Star Trek Review (****)

new-star-trek-posterI am not a Trekkie. I have never dressed up as a Klingon or, for that matter, any member of the U.S.S. Enterprise. I think the phaser is an effeminate weapon that doesn’t come close to sheer awesomeness of the lightsaber or a blaster. Yes, Spock’s ears bug the crap out of me, as such I’ve never said “live long and prosper” and might consider socking someone in the gut who did. Furthermore, with the exception of “The Wrath of Kahn,” “The Voyage Home” and “First Contact,” I think all Star Trek movies are one star nap magnets.

But man oh man, J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Lost” and “Alias”) reboot of “Star Trek” is something to behold. It’s like the greatest possible pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you’ve ever had. It’s got the nerd parts like the other movies, but for some reason this time around they don’t cause me to wince and shudder. Maybe it’s because this Enterprise re-spawn has a little chutzpah and keeps the action at DEFCON 1 from start to finish. Or maybe the far-fetched extreme sci-fi realm of the Star Trek universe is given a big dose of realism (i.e. “Batman Begins”) and a huge advance in character development. I don’t know. What’s certain is its fresh, fast and a pure pleasure from start to finish.

There’s not much to divulge by way of story. Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the duo behind both “Transformers” films and “Mission: Impossible III”, interweave a Romulan time-traveling baddie, Nero (Eric Bana), bent on destroying Federation worlds, into the introduction of all the major characters of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The focus, of course, is on a fatherless James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) who is brash and rebellious, and Spock (Zachary Quinto), whose dueling heritages of a Vulcan father and human mother are the source of his pain and angst throughout the movie. It’s the age old question – emotion or logic? We also meet Bones McCoy (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Scotty (Simon Pegg). You know these characters, except this time we are meeting them closer to puberty instead of two steps from Depends. Our heroes are young, hip and full of vitality, and probably another reason the movie is palatable for the moviegoing crowd that normally spurns anything Trek.

It is evident Abrams and his film crew, from the cinematographer to the composer, has meticulously planned every minute detail in the film. From the lens flares used to convey activity and a sense of “realness,” to the nimble score from longtime Abrams’ collaborator, Michael Giacchino, I got the sense construction of a new “Star Trek” franchise wasn’t taking place to line the studio’s pockets with cash, but rather out of love and respect for a cultural phenomenon alive and beating since 1966.

I did have concerns about the amount of CGI in the movie. From the trailer, it looked as if Abrams might be pulling a George Lucas, especially with the floppy-mouthed Venus flytrap dinosaur Kirk encounters on Delta Vega, a snowy planet, midway through the movie. Again, my fears were never realized because Abrams and the wizards at (ironically) Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Domain meshed the 1,000-plus CGI effects with the real world locations to create an atmosphere that feels more existent than cartoony.

“Star Trek” isn’t a perfect movie. I think the story, especially the introduction of the characters, is too orderly, but that is a minor flaw and one that is easily overlooked. I can forgive Abrams for not overstuffing the movie, as neat and clean usually make for a more enjoyable cinematic experience than something that is stuffed and bloated with indecision.

We have more big releases right around the corner this summer, so to call “Star Trek” the standard to beat might be premature, but something tells me when Labor Day rolls around we’ll be looking at a potential first-place box office finish and one of the best reviewed summer movies this side of “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight.” Trekkie or not, you’re going to love this movie.

10 comments On Star Trek Review (****)

  • Whats with the kiddies in these reboots?

    I realize im old but gimmie a break, the new superman looked like his gender hadnt even developed before dawning the new cape and now these kids are on the enterprise(no im not a trekkie, trekker or much of a trek fan at all.)that being said..ok i just wanted something to bitch n moan about.

    This movie looks done right and im kinda stoked to see it. 4 stars sounds strong. If it sucks im going to flog you sir. ;)

    Bring on the summer movies!

  • I have to vehemently disagree with you, Andy.

    To say, “I got the sense construction of a new “Star Trek” franchise wasn’t taking place to line the studio’s pockets with cash, but rather out of love and respect for a cultural phenomenon alive and beating since 1966,” is to not get “Star Trek.” This is absolutely about gaining new fans of what could be a multi-film franchise and cashing in on those fans.

    What you saw at the theater and just gave four stars was a very good movie. But it was not “Star Trek.” Just because you put the starship Enterprise and the original characters on a screen and play out a story does not mean you have Star Trek. You can argue that the earlier films, especially the latter ones, got bogged down in being respectful to canon, and to a large extent, you’d be right, but that’s a lot of what Star Trek is, it has an extensive canon and is in large part faithful to it.

