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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Star Trek

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STAR TREK - BACK TO THE FUTURE PAST


There is a good reason for die hard Star Trek fans (commonly known as Trekkies) to be happy. I am pleased to report the highly anticipated Star Trek feature was worth the wait and by the looks of it should even attract a whole new generation of fans.   Director J.J. Abrams (the dude behind TV’s Alias and Lost) injects new life, plus lots of action and wit, into the franchise making it the best installment ever based on the iconic TV series created by the late Gene Rodenberry. This is one time expectations didn’t fall short.

The script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman acts as a prequel, weaving an exciting new adventure into the storyline that takes us back to the beginning of the Starship Enterprise and explores the early days that led up to the formation of its now famous crew.  Needless to say, “Star Trek Origins” would be a fitting title. The cast who inhabit the younger counterpart roles of their TV predecessors do a bang up job in capturing the spirit and essence of their character as well as delivering entertaining, strong performances.

Right from the start, the tone is set with an explosive action sequence that introduces us to James T. Kirk at the moment of his birth during at attack on the U.S.S. Kelvin, the spaceship commanded by his father. The villain is an angry, vengeance seeking, tattoo headed Romulen named Nero (an almost unrecognizable Eric Bana) who is set on destroying the Star Fleet Federation and annihilating Earth.

Fast forward. The story proceeds by initially going back and forth between the formative years of both James T. Kirk and Spock, as preteens and young adults. Both clearly have issues. From early on we see a fatherless James as a rebellious preteen with little regards to authority and later as a smart but unfocused, cocky, womanizing young man, eager to engage in fights before morphing into a self assured, confident captain of the Enterprise.  Spock on the other hand, as a youngster on the planet Vulcan is ridiculed by others for being a half breed, the offspring of a human mother (poignantly portrayed by Winona Ryder in a small role) and Vulcan father. Later, a grown up conflicted Spock, (Zachary Quinto of TV’s Heroes) is questioned by his father (Ben Cross) to decide which path he will choose to take, since he is clearly torn between giving in to his emotional human side or that of pure logic, the defining Vulcan trait (other than those pointed ears).

Now, back to Kirk (Chris Pine).  After a recruitment pitch by Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to join the Star Fleet and make something of his life, he comes in contact with future crewmates including sarcastic Chief Medical Officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban, a standout with some of the best lines), Lt. Sulu (John Cho), the heavily Russian accented prodigy Ensign Checkov (Anton Yeltzin), engineer “Scotty” (Simon Pegg) and a familiar smart beauty, communications officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana).  But, it is at the Academy where Kirk encounters a fellow classmate, Spock. They immediately form a mutual dislike and butt heads, having no idea how each will impact the other’s life and eventually embrace as lifelong friends.

The plot kicks into gear during the maiden voyage of the Enterprise for what is believed to be a Vulcan rescue mission but instead is a trap by the aforementioned evil alien, Nero. He’s set on getting even with Spock, whom he blames for a future catastrophic event which destroyed his home planet, its inhabitants and those he loved.  Time travel, a black hole, red matter, alternate realities, and the appearance of an elderly and wiser Spock (Leonard Nimoy in an extended cameo) all are part of the scenario.  If there is one flaw it is in this somewhat complicated plot device.  It takes seeing the movie more than once to follow and even then it may leave you wondering what the heck they are talking about since neither plausibility nor logic matter in the scheme of things.

That aside, this Star Trek adventure never has a sluggish moment and consistently keeps the viewer’s interest with dynamite special effects, eye catching production design, and adrenaline pumping action and fight scenes to make it a top notch thrill ride.

Star Trek works as an affectionate tribute to the TV series. Mr. Rodenberry must be looking down with a smile knowing that he left a legacy that is alive and well and moving along at warped speed.  Like the new Batman series, Star Trek goes boldly where the series has never gone before.  Count me on board for the next mission, for that is a sure bet.

A couple of footnotes:

Audiences at the Las Vegas preview screening I attended at Brenden Theatres at the Palms were given a special treat when actor Clifton Collins, Jr. who is featured in Star Trek, made a brief appearance to help promote the movie.  Check out the photo.
cliftoncollinsstartrek
Clifton Collins
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
Also, my advice to insure the best movie experience possible is to see Star Trek in either digital format for the most clear and crisp images on screen or, if you prefer an up close, in your face experience, IMAX is the way to go.  My first viewing was seeing it in digital at Rave Theatre. The second was at Brenden’s IMAX Theatre.