Star Trek (2009)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on May 10, 2009 @

Star Trek is one slick, Enterprising movie.

In making yet another Star Trek, the great challenge the filmmakers -- J.J. Abrams, et al. -- faced was to be contemporary while also respecting the past.

The Trekkie franchise goes back to the beginning of Gene Roddenberry's tv series in 1966 -- 45 years ago. Maybe that's a blip in galaxy time, but it's two generations in human time.

Star Trek (2009) passes its obstacles with dazzling, time-warping colors. It's frisky fun yet has the ballast of essential quality.

Star Trek opens with a slam-bang action sequence with Jim Kirk's father sacrificing himself to an enemy attack at the same time his son is being born.

The birth of Jim Kirk announces a new Star Trek that is surprisingly fresh.

It's not just the fresh faces of the cast; it's a fresh sensibility. The whole film is invested with youthful energy and enthusiasm.

Action scenes abound accompanied by a pulsating, booming musical score by Michael Giacchino. And the characters are winsome and vital.

Like Clark Kent, Jim Kirk is a Midwestern farm boy. Fatherless, he is wild and undisciplined. But he has his father's intellect and derring-do.

After a brawl in a bar -- every time Star Trek slows, Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) takes a beating -- he is invited by Commander Cris Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to join the Starfleet Academy.

At the Academy Kirk encounters Spock (Zachary Quinto), and they become rivals. Kirk is a rules-breaker, and Spock as his superior officer rebuffs Kirk for his emotion and daring.

They both become members of the crew on the maiden flight of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and are faced with Nero (Eric Bana), a fierce and vengeful villain, who is seeking destruction of the Federation -- Vulcan and Earth.

Director Abrams's most imaginative connection between the old and the new is when young Kirk is warped into the future and meets the future Spock (Leonard Nimoy) who has arrived in young Kirk's timeline through a wormhole. It is a brilliant stroke. Nimoy is not just a cameo; he is essential to the plot.

What Abrams and his two veteran writing partners -- Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman -- are able to do is add some surprises to the different well-known characters' relationships. They are surprises but they have credibility. It's quite an accomplishment.

The most fortuitous aspect of Star Trek is the casting of Kirk and Spock. Chris Pine is engaging and likable as the frenetic Kirk. Zachary Quinto is cool and formidable as the introspective Spock, who is struggling with the fact that he is from a mixed marriage -- a Vulcan father and a human mother.

The two actors create an evolving chemistry for their characters.

Abrams knows how to take full advantage of his success in television. Abrams created Alias, and co-created Felicity, Lost, and Fringe. He's already scheduled to direct a sequel to Star Trek in 2011.

Abrams dips into the tv pool to cast much of his movie -- Zachary Quinto (Spock) is in Heroes; Karl Urban (Bones) was in Xena: Warrior Princess; Jennifer Morrison (Jim's mother) is in House; Anton Yelchin (Chekov) was in Huff; Zoe Zoldana (Uhuru) was in the little-known but terrific Slings and Arrows; Rachel Gibson (Gaila) was in Alias; Tyler Perry (Starfleet Admiral Barnett) created Tyler Perry's House of Payne; and, of course, we know what Leonard Nimoy was in.

The writers are sensitive to the material, but they're also inventive. In a clever line, Bones says to Spock, "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?"

In Star Trek, the Vulcan mind lives long, and the human mind prospers.

It's stellar brain power.

© 2000-2024 Tony Macklin