    This movie, in an extremely disrespectful manner, urinated all over canon. Much of what was ruined didn’t need to be, by the way.


    The new movie killed Spock’s mother, destroyed the planet Vulcan and left Old Spock in the past. All of these don’t necessarily need to remain to retain the new fans. Star Trek is a culture. This movie will piss off the Trekkers (and it is, if you read the fan reviews) and any “new fans” gained will be casual and short lived.

    Perhaps it was time for the Star Trek franchise to fade into the sunset. For now, I stand with absolutely no respect for JJ Abrams, who has destroyed a masterpiece in my mind.

  • I’d have to agree with Tyler- while one of the writers was a Trek fan, the other was casual and Abrams was no fan at all– a self-professed Star Wars guy. Paramount gave this film to Abrams and company with cart blanche except for “don’t blow up the Enterprise”.

    In the mean time, a well made movie that appeals to the fans isn’t indicative of canonical love, as Tyler’s arguing, but I do believe they made a huge attempt to restart things and break canon because they NEEDED to, but also left all previous storylines intact. Yay for time travel.

    No question, this film was to reboot the franchise and gain new audience. Monday and the weeks that follow will tell if they actually did, but to read your review as a non-Trek fan, in addition to all other very, very strong word of mouth, they nailed their goal.

  • I see what you’re saying, and my comment about making money is probably a little understated (as every studio wants to do that – HELLO). My only concern is this: What is canon? Because they offed Spock’s mom, that’s pissing on canon? I don’t know if I agree with that, especially if the studio gave them carte blanche. But if “canon” is sticking with everything that’s been done before or laid before story-wise, then I say to Trek fans that feel that way: lighten up and enjoy the ride. I suspect these are the same people who peed their pants when Peter Jackson changed “canon” in “Lord of the Rings.”

    Just for argument’s sake, Mr. Riggs – are you a Trekkie? It sounds like you might be, am I right?

    As a side note, the two other negative reviews I read are from The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane and from one Mr. Ebert. Lane, while funny and a fantastic writer, is a snob. I’m not sure he’s ever enjoyed a film and think his cravat might be too tight for him to do so. He does have sound arguments in his review. To me, his points seem more like nitpicking than actual flaws. Any film can be nitpicked, it just depends on your motivation. As for Ebert, he’s a Gene Roddenberry apologist, so yeah, his review makes sense. Also, Ebert doesn’t like anything that doesn’t make sense and he felt the story didn’t make sense.

  • The fact that this movie has Trekkie douchebags everywhere up in arms is very promising. I’ve avoided the crap that is Star Trek until now. I agree with Dan, the filmmakers have indeed nailed their goal.

  • Just read the movie grossed $7 million in advance screenings. Any predictions on what the final tally will be for weekend box office?

  • Oh, I agree with Tyler in the sense Kurtzman and Orci weren’t holding themselves to deliver a Star Trek as it’s been known– only the heart: the characters.

    As for the other point, I agree with Andy. The only “canon” is the canon held near and dear to Trekkies– Spock’s Mom staying alive isn’t canon. Old Spock having to return to the future isn’t canon. Spock is Canon and he still exists. Concurrently, Vulcan is canon– its continual existence isn’t. As such, the choices made by the screenwriters aren’t off limits.

    A new timeline, with the whole point of the NERO Mcguffin inserted to enable it all, was established and that’s fantastic. You retain the fun characters of the old show, but can do new things and that’s exactly what the new Trek does. If your heart’s with the old Trek, it still exists. I think the complaints miss that fundamental truth amidst all the emotion. That, or those who hated it were expecting Star Trek 11 and more of the same.

    As for my prediction… I’m thinking $70 million… which would be great for a Trek movie. And if word of mouth holds up, this sucker’s got legs to take it much, much further. Historically, international receipts for Star Trek are stronger than domestic– so this new reboot is bound for a sequel.

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  • Here’s my review.

    I didn’t see the movie, however I watched my friends’ kids while they went. All I can say, longest four hours of my life. Their kid pooped the bed, the theater got evacuated due to gun violence and it extended their viewing pleasure an extra 45 minutes, my baby wouldn’t sleep, only scream and their dog barked all night. For those reasons alone, I’m going to have to skip it out of principle. I’m not sure what principle, but damn it, someone has to pay for my night of hell!

  • Jenny, you are HILARIOUS!

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