Reviews

Star Trek

4

"The biggest, boldest cinematic outing the franchise has yet seen"

To reboot an age-old but dilapidated franchise, JJ Abrams had to please three distinct groups: the hard-core fans (forum dwellers, Klingon speakers, Trekkies/Trekkers/whatever); the general public (“Sci-fi schmi-fi, is it any good?”) and, yes, a studio with dollars in its eyes in search of a bankable franchise (“How broad can this play? Could the sequel be a Spider-Man 2, or even, gulp, a Dark Knight?”).

Boy, did Paramount pick the right director for the job. The nothing if not reliable Abrams has hit it out of the park, through the clouds and somewhere into hyperspace, delivering the first genuine blockbuster of the year and setting the benchmark for what’s to come.

An exhilarating, breathless, lavishly mounted adventure, it will appease all three pertinent parties (No mean feat – just ask Joss Whedon…).

Phasers are set to stunning in the pre-credit sequence, as we witness the birth of James Tiberius Kirk in the most dramatic of circumstances.

It’s a strikingly powerful opening and leaves you in no doubt: ass is going to be kicked. In quick succession, we see the young Kirk, all rebel without a cause; the student Spock, an angsty mix of conflicting human and Vulcan values; the Starfleet Academy; the Enterprise crew coming together; the Kobayashi Maru test and the first mission…  and we’re not even a third in.

The warp-drive pace never lets up, but the excitement is always resolutely accessible. For the first time on the big screen, Trek has some of that original-trilogy Star Wars sparkle.

Like the ’60s TV show, the relationship between Kirk and Spock is pivotal. Spock’s the meatier of the two roles and Zachary Quinto is perfect, his youth perhaps offering a degree or two less gravitas than Leonard Nimoy (along for the ride in a time-bending twist) but his energy brings something new and compelling to the table – you feel the human/Vulcan, emotion/logic battle that rages within him more vividly than ever before.

Pine is also good in a pleasingly un-PC turn. He has the heavy-drinking, skirt-chasing hothead charm down to a tee, plus a young Shatner-esque (in a good way) comic charisma. If Quinto is the soul, Pine is the motor of the movie, his unabashed brashness propelling the story forward.

Again, his youthful demeanour may make him a tad more Luke than Han, but by sequel time, he should be just right. The dynamic between the two leads ebbs and flows precisely where it should: credit where it’s due to writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who seem to be having even more fun with Gene Roddenberry’s characters than they did with their Transformers script).

All the main crew get their turns. Zoe Saldana is a pleasingly-fleshed out Uhura (with maybe a touch of the Sydney Bristows about her) while Karl Urban is an instantly likeable, reassuringly grouchy Bones.

John Cho’s blade-wielding Sulu and Anton Yelchin’s thickly-accented Chekov are given brief moments to shine while Simon Pegg’s Scotty is knowingly calibrated to please the fanboys and offer comic relief.

Though he’s not the only one bringing the funny, Spock (both incarnations), McCoy, Uhura and co all dispensing decent quips that help warm up the sci-fi palette for a broader popcorn-munching audience.

Compare this with, say, the recent Bond and Trek’s light touch is particularly welcome. Again, not since Star Wars IV-VI has a sci-fi flick had such a, well, likeable tone.

Visually the film has a flair (and indeed flares) that give a hitherto unseen sheen to the Trek universe. When it needs to hit warp speed, it does, with an almost balletic Enterprise pirouetting through battle debris in one scene and plenty of firepower in the space skirmishes.

In general, the design is slick but on the right side of flashy, and Abrams wisely keeps geek-pleasing elements in the frame, but never in the foreground.

Stylistically, short skirts are a few inches less short than their ’60s counterparts, phasers not as clunky, teleportation a tad less synthy. All minor but telling adjustments in this measured, confident reboot.

If there are flaws, they are relatively minor. The young, vibrant cast generate a lot of heat but perhaps not a great deal of smarts (Quinto excepted). Eric Bana’s nefarious Nero – a time-hopper out for bitter revenge – gets the job done but hardly looms as large as a Vader or Khan, depriving the drama of the heft and emotional wrench a more compelling ‘big bad’ could provide.

You could also argue that the overarching reach and soulful optimism of Gene Roddenberry’s vision is not quite there (although with sequels, it should come), leaving the ‘message’ of the film a slightly garbled one about seizing your destiny and fulfilling your potential.

Nonetheless, make no mistake: this really is Star Trek: The Movie, the biggest, boldest cinematic outing the franchise has yet seen. Hardcore fans may suggest it’s “not as good as Khan” but the rest of us (and the box office) will tell a different story.
 
Aubrey Day

Verdict:

A revamp everyone can get on board with, from die-hards to those who wouldn’t be seen dead at a sci-fi convention. Buoyant, buffed and with the promise of even better to come, this is the freshest Trek in decades.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • dholleyuk

      Apr 8th 2009, 13:50

      5

      Great review, spoken well and not giving too much away of the film. As a hard Trekker I really cant wait to see the film, I do have some reservations but I think they will be turned around as I keep asking one question. Back in 1966 if Gene had been given $150 million would Star Trek be bigger & different then it is today. Keep the news coming on this film as less then a month is still to long!

