Star Trek

Star Trek (2009)
Made in: USA
Language: English (not Klingon)
Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Eric Bana, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Leonard Nimoy
Year: 2009

Synopsis: It's the 23rd Century. The story focuses on the early days of Captain Kirk, Spock, and the legendary crew of the starship Enterprise. A vengeful Romulan starship captain named Nero (Eric Bana) threatens the peaceful United Federation of Planets, and arrives in a giant ship that resembles the Bloomin' Onion appetizer dish from the Outback Steakhouse.

Meanwhile, in Riverside, Iowa, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is an unruly but brilliant young man who enlists in the Starfleet Academy after a chance encounter with Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). On his first day, he befriends a cynical medical officer named Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), aka "Bones."

Adhering to his rule-breaking ways at the Academy, Kirk sparks the ire of one of his instructors, who's none other than a young Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto).

But an emergency situation occurs near Spock's home planet of Vulcan, and all Starfleet cadets are called into action once a distress signal is received. Captain Pike assumes command of the fleet's new flagship, the USS Enterprise.

At the helm is Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), and the navigator is a young, talented Russian cadet named Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin). But the Enterprise's new communications officer, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), offers evidence that they're heading straight into a trap.

Outgunned and outmatched by Nero and his "Bloomin' Onion," the Romulan presence turns out to be more than just a hostile action. Somehow, the space/time continuum has been disrupted!

Emotions flare as Kirk and Spock find themselves at serious odds on how to resolve the situation. Will the Vulcan science officer's coldly logical approach guide them through the crisis, or will James T. Kirk's irrational, unorthodox methods save the day?

As Earth itself becomes a target, Kirk is further helped by Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) an underrated engineer, and another unexpected ally who claims to have traveled back over a hundred and twenty years from the future...

The Good: This re-imagining of the original Star Trek series is an adrenaline-fueled, action-packed adventure. It's a much-needed, warp-powered kick in the pants that the franchise has been waiting for, and is the very opposite of the slug-paced Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which made the Latin translation of the Book of Leviticus seem exciting by comparison).

Chris Pine does an excellent job as Captain Kirk, and brings all the familiar cockiness and charisma to the character. He manages to play Captain Kirk, not William Shatner. Zachary Quinto is a dead ringer for a young Spock, and although his voice isn't as deep as Leonard Nimoy's, he makes up for it with a well-timed, one-eyebrowed raise. And since we're on the subject of Spock, Leonard Nimoy hasn't lost a step when it comes to reprising his most famous role.

Karl Urban is fun to watch as Doctor McCoy, and channels enough of the late DeForest Kelley without going overboard. And of course, Simon Pegg's much-anticipated interpretation of the beloved Scotty doesn't disappoint.

Many familiar lines from the original series and movies are recited, and many other background elements, such as tribbles, are referenced. This is sure to bring back fond memories for fans (and yes, they kept those '60s styled mini skirts in case you were wondering).

The action in this Star Trek reboot far surpasses that of the previous six big-screen adventures featuring the original characters, and the special effects/production design are everything we'd expect out of a big budget sci-fi flick.

And even though director JJ Abrams pays lip service to the technical geekery famous for getting fanboys beaten up at school, here, he pays more attention to stuff like having the characters actually get things done (as opposed to sitting around a conference table talking about it).

The Bad: Eric Bana's Nero isn't that great of a Trek villain, compared to the likes of, say, Ricardo Montalban's iconic Khan. Nero's just a grumpy-looking guy who wields menacing objects and makes nasty threats as he sulks around his giant, flying "Bloomin' Onion." Thankfully, he doesn't take himself too seriously.

Although all the characters are given pivotal roles, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu are a little underused. Furthermore, the chemistry and camaraderie among the crew doesn't gel as nicely as it did during the '60s.

And finally, the starship Enterprise is a little problematic. No, I'm not going to complain about how it looks. Rather, in the TV show and previous films, the Enterprise itself was practically a character. Not only did the crew bond with each other, they also bonded with the ship. But here, it's sort of just there and not much more than a prop in the background.

Who would like this movie: Fans of the original Star Trek series, of course, are most likely to enjoy this film and get the most out of it.

I expect that the religiously obsessed sci-fi geeks will nitpick the questionable science, the time-travel element, the absence of anyone using the Jeffries Tube, and the fact that young Kirk listens to the Beastie Boys at one point.

But on the whole, the goal of the movie isn't meant to see how well JJ Abrams can satisfy a couple of nerds sitting in the front row of the theater. It's supposed to be fun, and (gasp!) accessible to a wider audience. As pure entertainment, Star Trek succeeds.

(3 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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