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Movie Review: Star Trek Carves Out A New Frontier For Adventure Films

May 8, 2009

By Shannon

There's a new crew in town

There's a new crew in town

If Adventure has a name it’s  Indiana Jones Captain Kirk.  Sorry Mr. Spielberg, but you’ve been schooled.  This is the kind of movie everyone had prayed Indiana Jones and the Pile of Crap would be. It’s got a swashbuckling, charismatic protaganist who takes us on an action laden adventure. He (James T. Kirk) is everything that the Indiana Jones of my childhood memories was, and he brings fun back to the movies. Let’s erase the bitter memory of Wolverine from last weekend and hail Star Trek as the harbinger of the summer movie season.  Director JJ Abrams  (Lost, Alias, Mission Impossible 3) does the impossible and has created a movie that I believe will be immensely enjoyed by Trekkies and casual movie goers alike. All you people who were  hand wringing and eschewing Abrams’ abilities for the last few years should bow down to the greatness of Mr. Abrams and apologize, profusely.

The movie starts off with a bang, and an emotional wallop to boot and continues to deliver exhilarating thrills for the next two hours. The early sequences show flashes of  Kirk’s (Chris Pine) childhood and his self destructive balls-to-the-walls attitude toward everything handed to him in life. In a wicked car chase scene, The Beastie Boys “Sabotage” is put to great use as it blares in the background while we see one of many encounters with the law that Kirk is destined for. Years later, Kirk is recruited for the Starfleet (a peace keeping humanitarian organization) by Chris Pike (Bruce Greenwood).

During his training years he befriends Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), and becomes bitter enemies with Vulcan Spock (a terrific Zachary Quinto). Eric Bana (in ultra creepy mode) plays Captain Nero who is trying to destroy all the planets of the Starfleet federation as vindication for destruction of his native planet Romula. The inhabitants of Starship Enterprise try to defeat Nero before he can destroy the other planets. There is a time-loop component (I usually glaze over at such conventions, but it works in this case) that allows cultural icon Leonard Nimoy (original Spock) to make a goose-bump inducing appearance. I won’t give away much more of the plot, but I’ll mention a few things that made this movie such fun.

1) The humor. There are some seriously funny scenes in the movie, again reminding me of the Jones chronicles of years gone by. McCoy and Kirk make this partly a buddy movie, and they play off each other very well comedically. Spock’s deadpan, emotionless logic is fodder for laughs as well. In my opinion, the movie straddled the line quite nicely between being funny and cheezy. Snappy zingers put this a notch above other “action” movies.

2) The casting. Zachary Quinto was born to play new Spock. Leonard Nimoy has been synonymous with Spock for decades, but by god Quinto owns the role in this movie. Chris Pine is reminiscent of Matt Damon as he appeared in the Bourne movies and Harrison Ford in the first three Indy movies. He is an everyday guy who gets the living bejebus beat out of him time and time again, and he only perseveres because of his scrappy determination, not super human powers. The only odd casting choice was Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother. Her makeup was obvious, and I don’t know why they did not just cast an older actress instead.

3) The action is non-stop and there is no appropriate time to refill your popcorn tub. The special effects are so good you won’t know they are there, they integrate seamlessly into every scene.

4) The homage to its source material. Abrams clearly took care to respect the series. He keeps the super-dorky utilitarian uniforms with the Starfleet insignia, he incorporated Nimoy into a key role and he uses most of the original characters. How Scotty discovered the formula to beam up to warp speed ships is cleverly revealed. The original Star Trek theme is played over the ending credits as well.

I don’t throw around the term “spectacular” very often, but I’ll use it for this movie. It’s simply a great 2 hour romp. The bar has been set for the summer onslaught of action films, and it is high indeed. Mr. Spielberg, please take notes.

Frothygirl says see it (but don’t take the little ones, there is a reason it’s PG-13). My score is 9/10 (not to be taken lightly from a non sci-fi gal).



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