DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Franchise-Reviving Prequel Arrives on DVD
This entertaining adventure not only resuscitates a flagging franchise but it just might be the best Star Trek yet. Brilliantly-conceived by director J.J. Abrams as an origins prequel, the picture is a practically-perfect blend of the nostalgic and the new. 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).
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. 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 generated by the contrast in personas of the mercurial Kirk and the relatively-introspective, ever-logical Spock.
At the point of departure, James’ dad (Chris Hemsworth) dies a hero shortly before the birth of his son, when the spaceship he is commanding is destroyed by Nero (Eric Bana), the nefarious ruler of the 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, you won’t even 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 Home Video
DVD Extras: A New Vision: director Abrams' take on the sci-fi series and his efforts to make the prequel feel real, To Boldly Go: the director, writers and producers talk about the challenges of stepping into the closely watched franchise, Casting: about the search for look-alikes who could handle the acting and capture the essence of these mythic characters, Aliens: designers Neville Page and Joel Harlow talk about their new species and the reimagining of the Vulcans and Romulans, deleted scenes: includes "Spock birth," "Klingons take over Narada" and "Prison Interrogation and breakout," optional commentary, and trial games for Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation Net.