Star Trek (12A)
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg
Director: J. J. Abrams
Running time: 127 minutes
In the 43 years that Star Trek has graced our screens, I have never really cared for it that much (having said that, I have not been alive for that whole time either). Only watching it sporadically, mildly knowing the characters and hardly caring for any of the other films, I am certain in one thing: I am not a Trekker (and it is with this admission I should probably also admit to quite enjoying the geek factor that Star Trek causes amongst its loyal fan-base). Nevertheless, after watching the trailer in the cinema earlier this year there was a large part of me that just had to see it. Even the IMAX at 2:30am was unable to dampen my spirits.
Now to boldly go where no non-Trekker has gone before (sorry): I was absolutely shocked at how awe-inspiring this film was. It not only managed to surpass all sorts of storytelling loopholes (and create new arcs and curves for the characters), but it also kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours, with its lively script, great score and a cast that was exactly what the Doctor had ordered. Literally… onboard the Enterprise… in Kirk’s case.
The scene is set with the birth of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), whose father sacrifices his life to save that of his pregnant wife and soon-to-be son, by locking himself onto a Federation starship to free the others. He saved 800 lives that day. His son, however, decides not to live the high starship life and instead chooses to arrogantly waste his days in slum bars in the Midwest, unsuccessfully chatting up the likes of Uhura (Zoe Saldana), who refuses to be sold by his charms – and whose fake eyelashes I found it hard not to concentrate on. Our favourite pointy-eared friend, Spock (Zachary Quinto), also has his back-story introduced to us, whereby his endless quest to follow logic over feeling (being both Vulcan and human) leaves us somewhat perturbed on his behalf. He continues to hide his emotional side, only regrettably showing his angered side when comments about his mother are passed. He decides that because he is half-human he belongs on earth.
It is Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) that convinces Kirk to join the Starship, using Kirk’s father as emotional leverage. Pike challenges Kirk to become a better Captain that his father was and we see Kirk go aboard the Starship the next day, where he meets McCoy (Karl Urban); the beginning of a beautiful friendship. As time passes, the others are all performing fabulously at the Starship Academy and are awarded for their merits. Kirk, however, is ruthlessly busy rejecting education and rebels against the system – quite spectacularly engaging in debauched matters with a sexy green Orion cadet (you all know who I’m talking about) than being busy studying for the Kobayashi Maru test (which he has been allowed to re-take for the third time). He still manages to get ahead, much to Spock’s chagrin, so it does make you wonder about his tactics and ideas.
All of this is then rudely interrupted when a distress call indicates that Vulcan (Spock’s other home planet) is under attack. The antagonist, Nemo (Eric Bana), comes from the future and is out to destroy Vulcan. His gigantic Romulan ego is bruised and what better to suit it than an extraordinarily sized spaceship with which to wreak havoc. The crew is then formed by merit and they set about exacting revenge, with Spock’s intelligence and Kirk’s superciliousness fighting it out along the way. There’s some fantastically snappy dialogue between these which keeps you on your toes. A great aspect of the film is that everybody has their moment to shine — you get to see why they’re so brilliant at what they do.
Chekov’s (Anton Yelchin) accent does leave you chortling, not intentionally so on occasion, but you are with him all the way as he is able to beam the crew off Vulcan. It was an ‘all hail’ moment when Spock runs into his future self with Star Trek veteran Leonard Nimoy using his usual screen presence to show the youngsters how to maintain one’s prestige in his old age. I can bet that, without a doubt, that both Pine and Quinto felt a little tingly inside to be working alongside Nimoy. Scotty’s appearance was true to its origins, as Simon Pegg keeps the Scottish accent intact, but also brings with him a little comedic friend. I have no idea why (excuse the ignorance if he serves a purpose from earlier times) he has a little Gremlin-like sidekick, but he does prove to be amusing. Perhaps the writers felt as if the comedic relief needed his very own comedic relief? Whatever the reason, he’s adorably funny – in an unpleasant looking kind of way.
A friend recently said, “There is only one constant about a Star Trek film; it always brings out the pedants” — and this is in no way wrong. Although there are some glaring mistakes in this feature, it does not fail to excite. It does strike me as the kind of genre that the continuity staff should be working all hours to make sure there are no problems to report… Captain. Very minor things like; no sound in space and Sulu’s fencing being (cleverly) written in and then having him perform a backflip (I wasn’t aware that fencers were taught how to jump around mid-air as part of their skill set) — I could go on, but I won’t. These are but minor details. All I can say is that it’s a good thing James wasn’t called Tiberius as his mother wanted. Imagine screaming out that mouthful during a night of pleasure…
Alas, I digress.
This Star Trek film will not only make you laugh, you’ll also leave feeling a sense of calm and pontification; making you contemplate the important things in life. I await the new Star Trek with great anticipation and an eagerness I have never felt for this franchise. Maybe it’s the young, sprightly cast with their fresh-from-the-salon haircuts and whippersnapper ways? Who knows. All I know is that I’ll be happy to be an honorary Trekker that day. They truly have made it with a new generation and for a new generation.
Star Trek gets a bedazzling four and a half from me.