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Star Trek (2009): From the Eyes of a Non-Trekkie
“Live long and prosper” –Spock Prime
With almost 50 years, twelve films, and six TV series, that’s precisely what the Star Trek franchise seems to be doing. Created in the 60’s by Gene Roddenberry, the franchise has become a cult phenomenon and one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises out there, maybe even on par with Star Wars. However, for some reason, I’ve never seen a single film or any of the television series. The 2009 reboot not only became a box office hit, sparking a revival of the franchise, but it also became my first experience with this long and prosperous world.
Set apparently before the events of the original series, Star Trek presents the enlisting of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) as part of the Starfleet Academy. Although they butt heads from the beginning, Kirk and Spock are forced to work together when they receive a distress signal from the planet Vulcan. Joining them are, among others, Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldaña). The distress signal is the result of an attack from a Romulan called Nero (Eric Bana), who has come from the future to avoid the destruction of his home planet, which he blames on Spock.
As someone who isn’t familiar with neither the series nor the previous films, I can’t draw many comparisons or parallels. But I can say I enjoyed this film a lot. It felt like a solid build-up for a good franchise, establishing all the characters but also managing to stand alone as a good action/sci-fi film. And despite my unfamiliarity with the franchise, this film felt like it had that sense of respect to the original franchise that a lot of remakes/reboots don’t have. This was felt in everything from the story and the essence of the film, to the performances of the cast.
The performances were good, particularly from Pine and Quinto. The latter gave some good subtle emotions to the character of Spock, while the former managed to convey the cockiness that one would expect from Kirk, mixed at the same time with an innate sense of duty. I also enjoyed the playful banter between Kirk and McCoy during the first half. On that note, it was nice to see Urban doing something different than what he has us accustomed to.
The rest of the supporting cast was okay and I think it provided the multi-racial balance that Roddenberry had in the original series. If anything, the antagonist – Nero – might have seemed a bit bland, but I think that was a conscious decision for a first film; not having the villain overshadow the main characters. The addition of Leonard Nimoy was also a pleasant surprise, and his character added some interesting layers to the plot.
The alternate timeline plot felt like the writer’s way of giving the original series a certain respect, by not negating the events of past films, but rather adding unto them. In that way, Nimoy’s presence gave the film that sense of connection to the past that I think would satisfy loyal Trekkies, while not alienating the unconverted, like me. I read that Nimoy was overwhelmed when director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Roberto Orci approached him. Having turned down many previous opportunities to reprise the role, Nimoy’s approval of the script was a focal point for this story.
But first and foremost, I felt that the film was a lot of fun. A very entertaining experience, with great direction and solid performances. Plus, it really felt like a breeze. Not the least bit overlong or overdrawn. What can I say? I’m already looking forward to the second one, which is more than what the original series or films did for me in 40+ years: To boldly go where I hadn’t gone before. Grade: somewhere between a high B+ and a low A-
Star Trek (2009) Official Trailer
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