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J.J. Abrams reboot/prequel to the "Star Trek" film franchise.

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Solid Entertainment on its Own/ Pales in the Star Trek Franchise

  • Dec 3, 2009
Rating:
+1
I'll get the obvious out of the way immediately: Were Star Trek (XI) a standalone piece of space-set science fiction entertainment, it would probably be one of the finest to come out off Hollywood in years. The visuals are stunning, the acting top notch, the Michael Giacchino sound score flawless, and even JJ Abrams' direction (which is often criticized for being jumpy and dependent upon effects) is quite appropriate. So why then a very mediocre review score? The answer is simply this: Like George Lucas discovered when he went back to tell the first three episodes of his space opera epic, Star Wars, some material is so beloved and firmly established within the psyche of popular culture that it exists upon a pedestal no filmmaker can reach.

Filmmakers hoping to re-establish, even with the hopes of improving upon, this type of property are simply flirting with disaster. Enter Star Trek, a film that basically allows the viewer to experience the Star Trek Universe in its recreated infancy with all of the visual grandeur and evolved filmmaking technique of today's digital age without compromising the source material... too much.

The film, directed by JJ Abrams, was written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the eleventh film based on the Star Trek franchise and features the main characters of the original Star Trek television series, who are portrayed by an almost-entirely-new cast.

The story's sense of grand scale is apparent right from the opening scene as the film begins something like this: The Federation starship USS Kelvin is sent to investigating a mysterious lightning storm in space, when a Romulan ship, the Narada, emerges from within the storm's vortex and quickly makes light work of the Federation vessel.

The Romulans demand the captain Robau to transport to their ship to negotiate a ceasefire. Once the Romulans realize, through their interrogation of Robau, that it's in fact the year is 2233 (meaning they had gone back in time) and that Robau naturally has no knowledge of the individual they feel is responsible for all their troubles, one ambassador Spock.

Nero murders Robau in frustration and orders the Kelvin's destruction. Acting Captain George Samuel Kirk (James T's dad) orders the evacuation of the ship onto shuttlecrafts, including his pregnant wife, Wynona. He proceeds to sacrifice his own life to steer the Kelvin on a collision course into the Narada, resulting in only light damage to the massive Romulan mining vessel.

From there the viewer is whisked along on what is basically a glorified succession of character introductions. Settings span from the surface of the earth (Iowa in fact) to the deep reaches of the galaxy where the yet-unknowing crew of the starship Enterprise are scattered.

For all of it's wonderfully brisk pacing, charming character introductions, and believable interactions, I can't seem to overcome the abundant and oft times blatant canon deviation that takes place within. I will say this in the story's defense, we are to believe that this is NOT the Star Trek timeline we've grown to know and love throughout the years but rather a tangent, or parallel timeline that has been created by the Romulan interference of the space-time continuum. Unlike say, Back to the Future, where a single time line is said to exist that can be moved around upon at will (affecting future events), Star Trek follows the hipper theory that the moment an alteration is made to the original timeline, two futures (or millions of them, depending on how many alterations are made) exist separately and independent of each other.

Confused? Don't be, all it simply means is that while you're looking at young James T Kirk, Mister Spock, Captain Sulu, Scotty and so on, these aren't the same guys we grew up with. They were the same initially but live in an entirely separate Universe, one in which the planet Vulcan is destroyed, where Captain Kirk never gets to meet his father, where Spock and Uhura have a passionate love affair, and where by the end of the film, there are two Spocks (one young, the other not so much) running around. Will this trouble some longtime fans of the mythos? Absolutely. Because while the novelty of witnessing the introduction of such legendary characters (however contrived) is present, there is an undeniable "cheapening" of the whole experience in knowing that this isn't the future we already know and love.

In this line of thinking, anything's possible. Let's say for the sake of argument that the yet confirmed sequel was to open with Kirk's death or the obliteration of the planet earth. Not a problem, this isn't the timeline you grew up with anymore. Alternate dimensions were never my thing even when comic books periodically decided to justify an important character's death by using the same technique. It's hacky and a bit too convenient for me.

I suppose my own frustration in the whole matter (either instance) is that it truly frees up the writers' ability to deviate from the series canon at will- and rest assured they use this power liberally in Star Trek. Interviews and articles suggest that it was done as a means to reintroduce the Star Trek mythos to a whole new generation but the fa├žade is quite transparent with motivation such as visual appeal and the writers' lack of knowledge on the original material's intricacies getting my vote.

Again though, on its own, Star Trek is a delightful romp with stellar cinematography, breathtaking action sequences, and some outstanding actor performances (most notably a near-unrecognizable Eric Bana as the villain and New Zealander Karl Urban's subtle mastery of Bones McCoy's Kentucky accent).

The dilemma the film was faced with was an understandably difficult one; while there is no denying that this material works best where it didn't have such big shoes to fill, the studio backing of Paramount, distribution, and box office appeal would have suffered immeasurably if not for the Star Trek branding. As such, the question then becomes which is the more tolerable- A slight mockery of the established mythos within an action-heavy science fiction environment, or the film being canned before even getting off the ground due to its inability to nab major studio support? Perhaps a compromise would best suit everyone but as it stands we get the former, take it or leave it.

While unofficially labeled the eleventh major motion picture of the Star Trek franchise, you may notice that for the first time no zippy catch phrase can be found under the title card here. This lends to the suspicion that the filmmakers are hoping this will be the foundation for a whole new "retooled" series using the names and likeness of the original crew of the Starship Enterprise, so long as the viewer realizes that in parallel universes, nothing's impossible.

