[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/MovieReviews/StarTrek2009/star-trek-2009a.jpg[/img]Not out on DVD yet, but why wait? There really hasn't been a big screen Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan. Many may disagree with me on that, but if they search their Trek loving hearts, deep down most will have to admit the rest of the movies were pretty much just good quality TV series level of entertainment. Not this one though... Move over Obi Wan... This ain't you're father's Star Trek!
J.J. Abrams took some liberties and even broke a few Trek 'rules', but it all works. There are some really good nods to the original series and even the actors that played the roles before this new cast stepped in to fill some pretty big shoes. The problem with a franchise reboot or prequel is that we already know the outcome. All the characters survive. They have to, because we know about their other adventures. Abrams put a bit of a twist on things though. Although he deftly crafted a story that assembled the Enterprise crew together, it wasn't how they 'originally' met, and that's why this works.
This is my second viewing of Star Trek at the theater. The first time I went with my brother, this time my wife actually wanted to see it so I took her tonight. She is a 'mild' Trek fan at best, and basically tolerates it because she knows I like it. It didn't take long before she dropped the take it or leave it attitude and really got into this movie.
What really impressed me was I was actually trying to figure out how Abrams was going to 'fix' certain things that start off oh so wrong. During my first viewing my fear was that he wasn't going to and that this new Trek would end up a sell out and Star Trek in name only. Trust me, even the most hard core fan will accept this entry, but more important is that it is simply a great sci-fi/action flick too.
There is even some touches of politics in the story, as well as prejudices- surprisingly from the Vulcan Academy itself! Also look for the infamous 'Red Shirt' scene.
If there is one thing to complain about, in my opinion it would be the engineering spaces. Granted I am very familiar with the engine rooms on real naval warships, and they can be a maze of pipes and valves and in general a very low tech looking environment. Thing is though, we're talking about the 23rd Century and I like the old Trek engineering levels better. These look like they ran out of set budget so they filmed in a manufacturing plant somewhere.
Abrams is also known for his fast pace and faster cuts too. Even though we do get to see the Enterprise bridge in quite a few scenes, I honestly couldn't describe the layout to anyone and it was quite different than in any other Trek show or movie.
[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/MovieReviews/StarTrek2009/star-trek-2009.jpg[/img]The cast was well thought out and Trek has the unique ability of capturing lightning in a bottle more often than any other franchise out there. Many, including Roddenberry doubted if they could get the same chemistry between the main characters in Star Trek The Next Generation as they had in the original series. The franchise did have some major misfires with some of its other spin off series, but... Roddenberry always said the true star of the show was the Enterprise itself and the crew was secondary.
All the banter we have come to love is there, and we even get some back story on some characters too. Karl Urban absolutely nails McCoy. He looks like DeForest Kelly, and even sounds like him. Pine's Kirk though isn't quite the same but all the elements are there- He's confident and even arrogant, he has an eye for the pretty ladies... but most important is his drive and tenacity to win at all costs. Kirk coyly said in Wrath of Khan that he doesn't believe in a no win scenario... Pine's Kirk proves it and then some.
Simon Pegg as Scotty- I never remembered James Doohan as the 'plucky comedic relief' in the original series, but Pegg pulls it off. He's witty, funny, and charming all at the same time.
Quinto's Spock is almost uncanny. Certain shots he is a dead ringer for Nimoy in the original series. Quinto does a fantastic job of bringing the complex turmoil buried deep within Spock. Nimoy does reprise his role in an extended 'cameo' but his part was mainly an homage to the original show and it very easily could have been omitted.
Nero is played by Eric Bana and he has less screen time than he deserves. Bana chewed scenery every bit as well as Ricardo Montalban did as Khan, he just didn't get as much screen time to truly make him an interesting foe.
One thing that was really odd about these 'villains' was the way they introduce themselves. After an unprovoked barrage of missiles, they open hailing frequencies and say 'Hello'. It just sounded really strange hearing a Romulin say hello that casually, especially considering the situation. I'd love to hear Abrams reason, I'm sure he had one.
Captain Pike was played by Bruce Greenwood. This was another bullseye. Greenwood made Pike a natural leader and added tons of respectability to the cast. Greenwood may not be known by many though. Most people will probably be sitting there thinking 'Who is he? I know I saw him somewhere!' He's been doing TV for ages, but most probably recognize him as the President in National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Sarek, Spock's father was a bit of a surprise to me. Sarek is played by Ben Cross who usually plays the bad guy or heavy. I remember him the best as Prince Malagant in the Richard Gere/Sean Connery version of King Arthur's tale in First Knight. Cross impressed me very much because he went from being so evil in that flick to stoic and dignified as Sarek.
All in all it was an excellent cast they assembled. Even John Cho, better known to many as Harold from the Harold and Kumar flicks, slipped comfortably into his new role as Sulu.
It goes without saying that the special effects were top notch. Many of the other Trek outings, especially the Next Generation movies skimped on new FX and even recycled FX scenes from the TV series... and it showed. Abrams didn't cut any corners and it's obvious he was given a huge budget to work with. My guess is now that Star Wars is officially done, Paramount finally woke up and realized they had something that could appeal to more than just the hard core fans, but they'd have to pony up some money to do it right and grab the attention of non-Trek fanboys.
When this comes to DVD it hopefully will be nothing short of spectacular, but Paramount isn't exactly known to do the best transfers to disc. I have the new Bluray sets of the movies and season 1 of the original series and will be doing a review on those. As long as Paramount keeps that level of quality when they release this, it is going to be a mind blower in anyone's home theater.
It's non stop action and adrenaline.
I give it :5stars: across the board!