Thursday, May 07, 2009

Deep Space Pine: “Star Trek” Reboot Boldly Goes Where I’ve Never Wanted to Go Before

“I’m gonna be teaching that honors program class and it’s gonna be a challenge. I’m going to have students who know that Chekov is a brilliant Russian playwright, not the guy who was the navigator on the Enterprise.” – Dorothy Zbornack

“I didn’t know the guy from
Star Trek wrote plays.” – Rose Nylund

Those two lines pretty much sum up my knowledge of the Star Trek universe. Seeing as though I’ve just quoted the classic 80s sitcom “The Golden Girls,” you can probably imagine that I’m not the world’s biggest “Star Trek” fan. In fact, I might be the world’s biggest non-fan. Having said that, the new Star Trek retooling, which is actually a prequel, which envisions the early days of the Starship Enterprise and its captain James T. Kirk is actually pretty enjoyable. From what I can tell, this new vision is nothing like the style or atmosphere of the original series from the 60s, which is why I think it’ so enjoyable. Fans will get the in-jokes and non-fans finally have a Trek they can call their own.

Director J.J. Abrams who helped create the terrifically cryptic and confusing TV series “Lost” makes his second feature length film (after the wonderful Mission: Impossible III). He has a unique visual style that is glossy and appealing to the eyes. He employed this in MI3 as well. And boy he and his cinematographer (Daniel Mindel) certainly love lens flairs! The special effects are awesome. The music is great. As is the acting by everyone involved. So what is this Star Trek movie all about anyways?

The film opens in space, the final frontier. As a nonfan, I really am unsure about what is actually going on and who everyone is, but I’m going to try my best. Bascially there’s a spaceship being attacked by the “bad guys” who are Romulans who are headed by Captain Neo (Eric Bana). They take the captain hostage leaving George Kirk in charge. Meanwhile his wife is about to give birth and he has to sacrifice himself so that everyone on the ship can escape. James T. Kirk is born and we flash forward and see Kirk as a child and later as a young man played by Chris Pine. I think this is really where the film gets its juice. Pine is a relatively unknown actor having appeared in some random movies you’ve probably never seen (myself included). He has an appealing quality from the start. Kirk is a suave womanizer (he apparently has a thing for green ladies) who is smart but gets into trouble (he actually reminds me of a toned down version of Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass). He gets into a bar brawl but is enlisted by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to enlist in Starfleet. There he goes through his training and where he meets best bud Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban) and begins his rivalry with half human half Vulcan Spock (Heroes’ Zachary Quinto). All the standard Trek characters are accounted for including Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) and love interest Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Wow, that’s a lot of characters and I’d like to thank Wikipedia for helping me out a bit.

So basically Neo is still kicking and Kirk realizes that he’s up to the same shenanigans as the day he was born and his father was killed. Of course Spock sends Kirk off to some scary snowy planet where he’s attacked by the Cloverfield monster’s cousin and he eventually runs into Scotty (Simon Pegg) who then becomes the Enterprise’s official “beamer.” Oh and Leonard Nimoy shows up as Spock from the future. So if you’re a big fan you’ll probably want to wear a diaper or something.

Ok so will hardcore Trekkis love this movie? I’m not sure, I guess so since, if you’re such a big fan you’ll like anything Star Wars….er, Star Trek related. There were two people in the theater in front of me who were literally peeing their pants every 5 minutes. I think they were Trekkies but I’m not sure. Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have worked enough into their fresh script for fans but definitely make it more appealing to those who don’t know too much about this stuff, even if I was confused on more than one occasion.

As a non-fan and someone whose knowledge of Star Trek is limited to what I’ve gleaned from 80s sitcoms and Mel Brooks spoofs (oh so that’s where the Vulcan Neck Pinch comes from!) I can say that this new “Star Trek” is an entertaining thrill ride with cool effects and wondrous production design. I’m not sure that I’m going to all of a sudden become a die hard fan, but it was enjoyable. Hey if they make another one, and that is only inevitable (actually it’s been announced on imdb) then you can certainly beam me up for a second round. GRADE: B+


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