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    • spudmonkeysteve

      Apr 9th 2009, 9:21

      3

      The Abrams effect strikes again, PT Barnum would be proud of his ability to prevent average cinematic fare in a stylish package. I am of course going off his cinematic and televisual output to date; MI:III was Alias for the big screen and a vehicle for Tom Cruises ego with a rubbish ending and a below average turn from Philip Seymour Hoffman as a walking cliche of a villain, Cloverfield was a naff Godzilla knock off with nauseating camera angles and ridiculous looking monsters (the main monster looking somewhat like the one in publicity shots for Star Trek) and Lost has recently become the senile convoluted mess it always had the potential to become asking questions that are answered with questions and killing off characters for the sake of forcing drama, rather than garnering it through genuinely good writing. I will see and judge the film on its own merits but Abrams technique of making change for changes sake (particularly in terms of the Pimp My Ride version of the Enterprise) does not inspire confidence. I look forward to the performances of the actors as, if there is one thing I cannot fault Abrams for, he has a habit of casting excellent actors, now if only his films were better.

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    • spudmonkeysteve

      Apr 9th 2009, 9:21

      3

      The Abrams effect strikes again, PT Barnum would be proud of his ability to prevent average cinematic fare in a stylish package. I am of course going off his cinematic and televisual output to date; MI:III was Alias for the big screen and a vehicle for Tom Cruises ego with a rubbish ending and a below average turn from Philip Seymour Hoffman as a walking cliche of a villain, Cloverfield was a naff Godzilla knock off with nauseating camera angles and ridiculous looking monsters (the main monster looking somewhat like the one in publicity shots for Star Trek) and Lost has recently become the senile convoluted mess it always had the potential to become asking questions that are answered with questions and killing off characters for the sake of forcing drama, rather than garnering it through genuinely good writing. I will see and judge the film on its own merits but Abrams technique of making change for changes sake (particularly in terms of the Pimp My Ride version of the Enterprise) does not inspire confidence. I look forward to the performances of the actors as, if there is one thing I cannot fault Abrams for, he has a habit of casting excellent actors, now if only his films were better.

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    • avoidz

      Apr 9th 2009, 14:15

      Pretty much what I expected. Reviews raving about the razzle dazzle, then quietly mentioning the lack of intelligence and story. I'm sure most Gen-Y audiences will be satisfied enough having their eyeballs stroked with a visual orgasm.

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    • longshot

      Apr 9th 2009, 14:15

      5

      An excellent review, thoughtful of both the film itself and the ramifications of the revitalized Star Trek. Everything I've seen so far suggests that the new film will retain the humanistic spirit of Star Trek -- the adventure, the balance of logic and intellect with spirit and emotion, the sense of exploration and danger... only magnified, rendered in high definition, and presented with an inimitable style that fits with the contemporary 21st century audience. Yes, the ship is different. Yes, the crew is younger and portrayed by a set of fresh new actors and actresses. Yes, the special effects and action sequences and camera direction step outside the narrow boundaries set by Trek precedent. Yes, this is precisely the treatment and artistry that Star Trek has so long deserved but never even tasted. This is not the B/B+ Trek film that has come before and pleased the staunch, hard-nosed Trek traditionalists. It is a genuine A-list film, a blockbuster as the Total Film article calls it. It's sure to unsettle some people, even as it pleases millions more. I, for one, am ready to be unsettled. I couldn't be more eager for May 8th.

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    • KerrAvon

      Apr 9th 2009, 18:25

      3

      Sounds all flash in a pan and lacks any real substance and yet it still manages to get 4 stars, I can't wait for a review of GI Joe or god forbid Wolverine

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    • bombdrop

      Apr 10th 2009, 17:17

      Why is this not surprising coming from someone who probably has only ever even heard of Star Trek in passing? Absolutely nothing about this movie is anything close to being what Star Trek is. What a waste of time to read this pathetic rview.

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    • 10010010

      Apr 11th 2009, 10:15

      5

      so there are minor problems but i am sure simon pegg will practice his scotish voice and in the end it will be the best since james doohan otther than the minor problems i think this film is briliant

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    • scabo33

      Apr 11th 2009, 16:33

      4

      it will not satisfly everybody....everyone knows that!! Lost is genius...anybody who says otherwise has no patience...it requires thinking to watch the show...which puts a lot of people off...

