Star Trek– ***1/2 Directed by J.J. Abrams
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood
Release Date: May 8, 2009
Commanding attraction from a once commendable television franchise, which, up until 2009, has seen countless diffident reboots, is Star Trek, a new perpetual powerhouse film that is an imaginative mix of futuristic grandeur and old-fashioned history. The movie echoes the unmistakable freshness of a distinctive and original action picture while still pertaining to the origins of a forty-year-old series that will still satisfy die hard Trekkie fans and lay a new slate for first timers.
The creative imagination behind the TV series Lost and action pictures like M.I. III is J.J. Abrams, and he is at the forefront of reconstructing a partly departed and retroactive, iconic television series from the 60s. Sounds appetizing when given the amount of numerous failed attempts at reincarnating the Enterprise; the last being 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Abrams recognizes those films’ faults and is up to the challenge to fathom a dissimilar approach to a decades old problem that hindered most Star Trek movies.
Unlike the insipid personality Wolverine displayed last week, Star Trek is out to serve the hungry heart by finding an emphatic tone and staying with that tone throughout the movie. Abrams, along with screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, focuses, in a meticulous manner, on rounding up the troops, who will be for years to come, present on the U.S.S Enterprise. This demands Abrams to put character over action, never a bad decision. His origins story of how Kirk, born in space and raised in Iowa, and Spock, born on the planet Vulcan and forced into a strict education, is how an origins story should play out. Abrams even has the decency to deal every character an even amount of attention as he dissects their personalities, likes, dislikes and their consciousness while they are all engaged in a space battle against Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan villain with a passion for creating black holes in space which swallow planets and devours starships.
The amount of debris, explosions, fire, light beams, and ammunition rounds fired aren’t so much used to convey destruction but are meant to elegantly entice viewers to enter a bold new world. It is an anomaly to start out a movie with such a hyper-kinetic action sequence that binds impeccably an emotional tidal wave equal of the same kinetic power. The result is a seamless pairing between exciting action and despair, two polar opposites that cope well with one another, just like Kirk and Spock.
Most people will put the time warp ideas, along with Nero’s destructive plan, aside to concentrate on what makes Star Trek great; the friendship being born between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). Abrams has a real affinity for being able to take large, complex ideas and distill them into character-driven pieces. With Kirk and Spock he does just that. The former being a man of gut feeling and the latter a man of intellect and logic conflict is surely to ensue. It is a pairing that Abrams created and flaunted on Lost (comparisons between Lost and his Star Trek are abundant and can be discussed at a later time). But both Kirk and Spock use their different ways of thinking to infringe upon the norm and question higher authorities.
We see it early with Spock, a confounded soul mainly because his Vulcan father married an earthling, when he rejects a prestigious Vulcan academy to pursue something bigger. Quinto’s Spock more than just replicates the point ears made famous by Leonard Nimoy (who makes a guest appearance in the movie). We feel for Quinto’s Spock because he lets us get into his mind, which is constantly at a struggle with his overwhelmingly dominant intuitive behavior that resists him feeling any emotional gratitude.
Kirk is the total opposite. Chris Pine cements himself as a star with the role. His looks could lead him to be mistaken for a younger Brad Pitt, and his undercover charisma could be linked to someone like James Dean. Pine delivers every line of dialogue with gusto and bravura on his way to creating a captain who acts with his heart opposed to his brain (which is fully capable of distributing useful knowledge). Kirk is an Iowa bar-dweller-fast-car-driver-motorcycle-ridin-bad ass who is still capable of commanding a most advanced starship. Never once do we question his ability.
From the beginning of its creation Star Trek has been absorbed by thought of entering new worlds. Abrams, not even a huge Trekkie himself, is consumed by this idea as he not only creates an environmental conflict between intellect and human instinct but also an environment of visual extravagancy unlike any other. His set pieces are visionary and, especially inside the Enterprise, have the looming effect of establishing an ambiance of uneasiness. In the outside world the set pieces show space stations erected on Earth’s soil which is meant to represent an Earth dominated by space and intellect. Yet, they look perfectly in place, almost indicating a mutual bond between nature and mechanical prowess. With that said, it is rare to have an individual who raises an eyebrow at this clockwork of mechanical intellect; in this case we have two individuals: Kirk and Spock.