May 15th, 2009

STAR TREK (2009) ***

Okay so I don’t have a whole lot of fondness for J.J. Abrams but I figured since I’d seen the last ten Star Trek movies, I’d give this one a shot.  The good news is that it’s a serviceable and consistently entertaining Star Trek flick that features a lot of action and good performances.  The bad news is that the narrative is a bit too cumbersome and ambitious for its own good.


The plot has a Romulan baddie named Nero (Eric Bana) getting pissed that his planet was blown up.  Since he blames Spock (Leonard Nimoy, in his seventh appearance in a Trek flick) for the disaster, he travels back in time to destroy Spock’s home world of Vulcan.  Since the timeframe that Nero transports to is when Kirk, Spock, Uhura and the crew are wet-behind-the-ears cadets, we get to see how everybody met each other and became buddy-buddy.  Eventually the cocky Kirk (Chris Pine) worms his way into the captain’s chair of the Enterprise, much to the chagrin of the tight ass Young Spock (Zachary Quinto).  Together the duo constantly bickers but learns to work as a team in order to stop Nero and kick a little Romulan ass.


I admire Star Trek for being a sequel, a prequel, and a reboot of the franchise all at once.  There is some really good stuff sprinkled throughout that works.  There’s a lot of emphasis on the action and some of the space battles are well done.  Another thing I dug about Trek 11 was the character introductions (the one between McCoy and Kirk is priceless).  Each character was given a nice little moment to shine and seeing how they crossed each other’s paths for the first time was a lot of fun and added an uniqueness to the film that the other flicks in the series lacked.


Which brings me to what I DIDN’T like about the movie.  OK, this “altered timeline” business is cool because it bridges the gap between this film to the original series; bringing it full circle.  Where it goes wrong is when it changes the character dynamic that we’ve grown to love over the years.  Spock is no longer wise and knowledgeable.  Now he’s a whiny little bitch who has temper tantrums like a three year old girl.  Uhura is no longer that chick with excellent posture and a Blue Tooth.  She’s now a full fledged slut.  What’s worse is that Spock and Uhura actually hook up at one point!  (She should change her name to Uwhora.) 


If this kind of stuff pisses me off, then I can only imagine that it will give die hard Trekkies a massive coronary.


That’s alright though because the performances are solid and helps carry the flick whenever it falters.  Leading the pack is Karl Urban as McCoy.  Urban has all of McCoy’s irascible mannerisms down pat.  I think somewhere DeForest Kelley is smiling.  Also doing some stellar work is Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike.  Most Trekkies know that the original Pike met a pretty bad fate, but hopefully the filmmakers will keep him around for the next installment because Greenwood lends a fair amount of gravitas to the proceedings.  As the villain, Bana seems to be channeling Corey Feldman’s performance in Bordello of Blood, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Then there is Simon Pegg as Scotty.  My only complaint with his performance is that there isn’t enough of him.  Whenever he is on screen though, he’s dynamite.


And what can I say about Chris Pine?  This guy is a movie star pure and simple.  I initially had major reservations about this dude, but he hit it out of the park.  He captures the brash, cocksure, bravura that is the embodiment of Kirk and although he doesn’t speak in long… deliberate…. pauses like The Shatman did (I guess we can blame that on the altered timeline horse hockey), he didn’t make me miss Shatner one bit.  


On the other hand, Quinto’s Spock isn’t quite up to snuff.  Sure, the dude bears an uncanny resemblance to Nimoy but his inflection is more like a nerdy douchebag than a logical scholar.  Luckily, Nimoy hangs around long enough to pick up the slack.  It’s funny because Spock used to be my favorite character and I walked away thinking he was such an asshole.  Thanks to Pine’s awesome performance, I’m definitely more of a Kirk man now.  In the end, Old Spock gives Young Spock a good little pep talk, so maybe he won’t be so much of a prick for the next sequel.


As a director, Abrams really needs to stop putting so many damn lens flares in the movie.  After about the 7,132nd time, it got pretty damned annoying.  Stealing the herky-jerky camerawork from Firefly for the space battles was also a bad idea too.  I’m wiling to give the guy a Mulligan on it though since the movie is more or less packed with wall-to-wall action.


And what the Sam Scratch was up with the music?  I never thought I’d hear The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in the 23rd century.  I guess the classics never die. 


This Trek had to set the table and rules for the whole “altered timeline” stuff, so it’s a given that a lot of the dramatics would be a little shaky.  I think with some time and forward thinking, this Trek will grow on me.  (I’m still a little miffed that Abrams made Spock such a prick but I think that error will be adjusted next time around.)  As it stands now, I’d say that this Trek is better than Part 9 but not as good as Part 3.  Who knows, maybe for the next one they’ll get Javier Bardim to play Khan.  That shit would be A-W-E-S-O-M-E.


McCoy gets the best line of the flick when he tells Kirk, “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence!”