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    • spudmonkeysteve

      Apr 14th 2009, 10:41

      Lost doesn't require thinking, it thinks it does and, like most of Abrams output, thinks it is way cleverer than it is. In many ways it is sufficiently clever to fool the majority of viewers into thinking it is genius but in fact is a series of would be big reveals. It continually scrabbles for new and interesting plot twists and therefore becomes predictable. They continually kill off characters just to add a jolt of drama to the flagging plot meaning that it is impossible to invest in the characters because chances are one or more of your favourites will not last the series, it also deadens the impact when a beloved character does die because the audience have become jaded to their fate. Of course all this is just my opinion but I could not let an accusation such as 'if you don't get its because you don't like to think' stand, an accusation that is, in itself, unintelligent

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    • AYBGerrardo

      Apr 28th 2009, 22:12

      4

      Just got back from a preview screening! Fantastic film - I'll be very happy if there's a better popcorner this year! Only significant flaw was that whole 'alternate reality' rubbish. Didn't help the plot much at all. Anyway, the film isn't the deepest ever made but it isn't at all shallow either. It's also intelligent in its own way. A must see for non-fans. Fans will probably judge the film on whether the alternate reality stuff explains it all satisfactorily for them.

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    • Dravenuk

      Apr 29th 2009, 17:19

      It makes me laugh how a lot of die hard Trekkers are making out that prior to this film the franchise was soooo intelligent. Come on. Have you seen Star Trek 5? Generations? Insurrection? Nemesis? They're about as stupid as you can get. Even the good films aren't exactly intelectual fodder. Lets keep some perspective here.

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    • Polishka13

      May 8th 2009, 11:57

      5

      Yeah, they are right. This is Star Trek: The Movie.

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    • Juliette

      May 8th 2009, 20:09

      Some of the decisions made are a bit too drastic, but it was good fun. I would only put it 5th in order of Star Trek movie preference (if anyone's interested, it goes 2, 8, 6, 4, 11, 3, 7, 9, 1, 10, 5) but I'm glad everyone seems to like it so much as that means there may be mroe in the near future.

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    • pimpernel

      May 10th 2009, 11:54

      5

      I need more stars!!!! It was so brilliant! I can't stop thinking about it! Damn, I need HD so I can watch it properly when it comes out!

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    • graham6

      May 11th 2009, 23:47

      5

      This was so fantastic! There's action, aliens, Leonard Nimoy, a good script, great set pieces, fantastic performances- what more do you want. Instant classic. This is going to be really hard to be, even by Transformers standards.

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    • MikeyRix

      May 12th 2009, 20:32

      5

      My God. Wow. I had a very, very basic knowledge of "Star Trek" before going to see this but when my very-hard-to-impress-slightly-Trekkie-father came home and frothed at the mouth about it I expected it to be good...but not this good. Great acting on all parts, great music, great actors and...wow, just everything is bloody great. Hard to fault. Seeing it again Sunday, cannot WAIT.

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    • joeymac

      May 14th 2009, 20:39

      3

      It's a really fun reboot. The whole opening sequence was ace - almost shed a tear! The acting is solid, as is the script, though the core story is pretty weak. Pure, summer cinema. (Is it just me, or does it really annoy anyone else when folks insist on over-using exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!? Argh, I get it, one will do! See?)

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    • duncan1964

      May 15th 2009, 13:54

      4

      Hughely enjoyable sci fi caper, introducing us to the crew of the Enterprise on their first mission. Casting is faultless, with Karl Urban a real standout, and the film avoids the trap of most genesis stories by getting us straight to the action and introducing the characters as it goes along. Also should be comended for keeping the sense of humour from the original series. Great popcorn adventure, but not for genre fans who like their sci fi slightly more serious

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    • giveital68

      May 16th 2009, 2:30

      5

      by far the best movie of the year so far story was great it gave a lot ok closer on kirk and spock and bones was great great work jj

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    • zakmccormack

      May 21st 2009, 16:22

      5

      Im not usually a fan of anything Star Trek but I saw the trailers for this and though it looked pretty good so i went to see it the other day and was very pleased I did go and see it because it was a very good film. J.J Arbrams with this film has become one of my favourite directors

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    • Wrekit

      Jun 14th 2009, 0:21

      5

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    • Wrekit

      Jun 14th 2009, 0:21

      5

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    • hulk68

      Jul 12th 2009, 13:19

      4

      Really enjoyable. Excellent Characterization and leaves you wanting more.

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    • Phoenix81

      Jul 28th 2009, 14:52

      4

      Never been a Star Trek fan, although I have caught a few films. This was a breath of fresh air. Not too heavy and really spectalcular - JJ does it again, Roll on the next one!!

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    • Ali1748

      Dec 4th 2009, 21:56

      5

      Outstanding one of the best times I have had in the cinema for a long time.

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    • cuddlycutebaby

      Sep 27th 2010, 11:59

      5

      very fabulous movie indeed. nice acting and direction as well as storyline. Vigrx Plus

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    • cuddlycutebaby

      Oct 4th 2010, 9:09

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    • cuddlycutebaby

      Oct 4th 2010, 9:11

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    • cuddlycutebaby

      Oct 4th 2010, 9:13

      5

      i like it very much... HP Cartridge

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      Oct 27th 2010, 9:59

      5

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    • kobirana

      Dec 30th 2010, 12:35

      Have you seen Star Trek 5? Generations? Insurrection? Nemesis? They're about as stupid as you can get. Even the good films aren't exactly intelectual fodder. Lets keep some perspective here. Pneumonia symptoms

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