Star Trek (2009)

Dir. JJ Abrams

The people who I predict would like this probably plan to see this, if they haven’t seen it already–Marc, Chris, Grace and Tony. I know Mitchell saw this and loved it, which was a little surprising. Larri really liked this, too. I’m going to recommend this to everyone else: Jill and Don should enjoy this, even though they’re not big Star Trek fans. This got a metacritic score of 84.

I almost gave this a six because in many ways the film is just a little better than OK. But I ultimately bumped up my rating to a seven because I really enjoyed myself. I think the filmmakers did a great job of generating excitement and keeping the film moving. The pacing was just right, the visual aspects of the film (e.g. the battle sequences), f/x and sound really made the movie fun. In a way the experience felt like watching a Star Wars film. What’s interesting is that if I sat down and really thought about the script there would be a lot of criticism: the story itself seems to weak modification of the plots from The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: Nemesis (two of my favorite Star Trek films); the villain is also pretty boring and poorly developed; and there’s a bunch of plot holes. Despite these flaws, this was an exciting film–what Penny would call a really good popcorn film. Perhaps the other reason the problems didn’t bother me was that this was essentially “origins” film–and a solid origins film. Just seeing how the characters got started is the story, the main interest of the film. (This was true of Iron Man, which did not have a great story and villain.)

I will say that I thought the way the filmmakers wove the original Spock (Spock Prime, according to the credits) pandered too much to the fanatics, but that was mostly a minor annoyance.

One last thing. I really don’t like when a series employs time-travel to create alternate realities. I especially don’t like this when the filmmakers have to preserve the “real” reality. But in this film, my impression is that they’re going to create a new story with these characters, and I liked that–that the filmmakers don’t have stick to the history of the original series.

Star Trek
Good cast. Entertaining, engaging story. I’m still undecided about the alternate reality. Uhura is the hotness. John Cho as Sulu is fine. Doesn’t matter that the actor is Korean, because Sulu’s ethnicity was never specified in the series. Hikaru is a Japanese first name, but what kind of last name is Sulu? I’m planning to see this again next week if my options aren’t better. 8/10

I enjoyed the Star Trek movie, as those who know me probably expected. I got to see it on an IMAX screen that measures 80 feet in width, so it truly was an experience rather than a viewing.

2 Responses to “Star Trek (2009)”

  1. Grace

    I wrote the following back on May 12, 2009 after seeing the movie.

    Star Trek (2009)
    J. J. Abrams

    To Boldly Go Where I Don’t Want To Go

    The thing I most hated about Star Trek (2009) was that the filmmakers negated all of the Star Trek timeline from 2258 forward. That includes the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. I am still reeling from this connivance. While I am very accustomed to stories dealing with time travel, alternate universes, and time paradoxes, I realize now that these stories have always ended with the original timeline being essentially restored with primary characters and events intact. I feel like someone has carelessly thrown out my prized collection of favorite things because she thinks she knows better what my favorite things should be. Part of me is grieving that I will most likely never see another new story with these iconic characters the way I remember them. It’s almost like the Star Trek universe has suffered a stroke and is, while not functionally debilitated, fundamentally altered.

    But having written all that, the thing I most loved about this movie was that Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty were all jazzed up and intensified more by fleshing out flaws than just by exaggerating familiar mannerisms. The old Kirk (Shatner) has always been my least favorite captain in the Star Trek universe because he was so brash and cocky. The new Kirk (Pine) was ten times more brash and cocky, but oddly I found him quite compelling. While this new Kirk is still not likely to move up on my list of captains, he kept me completely engaged throughout the entire movie. The old Spock (Nimoy) was conflicted about being biracial and obsessively overcompensated by trying to be completely Vulcan. The new Spock (Quinto), while seeking the same goal, was badly and repeatedly losing this internal struggle. I found this uncomfortable, but, oh yes, fascinating. The old McCoy (Kelley) was ever the naysayer. The new McCoy (Urban) went one step further and was an out-and-out hypochondriac. The old Scotty (Doohan) was always very protective of his beloved engines. The new Scotty (Pegg) reached a new level of self-absorption contemplating the technological wizardry he was capable of.

    While I also found Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura to be interestingly flawed, I had the nagging feeling that too many creative liberties where taken. But as Mitchell pointed out, these characters were less developed in the original series and hence more likely to evolve in unfamiliar and dissonant ways in this new version.

    I had some other pet peeves. First, what was going on with the red spherical glob of mystery matter? That was too Alias-esque for me. I felt like J. J. Abrams was trying to insinuate his brand into this and to make it part of his canon, the Abrams-verse. Second, I like my sci-fi worlds to be self-contained and consistent, especially the production design. The Star Trek universe is supposed to be the pristine, utopian, polyester one, not the nitty-gritty, realistic one. Scratched-up space shuttles and engineering decks with water pipes are just too Star Wars and Blade Runner for me. Third, I also found Nero (Bana) to be a dismal villain. I experienced no sense of menace, insanity, vengeance, or anger. He seemed to just yell and grunt on cue.

    Basically as a long-time viewer of the Star Trek TV shows (but not of the movies), I am saddened by this new frenetic version. But if I take this movie as a stand-alone work, I do admit I enjoyed the roller-coaster ride aspect and never felt the two hours go by. Maybe these kinds of creative evolutions are inevitable now. Give me a couple weeks to adjust to this new reality. I probably should prepare myself for other re-imagined versions of sci-fi classics, even Star Wars.

  2. Reid

    Part of me is grieving that I will most likely never see another new story with these iconic characters the way I remember them.

    By “iconic characters,” if you’re referring to the original characters, then doesn’t the film’s approach provide the best opportunity for films about these characters? Wouldn’t making new films about Kirk, et al. be very difficult if filmmakers had to be consistent with the older series? Plus, I wonder if we would have seen new films about Kirk, et al. without this type of reboot. I suspect we wouldn’t. The reboot allows from interesting possibilities with characters (as you suggest in your post–although I’m not sure if I agree with everything you said about them) and stories. It also provides an opportunity for newer, cooler looking technology–not a small thing for me.

    The thing is, because you’re a sci-fi fan, you’re accustomed to alternate universe type of situations. Just think of this as one of those situations. 🙂

    Btw, I do agree about Bana. Terrible villain.

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