Star Trek is a first-class piece of entertainment, and that goes for more than just the Star Trek core base. This is an action-adventure film done in classic style, and one that will be accessible to anyone. Take it from me, as someone who has never seen an episode of Star Trek anything: this is an endlessly entertaining, well-made film. Director J.J. Abrams and his team have executed the most successful reboot since Batman Begins, and that’s saying a lot. What they’ve done initially seemed impossible on paper.
Star Trek ’09 serves as a prequel to Star Trek everything. The film’s opening sequence chronicles the dramatic birth of James T. Kirk (played as an adult by Chris Pine). As a youngster Kirk is a problem child, yet incredibly apt. He is recruited (or more accurately, dared), to join the Starfleet, a group dedicated to interstellar democracy. It is at the Starfleet Academy that Kirk meets his match, Spock (Quinto), a half-human, half-Vulcan (another planetary race – bear with me, here) who is essentially a walking encyclopedia. The two feud over strategy and data, but they must eventually join forces to take down Nero (Bana), who is bent on inter-planetary domination.
Abrams was given $150 million to make this thing, and the money definitely wasn’t spent on eats. The visual effects on display here are dazzling and awe-inspiring. The action scenes, of which there are numerous, are refreshing devoid of bungee-cord camerawork and filmed to maximize the experience. The script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is fluid, cohesive, and filled with well-timed laughs. The most surprising aspect is how well the comedy and banter works, and it will pay dividends for mainstream audiences.
Compared to the casting, the rest is window dressing. This is a character-driven film, and the young cast is nothing short of superb. Chris Pine, who’s been largely unknown to this point, turns in a career-making performance as the young Captain Kirk. He has a knack for comic timing and can turn authoritative when the script calls for it. Zachary Quinto is similarly impressive as Spock, and his scenes with Spock Prime (played, of course, by Leonard Nimoy) verify that the torch has been passed. The supporting cast is memorable and pitch perfect, particularly Simon Pegg, who gets to belt every famous Scotty line there is.
Abrams has brought Star Trek to the mainstream. As one of the completely uninitiated, Star Trek delivers all we can ask for in a summer film. Many will be surprised by just how good this is, although the jury is still out on the reaction from the devoted, longtime fan base. It’s rare that a reboot makes the audience yearn for the next installment, but Star Trek does just that. This is premier summer entertainment.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Length: 128 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content.
Theatrical Release: May 8, 2009
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman. Based upon the TV series by Gene Roddenberry.
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban