Starring:Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s):Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Original Score:Micahel Giacchino
Running Time:126 Mins.
It’s difficult, when reviewing a big blockbuster, because all too often expectations are sky high, case in point X Men Origins: Wolverine highest of expectations, biggest disappointment. It’s not that Wolverine was bad, just deeply disappointing. So surely the opposite would apply, low expectations, huge satisfaction…so to speak! Which brings me to Star Trek. No, J.J. Abram’s Star Trek more importantly, for without the genius director I can’t help but think I’d be far from raving about a Star Trek film.
As with Star Wars it seems you either love or hate the franchise, and coming at this Star Trek having only seen a couple of the more recent, and very poor on every level, films I have had little to no interest in the development of tbis latest installment. Even when J.J. Abrams was announced as director my interest was only mildly piqued. However In Abrams I should have had more faith, after all he had directed one of the best action films of recent years (M: I-3) and with Star Trek he brings much the same spark and buzz, two qualities often found severely lacking in Hollywood these days.
It’s hard for me to say how faithful this remains to its heritage, but from what I’ve heard it honours the original films/series whilst setting up a new universe, cleverly (or maybe obviously, but hey it works for me) the idea of an ‘alternate’ reality is used to side-step the problem of making everything the same as before and things can be changed without ire-ing too many die hard fans. Which means we are in the usual ‘origin story’ episode except this achieves giving us the origins behind how the characters we know and love? get together.
Opening with a young Kirk (he who was Shatner) being born amidst his fathers death whilst saving hundreds of lives we then flash forward to a brief scene setting him up as a rebellious care-free upstart with nothing to lose, after a chance meeting he joins Starfleet, whilst inter-cut with a young Spock (he who was..and still is, in part, Nimoy) growing up struggling with human emotions, what with being half human/half vulcan and all! Oh the trials and tribulations of an alien being. So what follows thereon in are very brief but well handled introductoy scenes setting up all the other crew memebers, Uhuru, Scotty, Bones, Chekov etc.
The strength of Star Trekis two pronged, a.) the director and b.) the cast who are not only uniformly excellent but engage your interest without it wavering, Pine is the standout as Shatner and should begin to shine as one of Hollywood’s brightest stars if there is any justice. Whilst Quinto begins as a slightly dull character in his take on Spock but grows into the role and leaves us reeling for more of he and Pine together in the inevitable sequel. Of the support Karl Urban’s Bones makes the biggest impression, for it is he who is given the most screen-time next to the ‘dynamic duo’ of Spock and Kirk.
On the, easily overlooked, downside, is a slightly old hat revenge plot undertaken by the villain, Eric Bana, so whilst Bana makes the most of his moody scenes I was crying out for a standout denouement between hero and villain that never came, but something tells me Star Trek was never about those kind of Star Wars-y stand-off’s. And Zoe Saldana’s Uhuru feels somewhat shoe-horned in simply to have a female on the crew, something which isn’t helped by her dull and weak performance alongside some great character actors.
Directed at such pace it is easy to forget that many scenes are exposition heavy, something which much more seasoned directors have failed to make exciting (Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons for example) but when these scenes are punctuated with some of the most fantastic action scenes (the parachuting scene being the standout) since, well, M: I-3 you can’t help but feel spoilt, for this is what cinema was made for.
Much more than just a reboot/remake/origin story J.J. Abrams take on this classic mythology is a notch above the usual Summer fare. Exhibiting the one-two knockout punch of excellent direction and great casting by a largely excellent cast, as a non Star Trek fan I can’t recommend Star Trek enough!