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More Star Trek (2009) reviews
review by . March 23, 2013
What was your first impression? Very negative        Plot summary? A new cast of the characters having the same name is introduced with a new storyline. Kirk and Spock forge a friendship under fire.        What's the bottom line?      There are some bad moments that will turn off many long-term Star Trek fans but if that happens, watch it a few more times and concentrate on the relationships between the main characters. 
review by . December 12, 2010
Let's just be clear, I am not a trekkie nor have I ever been a trekkie, and this film did not make me a trekkie, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this reboot of the franchise. The acting was great, the special effects were great, the story was great, and I recently found out that this was the only Star Trek film to win an Oscar (best makeup). It did tend to drag/ be too talky and sometimes hard to follow in some scenes, but for the most part, the movie worked.      …
review by . May 03, 2009
Star Trek Poster
Just as a warning, this review is going to be very spoilerific, so if you hate spoilers don't read this, but I just can't help myself. Now then, may I just say that this might be the BEST Star Trek Film ever?! And that's not comparing it to The Wrath of Khan or First Contact. This Trek film stand alone among all of the other ones. When J.J. Abrams set off to make a Trek film that was accessible to both non-fans and fans, he apparently knew just what he was doing. This film was also an ensemble piece. …
review by . February 27, 2011
posted in SF Signal
How is it that a film that has been so anticipated, has had so much money and hype devoted to it ends up on the screen with a continuity error in the first half-hour? I refer to the scene in which McCoy is sneaking Kirk onto the shuttle to the Enterprise: Kirk enters the shuttle wearing a red cadet's uniform and then appears on the Enterprise wearing a black uniform. I won't even go into McCoy's breaking the 'do no harm' mantra of the medical profession... Yes, I'm probably …
review by . August 26, 2010
To be honest, I didn't think it could be done. I'm one of those old-time fans. I grew up on episodes of Star Trek in syndication. I cheered the return of the original cast to the movies. I followed closely -- at times more with a sense of loyalty than enthusiasm -- the various series set within the Next Generation, and I even stepped back in time to the early days of Enterprise. But when Hollywood chatter turned to rebooting the saga from the start, placing new actors in the roles of …
review by . December 07, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I was never a big Star Trek fan.  I had moments where I watched the original and where I watched Next Generation but for the most part I found the series to be well... boring.  Some of it was the science fiction stuff, others was because sometimes it seemed as though Star Trek could never get to the point.  That's not to say I hated Star Trek or couldn't stand it.  There were certain episodes of the original series that I rather enjoyed.  Some parts of …
review by . December 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I’ll get the obvious out of the way immediately:  Were Star Trek (XI) a standalone piece of space-set science fiction entertainment, it would probably be one of the finest to come out off Hollywood in years.  The visuals are stunning, the acting top notch, the Michael Giacchino sound score flawless, and even JJ Abrams’ direction (which is often criticized for being jumpy and dependent upon effects) is quite appropriate.  So why then a very mediocre review score?  …
review by . May 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
movie poster
"…To BOLDLY go where No Man had Gone Before.".. …or something like that. The immortal tagline of the operatic TV franchise that had gone on for many generations. First off, let me tell you that I am a casual fan and more of a "Next Generation" kind'a guy, although my favorite Star Trek movie is still "The Wrath of Khan". After the failed box-office outings of recent ‘Star Trek" films ("Nemesis" for one) and the less than dominating …
review by . December 02, 2009
Quite Possibly the Best Home Video Release of All Time!
The Blu-ray for J.J. Abram's Star Trek is just plain cool!  There's really no other word to describe it.  What makes Trek on Blu-ray so cool?  Well obviously the movie itself and then the endless amount of awesome special features the second disc has to offer.  There are some people who don't really care for special features, but having watched them all, I can tell you that you're going to want to sit down and watch all of them!  While most DVD and Blu-ray releases come …
review by . September 10, 2010
I grew up with "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Since I didn't have cable, I rarely got the chance to watch the original Star Trek series. As I grew older, however, I got to watch TOS and found myself preferring it to TNG. It didn't matter how many new incarnations of Star Trek hit the television or the big screen, so long as no one messed with the original characters and the actors who portrayed them, I was fine. Then comes along J.J. Abrams. I have to admit that I followed the developments of …
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Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie

Wiki


 Star Trek
tells the story of James T. Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew, following their time together at Starfleet Academy as well as their first mission together.

Cast:
  • Chris Pine as James T. Kirk
  • Zachery Quinto as Spock
  • Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime
  • Bruce Greenwood as Captn. Christopher Pike
  • Karl Urban as Leonard "Bones" McCoy
  • Zoe Saldana as Uhura
  • Simon Pegg as Scotty
  • John Cho as Hikaru Sulu
  • Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov
  • Eric Bana as Nero
  • Ben Cross as Sarek
  • Winona Ryder as Amanda Grayson

J.J. Abrams Star Trek represents the first time in sixteen years since Leonard Nimoy has played the character of Spock.

Originally, Star Trek was slated for a Christmas 2008 release, but it was decided that the film would fair better as a summer blockbuster.  It would also allow for more media coverage as well as more time to work on the films visual effects.

This Film also represents the last time that Majel Barrett Roddenberry played the voice of the Enterprise Computer.  She died shortly after she had finished her work on the film.

J.J. Abrams' 2009 feature film was billed as "not your father'sStar Trek," but your father will probably love it anyway. And what's not to love? It has enough action, emotional impact, humor, and sheer fun for any moviegoer, and Trekkers will enjoy plenty of insider references and a cast that seems ideally suited to portray the characters we know they'll become later. Both a ...
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Details

Director: J.J. Abrams
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Release Date: May 8th 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
DVD Release Date: Unknown
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot
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