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USA 2009
Directed by
JJ Abrams
122 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
4 stars

Star Trek

Synopsis: Star Trek Rebooted. A young Kirk and his crew face a future enemy with the help of a future friend.

In the midst of prequel-fever, Star Trek has the perfect excuse to go back and start again – time travel. It’s an obvious and familiar standby, allowing free rein for “retconning” (ie. mucking around with) the accepted canon of the series and leaving familiar characters and facts askew.

Star Trek opens with a blast and with our stalwart James T Kirk (Chris Pine) still a baby. Kirk Jnr is being jettisoned to safety from his father’s ship, as Captain Kirk Snr battles a massive and mysterious ship captained by an evilly prostheticised Eric Bana. Kirk Snr abides with the ‘women and children first’ motto and dutifully goes down with his ship. The lack of a father figure leads to fast cars and disrespect for authority, as Kirk Jnr grows up to moon about the spaceship construction yards on Earth and pick fights with Federation officer cadets in local bars. He has the best elements of the original Kirk played by William Shatner (the cool arrogance and humor) and little of the worst (the vague sleaziness).

A friend of his father who rescues Kirk from a barfight turns out to be Captain Pike of the Starship Enterprise. Pike wangles Kirk an enlistment in the Federation where he starts bumping into Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). These familiar Star Trek faces are called into action in their first mission when the massive and mysterious ship returns and starts drilling into the core of Spock’s home planet, Vulcan.

The frenetic style of the action scenes comes to the fore in an early and frankly exciting scene as Kirk and Sulu space-jump through the upper atmosphere to tackle Bana’s enormous drill bit. They render Bana impotent a moment too late and Planet Vulcan explodes, leaving Spock feeling uncharacteristically but understandably emotional. It seems the massive and mysterious ship is from the future, having traveled back in time to pick a bone with the elderly Spock who comes back through time a bit later. It all makes sense in the end.

In terms of character complexity, this is Spock’s movie. Highlights of his journey through childhood, adolescence, maturity and old-age feel cohesive and convincing, throughout the tumult of Kirk’s more action-orientated journey to become Captain and ultimately save the day. Leonard Nimoy’s substantial role brings welcome gravitas, and the humour goes up several notches when engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg) is rescued from an icy research station. Director Abrams brings real interest to the characters and their early story, with the performances providing great interpretations of the young officers. There is a strong sense all cast and crew had plenty of respect for the Star Trek franchise (I wish they wouldn’t use the f-word).

All in all, this eleventh Star Trek film defies the previous trend of its odd-numbered brethren (which generally went down the critical gurgler). It successfully reboots the series for the action-orientated men/women/Vulcans of today’s modern audience, whilst bearing the Leonard Nimoy seal of approval. Go forth and prosper!




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