Star Trek Review
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95%
My rating: Full Price!!
I have always been a Star Wars fan. It was concise, didn’t boggle your mind with science, delivered much more interesting powers, and had a struggle, a real struggle, running through the series. Star Trek was always a lesser product, like a dog compared to a baby; sure the dog is lovely but the baby’s your child for Christ’s sake. I liked The Next Generation because Patrick Stewart is the definition of man, and The Original Series was great because of their excellent family mechanic, but it always took a back seat to Jedi lore and the Millennium Falcon. In 2009, however, J.J.Abrams, a Star Wars fan, took the best of both worlds and merged them both into something incredible, something that at least beat the crap out of the prequels.
Star Trek begins with an attack by a never before seen Romulan ship captained by the two dimensionally evil Nero (Eric Bana). The ship is devastated but among the survivors is the infant version of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), who grows up into a rebellious child in Iowa. When Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) meets an older Kirk, he recruits him into Starfleet, giving him the opportunity to meet Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). When the planet Vulcan comes under attack, the young cadets are sent as a response team, manning the Enterprise to take on Nero and save the Alliance from destruction. In this struggle Kirk will assume his mantle and bring his mastery to the deck; mastery that resulted in the comeback “No more blah blah blah!”
The characterisation is great but it’s not this film’s by rights. This is working off a line of excellent characters; Kirk’s pride and recklessness, Spock’s battle with emotion, Bones’ terrible bedside manner and so on. It gives every person an immature character which grows stronger as expands their experience, which is great.
The acting is sound, the only offender being Simon Pegg as Scotty; he just seemed too slapstick and had little of Scotty about him, which pulled me out of the experience quite a bit towards the end. However, every other actor does a great job. Pine is cocky but never too annoying, Quinto channels Nimoy excellently (apart from the same lush voice), and Karl Urban, man did I have it wrong about you. When I read he was going to be in the movie I flinched, then read Pegg and flinched again. However, nobody kicked my first impressions into gear more than Urban. What we could have done with was a bit more flesh to Nero’s character as he felt like a slightly hollow Khan, without the age factor.
The action is excellent. Compared to, for instance, the spaceship Jaws scene of Wrath of Khan, this movie kicks all Star Trek films out of the water. The spaceships handle like starfighters and thank god. Also battles in space make little to no sound. Whilst this might only sound like a tiny thing it is incredibly welcome with the amount of sci-fi films with explosions and even fire in space.
The cinematography is lush. The movie is filmed at a pleasing distance and the colours are some of the richest around. Mixed with beautifully designed set pieces and excellent reimagining of costumes, this film is slicker than any out there, despite having a gritty realism. The Enterprise is still made of girders and there are nasty diners, but even these are colourful.
Now we’ve all heard Abrams’ reasons for putting in lens flares, but none of them amount to much when it is just plain distracting. It’s annoying and they cut across some great acting and...yeah, remove them. They add very little other than a feeling that the Enterprise has been freshly waxed which we kind of can see already with the gleaming deck.
The deck looks lovely. It doesn’t matter how many Star Trek geeks cry, the command deck of the Enterprise looks fantastic, classy, clean, sleek, new, all these things. The entire style of the film has changed as such, everything has slick corners, things are clean, everything looks sci-fi rather than something put together by film students. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have its flaws. Nero’s ship has the usual Babylon/Fantasy problem of purpose having no effect on design. No mining ship would look like this; it looks more like something out of the minds of a tentacle hentai writer with ADHD on acid. Keep it logical.
Also, the music is poor, exceptionally poor. Considering this is probably the largest addition to sci-fi since Episode 3, one would have thought they would have hired a good composer. All of the themes are bland and the only ones which remain in my mind is the one from the ending of the first scene, and the unveiling of the Enterprise. Two themes in a two hour movie is quite embarrassing in a movie of this calibre.
This criticism aside there is little here not to love. Perhaps two hours was too little for the return of the biggest sci-fi TV series to date, and Nero could have been fleshed out slightly more. Also, it would be far better if the ten year old Kirk scene was removed as driving a car into a canyon is about as helpful to this storyline as Jeans were to Gladiator. But all round this is a great movie. No more do we sit watching two ships stand still shouting “fire” but instead we’re whizzing around; all of the Enterprise crew show why they belong there; and we get references to the best in Star Trek. I could quote Nimoy and say “To not like the new movie would be [...] acting like dickheads” but in the end it need not be said. This movie is funny, gripping, and well presented. This is one damn good film.