15 May 2009
Friday night movie review time! I know I don't do this often enough, but I may have to start because several really great movies are coming out this summer, and at least three have already debuted. Tonight, half an hour ago, actually, I got out of "Star Trek" starring Chris Pine as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock with a guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock from the television show), and directed by JJ Abrams. I'll be honest, I went into "Star Trek" with expectations in the middling range. Knowing Abrams' style a bit from his television work on "Fringe" and "LOST" and his other B-monster-movie "Cloverfield," I was skeptical that he would be able to reinvigorate the Trekkie fan base and energize those who did not grow up fans of the TV shows. With some interesting cast choices in "Heroes" star Quinto who plays evil supervillain Sylar on that show, Eric Bana as "Trek" villain Nero, Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Pike, and "Harold and Kumar" star John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, I was afraid the movie would end up being a boring special effects-driven semi-comedy. Boy was I flat out wrong. For those who haven't seen it, here's the basic premise: a really, really pissed-off Romulan from the future who believes that Ambassador Spock is responsible for the destruction of his home planet Romulus, follows Spock through a black hole's singularity to the time of James T. Kirk's birth, disrupting the timeline by killing Kirk's father. That Romulan, Nero, uses his massive mining rig from centuries further in the future with ultra-advanced weaponry to make Spock pay for his alleged crimes by destroying Spock's home planet of Vulcan while he watches from an icy moon, followed by his attempt to destroy all the planets in the Federation to make a safe place for Romulus in the galaxy once and for all. At the same time, Kirk and young Spock in the present timeline start off their relationship as bitter rivals, but finally pull together to defeat Nero in brilliant fashion. The thing which really tied everything in the movie together was the character development. Everything down to the postures of the characters - James Kirk in the captain's chair, for example - was precise enough to strike a chord of memory from William Shatner's role in the 80's. Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Checkov, had trouble accentuating his V's, turning them into W's (think "nuclear wessels") which hearkened back brilliantly to "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." And Karl Urban's Leonard McCoy was as gruff and abrasive as the original Bones back on the TV Enterprise - even so far as the "green-blooded hobgoblin" comment muttered under his breath to Spock on the bridge! More than just hitting memory though, the movie went further, bringing the viewer on the ride through Kirk's journey of self-discovery at the leader he had the potential to become, culminating in his commendation and relief of Captain Pike of command of the Enterprise. Along with spectacular visual graphics which were far and away the most breathtaking images of The Final Frontier I could have imagined and intense space battles, the movie struck the funnybone at precisely the right moments causing me to burst into a fit of laughter along with the rest of the packed house. It was as if Abrams touched on the "Superman" opening credits and the hyperdrive of "Lost in Space" and then took it a million miles further! Finally, the musical ensemble added the perfect compliment to the full storyline. I wondered, as the movie began and the opening credits rolled why I wasn't hearing the familiarly dulcet tones of the Star Trek theme music ringing throughout the theater. It nagged at me until the very end when the closing credits rolled as Kirk received his commission on the new NCC-1701 and those tones sang from the speakers that I realized that the music itself was pulling the storyline along in compliment to the acting, directing, character development, and graphical enhancements! The new - and exceptionally moving - score gave birth, as it were, to the old theme as this new prequel gave way to the opening of what was essentially the Star Trek as we knew it. It's not too often I give a movie such high praise, but this movie not only gets an A for its innovative storyline, exquisite directing and producing, adaptive characters, moving musical ensemble, and realistic-yet-tasteful graphics and special effects, but I have to give it some extra praise for daring to take a huge risk with a new adaptation of an old classic and pulling it off with class, style, and sophistication. JJ Abrams, you are truly genius!
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 23:41