Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Flagging Sci-Fi Franchise Resuscitated by Eye-Popping Prequel

Quite frankly, it felt like the end of the line for Star Trek in 2002 when, Nemesis, the 10th film in the fabled sci-fi series, proved to be such an uninspired disappointment. After all, as any Trekkie could tell you, the even-numbered installments, at least until then, could always be counted on to be substantially superior to their odd-numbered counterparts.
So, it is easy to understand why loyal fans have been holding their breaths with trepidation in anticipation of the release of Star Trek 11. But they can now exhale a collective sigh of relief, for this worthy adventure not only resuscitates the flagging franchise but it just might be the best Star Trek yet.
Brilliantly-conceived by director J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3) as an origins prequel, the picture is a practically-perfect blend of the nostalgic and the new. Thus, Baby Boomers are apt to appreciate the intricate back story reintroducing the central characters from the original TV-series, including Spock (Zachary Quinto), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Bones (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and, of course, Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine).
In this regard, it is absolutely delightful discovering the derivation of each of the crew member’s trademark tics, gestures and idiosyncrasies, especially since so much tension is subsequently generated by the contrasting personas of the mercurial Kirk and the relatively-introspective, ever-logical Spock. Meanwhile, youngsters simply interested in an escapist summer blockbuster will undoubtedly find the scintillating, state-of-the-art action sequences riveting, most of which pit Kirk and company in an epic, intergalactic battle against a tattooed race of alien creatures called Romulans.
The point of departure is the year 2387 which is when James’ dad (Chris Hemsworth) dies a hero shortly before his son is born, after the spaceship he is commanding is destroyed by Nero (Eric Bana), the leader of the aforementioned Romulans. Fast-forward twenty years and we find that Kirk has grown into a rudderless rebel more interested in booze, women and fast cars than in following in his father’s footsteps.
But following a bar fight with cadets enrolled at the nearby Starfleet Academy, he is challenged by one of his late father’s admirer’s, Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), to make something of his life. That dare kickstarts Kirk’s metamorphosis. He immediately enrolls in the astronaut school and while in training, one-by-one befriends Spock and the other classmates who will soon join him on the maiden voyage of the Starship Enterprise.
A splendid space saga so spellbinding, I won’t complain about their resurrecting that grammatically-incorrect, infinitive-splitting catchphrase, “To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, violence and brief sexuality.
Running time: 126 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures

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