Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Bruce Greenwood and Eric Bana
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 122 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
It should be said that any cinema buff or those interested in the development of the movies, even if they are not Trekkies/Trekkers or have never even seen an episode of the several television series which spun off from the original (1966-1969), should see this film – whether they like it or not! It is, of course, state of the art technical craft and effects. It also brings to new life pop culture characters and space exploration and peacekeeping, especially the image icons, Captain James Kirk of the Enterprise and the Vulcan Spock, as well as the crew of the Enterprise.
In a year of sequels (Transformers 2 -written by the same team who wrote this one, Terminator 4, Harry Potter 6) and prequels (Wolverine), producer director J.J. Abrams, a man with a solid television reputation for Alias, Lost and Fringe, as well as the sequel Mission Impossible 3, has opted for the Star Trek prequel instead of the sequel.
In a spectacular and fast-paced prologue, Star Trek takes us back to Kirk’s father, his confrontation with the embittered space villain, Nero, his sacrificing his life for his crew to escape spacecraft destruction ,as well as save his wife who gives birth to James. There follows an incident from a reckless childhood (a stolen car and speeding to the edge of a cliff) and then teenage (a brawling and flirting rebel in need of a cause) and a challenge from Captain Christopher Pike for Kirk to emulate his father. Which, of course, he does.
We are also introduced to the young Spock, a Vulcan who opts for logic and reason instead of feelings which he inherited from his human mother.
By this stage we have a strong cast with Chris Pine persuasive as the young Kirk, Zachary Quinto as the young Spock, Ben Cross and Winona Ryder as his parents, Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike (all of these from the television series) but also a new character, an impressively evil Nero, Eric Bana.
The crew of the Enterprise are also introduced and are cast for their physical resemblance to the original performers or their ability to remind audiences of the originals while making their characters their own. Zoe Saldana is Uhura, John Cho is Sulu, Karl Urban is ‘Bones’, Anton Yeltchin is Checkov and Simon Pegg is a comic Scotty.
Were synopses writers trying to explain plot developments, they would have considerable difficulties attempting to elaborate on the time shifts (the swift place shifts with ‘beaming up’ are easier even if the physics is still suspect). Characters come from the future, including Nero. At the end we find the older Spock confronting his younger self. Scotty hasn’t found the formula yet for ‘Beam me up’ which he is credited with inventing but we see him find it from the future!
The film does not lose its pace, with fights on the surface of a space ship, with Kirk stranded on an icy planet pursued by two rapacious monsters, the black hole destruction of the Vulcan’s planet, the final battle with Nero.
So, in its own right, Star Trek stands as an intelligent (though difficult to explain logically) space and futuristic entertainment with skill and craft to admire. It also is a helpful tale of the personalities and psychologies of characters who have been and grown in the popular consciousness for over forty years.
While William Shatner, the original Kirk, does not appear, a great bonus for the film is a substantial presence of Leonard Nimoy as the older Spock, contributing well to the plot as well as to the continuity of television and film.
And he has the final word from long ago, the goal of the Enterprise and, probably, the best known split infinitive in the English language, ‘to boldly go…’.
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