars fanboy. Who knows? I mean, we’ve not solved world peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but there’s always a start.
The film takes an abridged view of James Tiberius Kirk and the beloved Spock, who have been pitted against each other because of a rogue Romulan (played intensely by Eric Bana, can we expect less?) who has changed the course of time by going back in time, destroying the planet Vulcan, and expecting to continue his wrath against any other Federation planet–one of them, of course, being Earth. Now I know all of this sounds incredibly complicated, but–
Oh, wait–it doesn’t? Sounds pretty simple, actually, right? Well, that’s okay. The screenwriters agree. In fact, forget the weak first two acts, and appreciate where this film really delivers: Act three, and chemistry.
Yes, what I believe no Trekkie can argue with–is the function of the chemistry of our beloved characters of Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, “Bones”, and Chekov. All of them are as lively and bursting they were 40 plus years ago. Special nods go out to Chris Pine (James Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock)–their subtle grasp of their characters is unbelievably well done. But we get to know all of their origins, some in subtle scenes of brilliance (i.e. Scotty) and some in hit-you-over-the-head monologues (i.e. Dr. McCoy). But in the end, is that really the most important thing?
After all, this is a film of the summer. Does it deliver? Of course it does! The ghosts of some of the cast may be rolling in their graves–but that’s only because of their selfish giddiness of wanting to bring that character back themselves. No one in the original cast can look at this young, robust cast, and say that there is something missing. In fact, the casting of this film is the very essence of why this film works.
It’s not the photon torpedos. It’s not warp speed. It’s not the Star Trek-isms. It’s exactly why the show worked in the first place, and what Gene Roddenberry wanted you to understand. It’s because, in the face of all the science fiction and nerdiness, there are faces that you want to see time and time again, and you want to revisit them whenever you can. And that warm place you go, when you’re too much of a geek to understand and join real life and real people–there is the USS Enterprise. And they’re all waiting for you to join them. That hasn’t changed. No matter what century you live in.