Movie Review: Star Trek (2009)

Article by Nathan A. Thompson

    Star Trek (2009)

Editor's Note: At the request of the original author, who worried their review might have been too glowing, a second opinion was written as a companion piece, and is posted at the bottom of this article.

Before I get into the new film, how about a little full disclosure -- I love Star Trek. I love the original series, Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, not so much.

I love or like every film, save for Star Trek the Motion Picture, but Ye Gods, Man! Every franchise has its misfires. Star Trek just managed to have the most massive one first. Wrath of Khan is the high water mark for Trek films, and "All Good Things" the final episode of Next Generation has been my favorite bit of Trek, period.

So, how does the new film measure up? This was the most fun I've had at the theatre since I learned that trick where you cut a hole in the bottom of the popcorn bucket.

The Needs of the Many

The film begins by ripping a literal hole in the fabric of space-time, exploding the past and birthing the future with a heroic sacrifice for the greater good. And it never lets up. This film moves fast. There's no checking your watch, no wondering how much longer, no wondering when we're going to get to the "good part." You grin the whole time. You're eight years old again. It's wonderful.

Yes a huge part of the plot is time travel. Yes, it changes Star Trek continuity. No, I do not care. The filmmakers have managed to accomplish what has remained unattainable for much of Star Trek's forty years. This film will be embraced (for the most part) by Trekkies. But maybe more importantly, it is the first Trek film I've seen that could actually bring in new fans. People who've never seen or say they hate Star Trek can watch and love this movie.

I am, and always have been... your friend.

The young and relatively unknown actors had a ridiculously heavy burden on their shoulders. They were to play characters embedded brains of the sci-fi pop culture. William Shatner is Captain Kirk. Leonard Nimoy is Spock. How can anyone else play them? I think they found success by playing the characters, and not the previous actors who embodied them.

You don't look at Chris Pine and see Shatner. No melodramatic broken speech or pauses. But you do look at Chris Pine and see Kirk, his stance and carriage, his words, and actions. Pine and Shatner play the same character. They just bring different nuances to him. Watch Pine strut around the simulator, nonchalantly chomping an apple while cheating on the Kobayashi Maru and tell me that ain't classic Kirk.

Zachary Quinto's Spock plays on the conflict between Spock's human and Vulcan halves and pulls it off. Spock is several people's favorite original Trek character (*raises hand*) and after this film, he still might be. Quinto's Spock captures the icon of Spock without copying Nimoy's. And since Nimoy does appear in the film, I think Quinto probably had it worse than anyone else when it came to being compared to the original actor.

Ah, Bones. You learn where the nickname came from. It's hilarious and I won't ruin it. But I will say it's not an abbreviated version of "saw-bones." Karl Urban really did channel DeForest Kelly a few times, but it worked. He and the rest of the supporting crew members all have at least one moment where they shine. The fact that you're left wanting more from Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekhov is good thing. This film sets the stage for the crew. And Original Trek was always the Kirk and Spock show.

To Boldly Go

The plot of the film is pretty basic. Eric Bana plays a pissed off Romulan who goes back in time for some reason and blows stuff up. You find out why he's doing what he's doing and maybe empathize with him a little. I like that he's not quoting Shakespeare or Moby Dick. He's not a superman like Khan and he doesn't bring galactic military or political baggage. Nero's just a working class guy using the means at his disposal to enact revenge on those that he feels wronged him.

Kirk and Spock grow up as different men via very different means. They hate each other initially. But by the end their friendship occurs when they realize they need each other. Kirk depends on Spock's logic and intellect. Spock needs someone to do the stupid thing that wins the day no matter how little sense it makes.

The Final Frontier

Bottom line: The movie works. It's a damn blast and you should see it.

Can it be nitpicked? Sure. But I'm not going to because I'm not That Guy. That Guy is going to see this movie and bitch, bitch, bitch because it's what That Guy lives for. He feeds on pointing out every last detail and trivial bit of minutia that conflicts with preceding lore and continuity. That Guy is kind of a dick and no one likes him. So leave him be and set a course for your favorite mega-plex.

One-quarter Impulse power on my mark... Engage.

A Second Opinon

by Mike Finkelstein

Star Trek had a huge mountain to climb. Even before they said the new film was a reboot of every part of the continuity (except for maybe Enterprise, but aside from the last season of that show, no Trekkie will really care about Enterprise), a new Star Trek film had to overcome the wreck that the franchise had become. One awful series, a mediocre series before that, and a series of movies that lessened in quality (barring First Contact, which wasn't even as good as some that had preceded it, but stands out as not as bad as anything directly around it).

In other words, the new Star Trek had to make us forget how awful recent Trek had been. Thankfully the new movie does this wonderfully. As Nathan said above, you'll go into the movie and be entertained, loving every second on screen, feeling like you did when you watched the Wrath of Kahn the first time and realized how awesome Star Trek could be on the big screen.

Star Trek (2009) is not without its flaws (some science is outright ignored, some characters don't have as much to do as they should), but it's a great movie regardless. If you have even a passing interest in Star Trek, sci-fi, or great adventure movies, you'll enjoy this movie.