Sunday, May 24, 2009

Star Trek Review

Way to make Star Trek cool again. No, really. While many hardcore Trekkies will argue that Star Trek was awesome before, the series was definitely in decline, as demonstrated by the general lack of success of Star Trek: Enterprise, and a reboot of the franchise is just what Bones (Karl Urban) ordered.

Thus far, Star Trek is the best film I've seen this year, and certainly the current thrill ride of the summer. For those unaware, Star Trek starts off in Kirk's (Chris Pine) time, and there's some time line muddling so the characters are different from their retro '60's counterparts, and I'm not just talking about the actors. While I'm generally sick of the time travel plot device, it works well here (especially since it's been done before), and everything we know from the original series and onward is in a different timeline (so yes, Star Trek: Enterprise still happened).

The action kicks off right away, with a Romulan vessel that looks more like a Borg uber weapon (and yes, yes, I know it was built with Borg technology, but that was never explained in the movie, now was it) coming through some kind of rift, and their commander, Nero (Eric Bana), doesn't take too kindly to the United Federation of Planets. In fact, Nero really needs to take some anger management courses, as he's just raging all over the place (and yes, I know his real back story and motivation was explained elsewhere, but not in the film!). Think of him as the "Hulk smash" kind of villain, though much more articulate than Bana's previous, traumatizing role. So you've got a very angry guy with a very powerful ship, plotting revenge on a galactic scale. The solution, get some crazy, red-necked maverick onto the new flag ship to blow shit up. What? At least Kirk isn't bumping every alien chick in sight (though he certainly does try).

You see, Kirk's not exactly in Starfleet. Part of the timeline shift, his old man wasn't around to be that you-can-do-it influence, so Kirk's just some rough-and-tumble farm boy trying to score at bars. It takes a visit from Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to convince him to enlist, and thus begins Kirk's journey through Starfleet and our introduction to many of the original series' characters. These may be the same characters under different, re-envisioned circumstances, but mark me the film makers did their homework. Lots of classic details and traits are prominently displayed, but with a twist, and it's very interesting to see how everyone meets and reacts to one another. Kirk and Bones hit it off right away, of course, but Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto), not so much. In fact, they hate one another, a lot of pride in the way, but hey, that's ambition and ego for you.

Visually, the film is excellent. I didn't quite buy some of the structures in the far background in the earlier Earth scenes, they looked added in and didn't blend, but that's just a minor gripe. The new look of the Enterprise is modern, sleek, and inspiring, and I found it very fitting that engineering is designed more like a ship, very industrial instead of the neat and clean look we've come to expect from Star Trek. The make up and costumes are also well done, either looking fantastic, or clearly poking fun at the "nose of the week" from the '60's.

Audio-wise, spot on. The sound effects, the music, all classic Star Trek, but new and modernized. Excellent performances all around by the cast to really capture the essences of their predecessors, especially Karl Urban. He truly was Bones down to the mannerisms and the voice itself. Exceptional. And poor Chekov (Anton Yelchin), not even the computer (Majel Barrett) can understand him.

I suppose when all is said and done, my biggest complaint regarding Star Trek would be the reliance it's using on you knowing the characters and source material, which took away from some needed character development. Nothing too crazy, mind you, but there's several points where I felt a little more exposition was needed, however when it boils down to it, Star Trek is much more of an action flick than the previous incarnations, and action flicks always have less character moments and more stuff going boom, of which the film has plenty.

Of course, if you're not a Star Trek fan at all and you won't even give the film a chance, even though I know many non-Trekkies who've absolutely loved the film, then you could always just watch this for a quick summary. RED ALERT, CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Otherwise, you owe it to yourself to watch Star Trek, enjoy the first "woot" of the summer, and engage to where man has gone before, just in a very different direction. Hopefully in the next film, they can re-invent some better looking uniforms. Them Starfleet types really aren't that military rigid, and love their cheery colours.

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