Friday, May 8, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

All right, I'll admit it. I am a huge fan of the original Star Trek. Yes, people have explained to me about the fake rocks, the bad special effects, the occasional bit of overacting. Doesn't matter. I saw the original Star Trek when I was a kid when it was first running. I even remember the first episode - the crew beamed down to an Eden like planet but the plants were shooting poison needles at people. Thank goodness it got a red shirt first but when it got Spock he was ok. I was hooked. My very first boyfriend was even a Trekkie. When I was home with the flu he brought me my very first token of love - Spock ears. I would wear one while we talked on the phone at night. He'd gotten them at one of the very first conventions back in the 70's. I wish I still had those ears - they'd go for a fortune on Ebay but I think my mother disappeared them (along with my Bobby Sherman poster). Over the years I've probably seen every episode of the original Star Trek ten times. And I never really like the other series though I did like most of the movies - especially IV - the one with the whales.

But this new movie was amazing. It is a thrill ride even before the opening title sequence and it maintains an incredible momentum throughout. The casting of the picture is perfect. The new cast does not spoof the previous generation that played the role but they all completely nail their roles. And though the movie is a thrill a minute - they manage to throw in perfect moments of humor.

My friend, Marina, and I had dinner post movie and talked about why it worked so well. First off - as a standalone movie it works. There is enough exposition that a generation that has not seen the original will be thrilled. And for those who have seen enough episodes of the original to understand and know the original characters - this movie has a layer of inside jokes that just work on all levels.

This movie is really the story of James Tiberius Kirk - from the moment of his birth to his taking over as Captain of the Enterprise. The story is different than the one we know from the series - something happens in the first moments of the movie that changes everything. And that's good - unless you are a purist who expects the movies to perfectly recreate the series.

I really don't want to give too much away so I'll focus on characters. Chris Pine as Kirk is a perfect combination of confidence, command and cocky - he captures Kirk's swagger and his leadership skills beautifully. The new Spock, Zachary Quinto, is a perfect phsyical match though he does not have Leonard Nimoy's skill at keeping his face perfectly still and conveying his feelings with a quirk of an eye brow. McCoy doesn't have much of a role but the evolution of the relationship his character has with Spock was beautifully captured and a comic highlight. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is a delight and there is a fabulous twist that is quite unexpected given what the commercials and previews have shown. Chekhov and Scotty and to some extent Sulu are still minor characters but each shines in the movie.

The real revelation is Eric Bana as the villanous Nero. If I hadn't read somewhere that he was playing that character I never would have recognized him. He is completely unrecognizable and it's not all make up - he just is completely different than in any other movie (and somewhat redeems himself for the terrible version of The Incredible Hulk).

I understand people have been complaining about Winona Ryder as Spock's mother. I didn't think she was great or terrible - it's such a minor role I'm surprised anyone even noticed it.

So I suggest strongly that everyone head to the theatres on this hot and sticky weekend and enjoy the coolest movie of the summer. I'm already planning to head back and see it again in IMAX.

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