Friday, May 8, 2009

"Fire everything!" A Review of "Star Trek"

Okay, lets face it, Hollywood is pretty much creatively bankrupt. This is why we see so many remakes and reboots of old movie or television series. Remakes/Reboots are generally not all that great; some end up just being horrible parodies (“Starsky and Hutch”, “The Brady Bunch”), some just totally do not get what the original was about (“Lost in Space”), and even the ones that really try to be faithful often come up lacking (“Friday the 13th”).

I grew up watching “Star Trek”, so the idea of doing “Star Trek: The College Years” worried me, and the early trailers did little to make me confident. Still, I looked forward to seeing it, because even if it sucks it could be fun to pick apart. Well, lets just say that my fears were totally unfounded.

The film opens with the birth of James Tiberius Kirk, and follows both him and Spock briefly through their respective childhoods up to academy age. When Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”) finds a young Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) picking a fight with a group of Starfleet cadets, he suggests to him that he if he was half the man his father was, he could make officer in Starfleet in four years. After some soul searching, Kirk decides that he's going to do it in three.

As the film progresses we meet Spock (Zachary Quinto: “Heroes”), the extremely flirty Uhura (Zoe Saldana), the gruff cynical McCoy (Karl Urban), the willing, if slightly inept Sulu (John Cho: “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”), the extremely young Chekov (Anton Yelchin: “Charlie Bartlett”), and of course the engineering genius, Scotty (Simon Pegg: “Shaun of the Dead”). While the physical resemblances to the original actors are hit and miss, the mannerisms and characterizations or mostly spot on from Spock's dry even way of speaking, to McCoy's occasionally over dramatic moments. Even with new faces, it was a treat to see the old characters of my childhood on the big screen again.

One thing most of these types of movies try to do is shoehorn in every character cliché, and this movie is no exception. Sulu fences, Kirk has his thing for green women, Spock mind melds and neck pinches, Chekov cannot say his “v”s, McCoy is “A doctor, not a...”, and Scotty is “Givin' her all she's got”. In fact the only “Star Trek: TOS” clichés I missed were Kirk getting his shirt ripped, and McCoy saying “He's dead, Jim”. Unlike most remakes, it all works in this film; nothing ever feels too forced or too much like high budget fan fiction, and all of it was well received by the audience.

Some could criticize this film for having too many gags, from Scotty and the ship's water system, to McCoy chasing Kirk around in one scene and repeatedly injecting him in the neck with things that are causing comical problems, there is quite a bit of humour in the film. For those people, I would like to remind them of Kirk up to his shoulders in Tribbles; there are plenty of that kind of humour in the original series.

The only criticisms I have about this film are small ones, for the movie is not perfect, but it's pretty close. There is a romantic relationship between two characters (I'm not going to spoil it), that neither myself nor my wife (who is the far greater Trekkie of the two of us) can think of anything in canon for. Since when do Romulans have face tattoos? Why are there no ground based defenses in the future? If a ship parked in Earth's orbit today and started drilling a hole in San Francisco Bay we would at least lob a few missiles at it. That's pretty much it for criticisms though, as pretty much everything else in this movie works as close to perfect as you could possibly hope for.

There is really no reason to not go see this movie if you consider yourself any sort of geek, nerd, Trekkie, or just a fan of action sci-fi. The cast is great, the script is fantastic, and this is easily the best thing that J.J. Abrams has ever had his name attached to. This movie is two hours of 99% pure awesome, so turn off your computer and go see it now!

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