Worth the price of admission, or a waste of time? Brian McKechnie and Suzanne Ellis offer you their take on the latest movies hitting screens. Read their reviews every week, exclusively on CityNews.ca.
STAR TREK (2009)
The story of the early days of James T. Kirk and the crew members of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
**** out of 5 stars
It’s big, it’s loud – it’s officially summer!
J.J. Abrams has taken the Star Trek franchise back to the beginning. His Trek begins before James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) was Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise (it actually begins before the U.S.S. Enterprise was even built). We learn how Kirk met Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Bones (Karl Urban) while in Starfleet. We see a young Sulu (John Cho) and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) awkwardly controlling the brand new Enterprise (when you see the Enterprise on-screen for the first time it will give you chills). For a non-Trek fan I was surprised how much I knew about these characters just by their pop-icon status and it all excited me.
The cast really makes this Trek work (especially the two leads). Pine’s Kirk has just enough William Shatner swagger to him to remember the original but also has a lot of James Dean and Marlon Brando to make him rebellious and cool. Considering he was horrible in his last film Bottle Shock it was refreshing to see Pine can really act. Quinto has Spock down so well he could potentially be a real-life Vulcan. When he and Leonard Nimoy (reprising his original Spock) are on screen together it’s mind-blowing how alike they are. The other two stand-outs were Karl Urban as Bones and Simon Pegg as Scotty. It’s hard to tell if they are mocking the original actors or paying homage. Either way, it works and it works well and I wish they were both given more screen time.
In the role of the bad guy Nero, Eric Bana is very cheesy but great. He’s the typical b-movie baddie and it works well. Some people might complain about this choice of enemy but the film is not about good fighting bad. It’s about how the crew of the Enterprise came to be who they are. So really, who they battle is a moot point that is really only there to show off the special effects – which are big, loud and wonderful like the entire film.
Star Trek is a near-perfect movie. It has the right amount of humour and action along with amazing effects and a great cast. To use a line right from Paramount’s marketing “this is not your father’s Star Trek“. Damn straight it’s not. Can’t wait to see it again.
**** out of 5 stars
I have to admit, I thought the Star Trek franchise was toast. Too many sequels, too many lame TV spinoffs. Then I found out that J.J. Abrams was involved in this 11th film in the franchise’s history – that piqued my interest, as his Mission: Impossible III was by far the best of that series.
Adding to the appeal, the knowledge that Zachary Quinto, who played the scene-stealing Sylar on TV series Heroes, would be making his feature film debut as a young Spock. A brilliant bit of casting, I remember thinking at the time.
Back-to-the-beginning movies are all the rage these days, but for every success ( Batman Begins, Casino Royale), there’s at least one failure ( X-Men Origins: Wolverine ). As for Star Trek, did the finished product live up to that early promise? Yes, and then some. Abrams’s film shakes off the dust of previous incarnations, TV and film alike, to become its own entity, and an exciting, engaging one at that.
Buoyed by a stellar cast, dazzling effects, and a just-cheeky-enough script, Star Trek is a joy to watch, and never drags despite its two-hours-plus length.
Chris Pine plays the young James T. Kirk, and he imbues the role with the right amount of cocky swagger and smarts. We learn early on that Kirk’s father made a heroic decision that saved hundreds of lives, including that of his as-yet unborn son, even though it cost him his own. The U.S.S. Enterprise’s first captain, Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) sees similar leadership qualities in the younger Kirk, even though everyone else views the rebellious youth as a troublemaker.
Though it’s immensely satisfying, even as a non-Trek fan, to see the younger versions of iconic characters like Scotty (Simon Pegg), and Bones (Karl Urban), both of whom steal every scene they’re in, the real story here is the at-times tense relationship between the reckless Kirk and the logical Spock. We’re surprised to learn that not only weren’t they close friends from the start, they actually appeared to loathe each other.
But they unite to face a common enemy in Nero (a barely recognizable Eric Bana), a Romulan warrior hell-bent on the destruction of Earth and Vulcan, revenge for the destruction of his own home planet.
One of the challenges of doing a prequel is not getting bogged down in the history, and Abrams wisely avoids this pitfall. He skips ahead the three years Kirk is in Starfleet training, knowing that we want to see some space battles, already!
This is a new breed of Star Trek movie, altogether, but if there’s one tie to the old school Trek it’s in the appearance in this latest film by the man who made Spock famous, Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy’s scenes are among the best in the film, and whether he’s offering sage advice to the young Kirk, or a younger version of himself (this somehow is possible in the Star Trek world), his presence is a welcome one.
I really see the potential for more movies with this cast, if an effort is made to ensure the script, direction, and effects measure up. Star Trek is one of those rare blockbusters where everything works, and it’s obvious the audience at the screening I attended agreed, whooping it up throughout and applauding when the end credits rolled.
If this is a sign of things to come in the Star Trek universe, I’m in. This doesn’t mean I’m a Trekkie, does it?