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Star Trek (2009)

The future begins.

Directed by:

J.J. Abrams

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 127 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States

If I was to place myself somewhere on the “Star Trek” fan scale, I’d say I was maybe a 5, 6 tops. I know who all the major players are, I get the occasionally “in” Trekkie joke, and in high school, my best friend Danny got us the boy and girl versions of the Enterprise crew uniforms, but I’m not full on wearing the pointy ears to the premiere. I say all that to say that even if I weren’t familiar with the Trek mythos, I’d have enjoyed this film immensely—but I think knowing a little something helps. It’s good no matter what, though, so even if you’ve never heard of a Tribble or don’t know what the “T” stands for in James T. Kirk, this is still a worthy beginning to both a classic franchise AND the 2009 summer movie season (a little early).

Basically, we’re introduced to Captain Kirk in the first scenes—Captain George Kirk, James’s dad—moments before his heroic death. We see little Kirk being born … then fast forward to his rebellious years. Meanwhile, off in another section of the universe, young Spock is going through his own tough times, taunted by his peers for being half-human. Eventually, James (Chris Pine) grows up to be a cocky slacker with potential, Spock (Zachary Quinto) grows up to be, well, Spock, and the whole crew of the Enterprise gets their first stab at adventure as they try to save everybody from those mean, tattoo-faced Romulans.

Unlike the new X-Men film that delves into the history of Wolverine, this is a prequel that engages us from the first scene and re-invents its franchise. Often, one of two things happens in a story trying to tell the story of where established characters come from—they’re either totally unrecognizable and you’re left scratching your head as to whether the writer ever saw the originals, or they’re like little Mini Me versions of themselves, offering no insight into how they became the people we know. Here, Kirk and Spock are NOT the guys we know, but they’re on their way there, and the progression makes sense. Quinto, especially, is a different Spock, for sure, and it’s absolutely believable that, at this period in his life, he might have a few emotional blips. Also, one more performance note—loved Simon Pegg as Scotty. My only character gripe was with Chekhov—the accent thing was funny kinda, but I often just plain couldn’t understand him. Story-wise, the conflict with the Romulans has just the right balance of sci-fi tech and accessibility, so whether you’re a die-hard space freak or a casual watcher, you can be swept in and entertained. Overall, a fun, exhilarating “start” to the Trek mythology.

It's Got: Accessible story, spot-on characters, humor, spectacular effects.

It Needs: Tone down Chekhov’s accent.

Alternatives:

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Sunshine

Summary

One of the most fully enjoyable movie-going experiences I’ve had in awhile, Star Trek is exciting, funny, looks great, and offers the perfect balance between re-inventing history and paying homage to its roots.

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