Film Review: Star Trek

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 1 May 2009

Though the Star Trek franchise boasts millions of die-hard fans across the globe, there are few series that have found such widespread popularity despite being universally discarded the rest of the population. Inaccurate or not, ‘Trekkies’ have built up a reputation of being obsessive geek types, able to spreak in-show alien language ‘Klingon’ and relay scenes upon scenes of dialogue from famous episodes.

Over 40 years, 10 feature films and numerous spin-off series later, it’s back to square one. Charged with rebooting one of the entertainment industry’s most famous intellectual properties, J.J. Abrams is one of the few men in Hollywood you would nominate able to cope with the sheer grandeur of the project.

Creator of Alias, co-creator of LOST and Fringe, director and co-writer of Mission Impossible 3 and producer of Cloverfield, in less than 10 years Abrams has risen from nowhere to become one of the hottest names in film and TV. Renowned for his creative mind, Abrams’ fascination with the illusion of mystery has made his works so captivating and imaginative, drawing an enviable following that will see very film and watch every show he has a hand in

Penned by Transformers’ Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and co-produced by LOST’s Damon Lindelof, alongside Abrams, the creative team behind Star Trek is a perfect fit to bring the series to a new generation.

After the hours upon hours of the Starship Enterprise’s interplanetary adventures, Star Trek goes right back to the start and the vessel’s very first voyage. Manned by a young and inexperienced crew, save for Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood), the Enterprise ships out to investigate a distress call from a distant planet, only it’s a trap. Leaving warp speed to be greeted by a monstrous Romulan ship, Pike agrees to board villain Nero’s (Bana) vessel for fear of annihilation. When bargaining proves futile and Nero takes Pike hostage, the crew, now lead by brave and spirited James T. Kirk (Pine) and calm and collected Spock (Quinto), the duo must first rescue the neighbouring civilisation from impending destruction before freeing Pike and foiling Nero’s plans to wipe out all Federation planets.

The first in what will inevitably become a new Star Trek trilogy, films in this position often struggle to do justice to the franchise they are becoming a part of. Torn between setting the atmosphere of the forthcoming films, introducing the characters and attempting to work itself as a rounded movie, in recent memory only a handful of films can boast success. Star Trek joins the very brief list.

Perfectly capturing the essence of the Star Trek franchise, while allowing for a new dawn in the face of the first-time cast and crew involved, as the substantial plot draws to a satisfying close, Abrams can chalk this one off as another great success.

Praise must also be given to Paramount for bringing Abrams et. all on board. Given Star Trek’s very geeky, fanboy reputation, by mixing J.J.’s knowledge of the wider audience with ‘Trekkies’ Lindelof and Orci’s desire to keep within the boundaries of their beloved series, the reboot has remained faithful to the original programming and films while opening up and creating something the general public can enjoy.

Aside from his vision for the ambience of the picture, on a sheer directorial level, Star Trek represents Abrams’ step-up to become a true major player in the film industry. For a project on such a huge scale, Star Trek would have caused any other director a headache just thinking about where to being, never mind implementing those ideas. Abrams has proven himself capable of taking on the pressure of rebooting a franchise followed millions of people across the world, and instantly makes himself a candidate for even the highest profile of releases in the future.

Set in space, Star Trek is understandably CGI heavy. Gone are the shoddy props both loved and hated in the original series, with brilliant set design and stunning visual effects as the USS Enterprise beams through the stars, Star Trek is effortless to watch, putting to reality what on paper might seem impossible.

Though they were never going to dispel the iconic crew of the original series, the young cast give a thoroughly enjoyable ensemble performance, led by the superb Quinto and Pine, their chemistry sets scenes alight and makes for a thrilling combination in the future.

There are a couple of minor annoyances on the way, and as the story develops, the plot takes an aggravating turn, but as the script is so well crafted and the characters develop rewardingly under a superb narrative, the film’s misgivings are easily forgotten. Somehow J.J. Abrams has managed to make Star Trek cool again, with a fresh and fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride that both new and old fans can lavishly enjoy.

★★★★

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