Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood
Synopsis: The film that takes us back to where it all began… James T. Kirk attends Starfleet Academy and then takes command of the Starship Enterprise. However, the history of the future is not quite the same as has been implied in previous Trek chapters.
A review by Film Nerd.
Up until this point, I have avoided reviewing my favourite franchises. I felt for a very good reason too… I am such a gushing fanboy, that my reviews would be decidedly one-sided and biased by my collected knowledge of the entire saga, rather than focussing on the individual film. This brief preamble explains exactly why there are no reviews here of anything from Lord of the Rings, James Bond, or, indeed, nothing from Star Trek. The fact I feel I can now review them is more a reflection of the fact that I have quite a number of reviews under my belt now that may show me as an impartial film critic, that I can perhaps let myself indulge a little bit in absolute impartiality.
An impartiality that had me see J.J. Abrams Star Trek a total of three times at the cinema, dragging Bride of Film Nerd with me on at least two of those occasions (forgiven mainly due to the fact that the second visit was our first trip to IMAX). I did not walk in entirely blind, I had already been made aware of the MacGuffin, that villain Bana’s Nero and Nimoy’s Spock had travelled back in time, altering the timeline in the process. Quite frankly, this was a stroke of genius, in one move freeing ther film from over forty years of Star Trek cannon. This gave the script more room to breathe, and also let the individual actor’s develop the character’s for themselves, while keeping enough respect for the original cast to keep the spirit of the original characters alive.
Pine’s Kirk is a perfect example of this. Pine was provided with the “what if?” scenario of James Kirk growing up without the support of his father. As a result, he is a delinquent who lacks direction. That is until he is recruited to Starfleet by Greenwood’s Captain Christopher Pike (a reference to the character who in the original series captained the Enterprise before Kirk, played by Jeffrey Hunter). Pike’s mentor role brings out something in Kirk more familiar, a rascal, but one that accepts responsibility, much more the Shatner style Kirk of old. Zachary Quinto is also amazing, not only looking like a young Leonard Nimoy, but capturing the essence of the character brilliantly. He is perhaps more prone to emotion than the original, but this is fitting given his younger age and his continued struggle with his human half. Of the lead three, I would have loved to see more McCoy. Urban does a fantastic job capturing the character of the irascible country doctor with the heart of gold made famous by DeForest Kelley. He even is more striking as a ladies man type than the original, which used to be hinted that the younger McCoy was prior to the series.
The rest of the cast does very well. Saldana as Uhura not only looks smoking, but is a very fierce and capable officer. Cho and Yelchin imbue their Sulu and Chekov respectively with the right mix of officer material and sense of humour. When it comes to sense of humour though, Scotty was always great comic relief in the series, and Pegg’s version takes full advantage of this fact. Aside from the main cast, Bana’s villain has an understandable motive, but is perhaps too consumed with the need for revenge to develop too far. His power comes more from advanced technology than from sheer intellect, so Khan he is not. Given this is an origin story though and there are already 7 main character story arcs to follow, this may also have been necessary for the scripting of the film. Greenwood is amazing in this film, the first which I can recall seeing him in. As may be clear from other reviews on this site, I have subsequently become quite a fan of his. Finally, I get to Nimoy. He is the connective thread between this film and all that has passed before. For many, he IS Star Trek. So his presence is what makes this whole movie gel. He doesn’t have to do anything beyond slip into a role he is comfortable with just as he is his own skin, and as a true fan, I could ask for nothing more.
Abrams was very clear in making this fan, he was not necessarily a Star Trek fan. He made it clear though he respected exactly why the franchise was loved by so many. In the end, he crafted a film that he felt he would want to go and watch. In doing so, he opened up the franchise to the uninitiated. After all, my evidence for this was Bride of Film Nerd, who enjoyed it enough to acquiesce to see it again with me. In making the product more open, I acknowledge there was a backlash. Those that know Abrams was a Star Wars fan insisted on seeing similarities in this film with the former franchise. To me, this is frankly bollocks. The opening scene of a large Starfleet vessel drifting past the camera may have been an obvious homage, but beyond that I think those naysayers were grasping at straws. Come on guys, Star Wars does not have copyright on ice planets!! No, despite this film being open to a larger audience, it is quintessentially Star Trek, with the message for a bright future for humanity well and truly in tact.
5 stars (out of a possible 5)