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Matt's Star Trek Review

Updated on November 14, 2009

I should start by saying that I have been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. I do not, however, think you could class me as a trekkie. I have seen next to nothing of the classic series, my expertise is strictly in the spin-offs, particularly DS9 and Voyager. That being said, I have seen most of the old Star Trek films, so I am enough of an authority to be able to say: the new Star Trek film is excellent.

I had a double-reaction to the news that JJ Abrams was going to reboot the Star Trek franchise by recasting the classic enterprise crew. On the one hand it seemed like a terrible idea - the fans of Star Trek are pretty rabid when it comes to the old series, putting those characters on screen with different actors could have gone horribly awry. On the other hand, the Star Trek franchise had been at a virtual standstill for a long time, and I'd seen two reboots of major franchises in recent years, Batman Begins and Casino Royale. Both of those films outstripped the originals in my opinion, so I decided to reserve final judgment until a trailer was released. I should also mention that I have every confidence in JJ Abrams, who has yet to work on a project that I have not enjoyed. To my delight, the trailer all but guaranteed that the reboot would be a success - I have pretty good instincts when it comes to trailers. JJ Abram's reboot was everything I could have hoped for and more besides.

Observations

-          Paradox’s and alternate timelines – Time travel is a device that has been done time and time again in Star Trek since the earliest days of the original series.  Time travel, therefore, is not particularly original, but in the case of this film, it is necessary.  If they hadn’t done something to create an alternate continuity for the new series, they would have had to line up the new films with the continuity of the originals.  A separate continuity does one other thing, it makes the film much more accessible to people that are newcomers to the series.  Expanding the audience to a film is always a good thing.

-          The mood and atmosphere of this film is excellent.  It feels much like a family reunion as each character from the original series is brought in.  The film is imbued with the grittiness of twenty-first century film, but at the same time the lighthearted joy of the original films was not lost.

Performances

-          Chris Pine played James T Kirk to great effect.  Even some of his mannerisms were reminiscent of Shatner’s performances.  I had not seen any of Chris Pine’s past projects, and I was pleasantly surprised that he turned out to be such a great fit for the part.

-          Zachary Quinto is an actor I was very familiar with, having seen him in both 24 and Heroes.  I had no doubt when he was first cast that he would be brilliant as Spock, and he did not disappoint.  He plays a rather darker and grittier interpretation to the character than the great Leonard Nimoy – which tracks with the general direction the filmmakers were looking to take the series – but the character was unmistakable, he was Spock.

-          Karl Urban is another actor I was familiar with walking into the movie, having seen his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Bourne Supremacy.  Playing Leonard “Bones” McCoy was a departure for him to be sure, but he was outstanding just like the rest of the cast.  He even delivered his lines in a way that reminded me forcibly of DeForest Kelley.  Urban’s performance is on par with the rest of the cast, paying homage to their classic series counterparts without emulating them.

Music, Cinematography, and Special Effects

-          The music of the Star Trek series has always been an important element.  Getting the music right was an important detail.  The score to this movie was outstanding, it stands very well on its own, and like the rest of the film, it captures the spirit of the original without emulating it.  The classic Star Trek theme is used only once at the end of the film, which I thought was a fine decision.

-          The cinematography of this film was beautifully done, the environments on all the different planets were easily recognizable, and great to look at.  Plenty of eye candy in this film, no doubt.

-          They put their budget to good use.  This is a great looking film.  They did not push the envelope as far as effects go, but everything looked good and very believable.  This being a sci-fi film, the effects had to be good, but what made the movie for me were the performances.

Bottom Line

This in an excellent film.  They could have easily messed it up, but they didn’t, on the contrary they got it right in every conceivable way.  This is a film that will appeal to longtime fans and new audiences alike.  I strongly recommend this film to everyone.  9/10

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