Title: Star Trek
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Karl Urban, Eric Bana
Director: J. J. Abrams
This is a film I intended to review a long time ago, way back when i first saw it at the cinemas but decided it needed to be watched again, just to make sure it really was that awesome and not just a pleasant surprise. For with reboots always comes more than a little dread at soiling the memory of great films, and the casual star trek fan in me acknowledges just how painful this could have been. The star trek legacy - whether you're a fan or not - is one unparalleled today; it's futuristic sci-fi still limited in what can be done and still bound by conventional physics, and still a dream of scientists worldwide trying to make it a reality. Its lore, history, politics and overarching mythos so in depth it makes lord of the rings look shallow. And through it all lies a human core, taking the action and excitement of exploring the unknown, showing the promise of a future free from racism - an unheard of idea in the 60s, having Russians, Americans and Japanese fighting side by side - and philosophising on what it truly means to be human. To reboot all this is more than just taking a new look on a dude who makes spiderwebs or a monster in an arctic base, it's entering a rich and detailed world and re-imagining all that. It's no wonder so many die hard fans were weeping when it was announced.
But as i mentioned, I am something of a casual fan. I admit i've seen almost all the films, know the enterprise's license plate, probably watched every episode of the original series and a healthy portion of 'The Next Generation,' but I came late to the scene, my young attention span brought up on the later series involving too much talking in DS9 and an annoying woman in Voyager. Along the way something got lost; the exploration of alien anatomy and captains getting their hands dirty in battle, the puns in the face of danger and headstrong attitude that screams 'fuck it, lets ignore starfleet command and go poke it with a stick.' The element that formed its core and what made it fun steadily became more serious as time went on, and it seems I wasn't the only one thinking this as Abrams' reboot has tackled precisely that.
It takes things right back to the beginning, before Kirk even became the captain - in many ways this is the story of him becoming the captain - kicking off his troubled childhood, his father dying in battle, and life in the academy, but really things get going when we get to the Enterprise. Kirk butting heads with Spock aboard the starship whilst doing battle with a deadly foe; Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan filled with anger has arrived from the future in a ship with advanced technology to capture Spock and destroy the Federation.
But this is also an origins story, showing Kirk back when he was reckless and violent, filled with wit and with no regard for rules. Chris Pine, the unknown actor playing the role, plays it like a sci-fi 'Indiana Jones,' constantly cracking jokes until its time to be serious, encapsulating the original William Shatner character perfectly. Zachary Quinto, the actor playing Spock, was no slouch either, immediately putting behind any thought that you're actually watching 'Sylar' from 'Heroes' and gets into the mindset of Spock so well you forget he could be anyone else, battling between his Human and Vulcan sides in a way that contrasts the older Leonard Nimoy version and showing how he changes with time, gently philosophising on the value of his human traits. The rest of the classic cast are introduced too; Uhura gets the sex jokes, we mock Chekov's accent, Sulu makes a memorable entrance and Scotty (Simon Pegg) gets to say all his classic lines. They're all there and everything is spot on.
I was half expecting this to flop - though it would be impressive if it was as bad as the last two. I was expecting it to once again involve Borg, because we all know how fun emotionless cyborgs spouting a single phrase can be. I was expecting Kirk to be acted poorly by this newcomer and to completely ignore the recklessness of the original character. I could go on but suffice to say I was wrong on every count. It even manages to fit in with all the current mythology (well, cheating a little) to keep die hards happy. This film is so good it makes me want to go back and watch the series again; so good Leanord Nimoy (Spock) who previously said would never do Star Trek again changed his mind when he saw how awesome the script was. This film doesn't need you to already be familiar with all the lore and history, it literally does start over and will introduce it all to you. Filled with all the action and comic moments that made the classics fun, paying homage to them and yet remaining feeling completely fresh, this is a lesson in how reboots should be done and is probably one of the best action films to come out in the past decade. Who said you couldn't teach an old dog some new tricks?
ADDRESSING THE COMPLAINTS
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It's completely destroyed the original timeline!
Yes, it has. It avoids all concerns about accuracy with regards to every episode by creating an original reality. People complain he cheated - ironically one of the lessons Spock learns from Kirk - but die hard fans would also complain if things were inaccurate. In a no-win scenario, Abrams has side-stepped the issue and started over; it's a reboot in more ways than one and a perfect solution.
Why did Nero hold Spock soley responsible?
Remember he was on a mining vessel watching from afar, and Spock was in a small ship. My interpretation was that he didn't see him at all and just let the planet die, rather than see him actually try and fail. We don't even know how much Nero knew about the situation, all we know is he knew the planet was dying, Spock had promised to save it, and then he didn't. I'd be pissed at him too...
Why didn't Nero go warn the other Romulans?
Now this part of the story is a little vague, the cop-out response would me 'it's a movie' but I hate cop outs so lets think about this logically. A man arrives and screams about the end of the world. It happens here all the time, but we call them mad and ignore them. Since he does have advanced technology he might get more influence but it's still a bit uncertain.
What about the feasibility of getting there? He's tossed in the middle of nowhere, we have no idea how far it is to Romulus or how fast a mining vessel can go - do they need to be fast? - so can he even get there? Does he even know where the hell he is? A black hole connects two points in space time, it sends you somewhere and sometime almost at random. It makes sense one ship entering shortly after another could emerge shortly after the other a short distance away (relative to the universal time and size). He doesn't have time travel, that he goes back in time is just a coincidence. We don't know what his scanners are like, perhaps waiting around in one spot waiting for the bastard (and using his superior navigational capabilities?) was the best bet.
But lets assume he can, as much of that is based on speculation of unknowns, what about the mindset of a Romulan? In a sense they are the anthesis of Vulcans; rather than purging emotion they embrace it and are driven by it. Filled with anger at what happened, emotions festering for quarter of a century, he isn't acting based on logic and to do the logical thing would contradict the very nature of being Romulan. Long story short, we aren't given the information to know for sure.
He ripped off Star Wars!
I hate it when people say this ripped off that, no film is wholly original. I get annoyed when the idea's sources aren't accredited, but Abrams is known to be a Star Wars fan. A few similar plot details doesn't mean he ripped it off, especially seeing as the two films are very different. Star Wars has very little character development, a core aspect here. There is no 'force' or religious parallel, there's no droids; there's a lot more driving them apart than together.
OMG! [insert futuristic item] doesn't exist!
Really? You're angry about things like the existence of red matter in a film where people are instantly moved between locations to shoot beams of raw energy at one another? Where moving faster than light using something called 'dilithium crystals' is par for the course? Should it come with a warning? ' This futuristic Sci-Fi film may contain science in advance of our own.' Well duh...