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

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Star Trek: The First Generation

  • May 9, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: It's freaking Star Trek!

Cons: Not quite as conceptual as the show

The Bottom Line: One H and suddenly the whole thing is an H no matter what! How the hell did that happen?!

At this point there's probably no way to write about Star Trek without saying this ain't your folks' Star Trek. It's stating the obvious. Besides, the truth of the matter is that it hasn't been your folks' Star Trek since the 1980's, when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. It was none other than Captain Kirk himself who passed the torch from your folks' Star Trek to the newer versions of Star Trek in the Star Trek: Generations movie way back in 1994. But there's really no other way to state that obvious fact. This new Star Trek ain't your folks' Star Trek. But it does nicely perform the necessary function of bringing the movie franchise back from the nasty hell known as franchise staleness. 

This new Star Trek movie reminds me of what happened to the whole Superman franchise. It was dead meat in the wake of newer, cooler, and more nuanced superheroes like.... Well, I don't know my superheroes very well. But Superman was always the most boring of the biggest ones. Since Superman was the first superhero and no one had ever seen anything like him before, he didn't need any particular kind of depth. For most superheroes, the cool powers are used as part of the story. But with no predecessor to compete with, the powers in Superman ARE the story. He was the ultimate living being. He had no weaknesses and he couldn't be killed. And so he quickly became stale in the light of his imitators. Whenever someone tried to apply a third dimension to Superman, it would serve as a desperate ploy to make the franchise more alluring. He was toast. Then one day, someone said "After Superman crashed, he did have a childhood and adolescence, right? Do you ever wonder what that was like for him? Let's turn that into a show!" And Voila! Superman was reinvented, given an intriguing new concept.

The JJ Abrams edition of Star Trek basically does the same thing, in movie form, for the original Star Trek crew. Not so much the cast, though Leonard Nimoy makes a quick cameo as a time-traveling Spock to do some torch-passing of his own. But it's the same idea which brought TV's Smallville into existence: Someone asked how this particular crew came together in the first place. JJ Abrams is really the perfect guy to perform this daunting task. Star Trek was always a very conceptual TV series, and Abrams cut his teeth with the high-concept shows Alias and Lost. Then he turned to movies and created Mission Impossible III, easily the best of the series, and Cloverfield. Remaking Star Trek is not a big deal to him.

Yes, Star Trek is going to be a big and accessible light and skin show. That's what's going to attract the target audience of non-Trekkies the studio wants to see the movie. But Abrams has enough respect for his source material to give Star Trek a classically conceptual idea. The idea of time travel via a different plane of existence is bandied about, and it creates the crux of the plot. It also successfully gives the movie an excuse to give us a dazzling fireworks display. But what is unique about it is that it allows Abrams to cover a couple of bases about the birth and early life of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. None of the other characters are given quite as much detail, but those Trekkies concerned about accurate minutia in their hero's life can pick and debate their favorite origin story. This plot also allows Abrams to doff his cap at his source while telling us why introducing a different backstory is acceptable. If you're a super-hardcore fan and this movie gets it all wrong, well, your Star Trek universe really is a different universe.

The mission of the USS Enterprise is to visit strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before. The operative clause of that mission would be the last, boldly going where no man has gone before. And in Star Trek 2009, Captain Kirk has a heftier dose of boldness than any other Captain in any other edition of Star Trek I've ever known. James Kirk is portrayed as a brilliant but insane wildman. He has a brain which runs at a permanent warp seven but no direction to send it in. His father was Captain of the USS Kelvin for all of 12 minutes, which is how long the Romulans took to destroy it. One day when he runs into a survivor of that disaster, the survivor tells him James Kirk Senior, in his 12 minutes as Captain of the Kelvin, saved hundreds of lives and says if Junior is half the man Senior was, he could be running his own starship in eight years. Kirk basically joins Starfleet in order to accept a challenge. 

Meanwhile, Spock is going through bullying on his home world of Vulcan because he's half-human. This is seen in Vulcan society as a handicap, and this viewpoint is in fact Spock's reason for joining Starfleet after being accepted into the most prestigious educational institute on Vulcan. Kirk and Spock learning about each other's ways was arguably the nucleus of the original Star Trek series. In this movie, the relationship between the two of them evolves from outright hate into deep mutual respect, presumably to turn into the friendship which became of that. Much is made of the background scenes of the two characters, but even though they're pivotal in the development of the two characters, I've seen other writers give them more prominence than they really warrant.

I loved watching the interesting and sometimes funny and unique ways in which the characters become acquainted with each other. Kirk and Uhura meet for the first time when Kirk hits on her in a bar. Spock sees Kirk for the first time when Kirk becomes the first person to ever pass his designed-to-fail test. (For all the fantasy of the Star Trek universe, my suspended disbelief dropped at the rationale of this. The test was designed in order for Starfleet cadets to feel fear and that's why it was created to be failed. It didn't help that the test was designed by Spock, who as a Vulcan has to keep his feelings and emotions repressed.) Kirk and Scotty meet on a freezing Starfleet outpost in the middle of nowhere.

It was a little disappointing to not see any Klingons in Star Trek, as they were the main villains of the original series. (That and I also grew up watching Worf on The Next Generation.) Instead they are replaced by the Romulans. But the plot, interesting as it is, is still riding shotgun to the real story of Star Trek: The original characters coming together for the first time, first under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. Mainly it's Kirk and Spock getting a feel for each other's personality ticks. But your favorites are all in here - Bones, Chekov, and Sulu. (I thought it was really cool that Chekov is portrayed by an actual Rusian in this movie.) All decades younger and teaming up for their first-ever mission. 

Star Trek was a moribund movie franchise when this latest movie first cropped up. Fortunately, not wanting it to remain stale, the studio fired everyone first involved and brought in newbies all across the board. Star Trek isn't so much a continuing saga this time as it is a franchise reborn. It has grit and suspense, thanks to JJ Abrams at the helm. And when all is said and done, it will hopefully have a brand-new audience of people. Hopefully those people will be the ones who always made fun of Star Trek just because it's cool to make fun of Star Trek and not because they've seen the show and thought it dumb. 


Recommended:
Yes

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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 . 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 …
review by . May 07, 2009
Honestly speaking, Star Trek is something I had never gotten into, though that slightly changed when an online friend of mine kept posting episode commentaries on the original TV series she was rewatching..     Of course, when I saw the trailer for the new movie in the cinemas, and seeing how amazing Zachary Quinto looked as Spock(I personally love Quinto), I knew it was a movie I had to see. The fact that J.J. Abrams was directing was a bonus.     After watching …
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … 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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