STAR TREK

(2009)
With Chris Pine, Zachary Pinto, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Leonard Nimoy
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Reviewed by JB

Spock, there's some THING out THERE!     I dreaded this Star Trek reboot from the moment I heard about it.  I disliked the pictures I saw on the covers of various magazines, which made the new Kirk and Spock look like vaguely effeminate "Metrosexuals in Space".  The few scenes I saw ahead of time all had to do with special effects instead of characters.  The whole idea of bringing back the original Star Trek with new actors playing the old characters rubbed me the wrong way.  The two positive things I liked about the project was the involvement of J. J. Abrams (I love both Alias and Lost on television) and the casting of Simon Pegg (SHAUN OF THE DEAD) as Scotty. 

     Well, I've seen Star Trek now and most of my trepidations have been proved unfounded.  Some in the cast are more impressive than others, but overall all do a fine job a recreating the classic characters from the original series.  Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhuru stand out above the rest for what they bring to the characters, and Pine even manages to inject in a tiny bit of Shatner to his performances (check out the ways he says "Bones!" in the final scene of the film - it's hilarious).  The story, concerning time travel, cleverly sets up an alternate timeline for the series, meaning that if the franchise continues, it can do so without worrying about the events of the original series and movies.  It's always great to see Leonard Nimoy reprise his role as Spock (yes, there are two Spocks in this film) and it's nice to see Winona Ryder getting her career back on track (she plays Spock's mother).

     Unfortunately, Abrams puts way too much emphasis on special effects and action over characters. Why? It's not as if CGI is going to bowl us over nowadays - it's been around for more than a decade and we've pretty much seen it all.  But Abrams insists on filling as many shots as possible with effects, going as far as blinding us with backlighting on many occasions just to make sure we believe his new Star Trek world is real.  Once again, as in too many movies, the action is edited so quickly, it is nearly impossible to figure out what is happening.  I'll take a good old-fashioned fist fight any day over MTV-style scenes in which the average shot lasts about one and a half seconds.  All these things distract from a film that could have been much better with an emphasis on the cast and the story rather than the effects and the action.

     Still, not bad at all for what is undoubtedly the kickoff for yet another series of Star Trek films. When the film is good, it is equal to the best of the Star Trek films starring the original series.  When it's not so good, it's not so good like a lot of other films that rely too much on effects and quick cuts.  3½ - JB

Star Trek     The Secret Vortex


IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES

"Who was that pointy-eared bastard?"
"I don't know... but I like him!"