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Star Trek

star-trek-2009

PG13

Directed by JJ Abrams

Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Ben Cross, Simon Pegg, Bruce Greenwood, Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 4.5

Word of Warning: If you were never a fan of the show, there may be times when you feel like you just aren’t getting the joke, and leave the little ones at home.

The newest “Star Trek” movie may help the franchise live long and prosper. I must reveal that I am a bit of a Trekkie, having watched the series throughout my youth. My father first introduced my brother and me to Captain Kirk and Spock when we were wee children. The series I watched throughout my adolescence was “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and I have seen every episode at least twice.

I was skeptical when word spread about a new “Star Trek” movie. When the previews were released, I became even more dubious; the target market appeared to be teens. The movie opened last night, and despite my fears, I was among the first in line. As it turns out, my doubts were unwarranted. “Star Trek” is by far my favorite film of 2009. It sets a high bar for all the other summer blockbusters opening over the next couple of months.

The movie is set prior to the beginning of the first series. The audience is transported back to witness the trials and tribulations of James T. Kirk and Spock as adolescents; Kirk growing up with only memories of a heroic father, and Spock growing up as half-Vulcan, half-human, psychologically trapped between two worlds.

The younger versions of the famous duo are played by Chris Pine and Zachery Quinto. While I liked the casting of Quinto (“Heroes”) as Spock, I was not confident about Chris Pine as Kirk. The only movie I’d seen the young, Hollywood hunk  star in  was the vanilla coated “Bottle Shock,” and he didn’t impress me.

I knew a lot would be riding on Pine’s ability to play the eminent James T. Kirk. Pine couldn’t overplay the part of the man who has been portrayed by every comic impressionist on stage, but he couldn’t under play the part either. Kirk was an on screen tour de force, and somehow Pine needed to capture that presence, and he does. Pine is able to capture the stalwart confidence excluded by William Shatner as the original James T. Kirk, as well as his vulnerability.

Some critics have described Quinto’s portrayal of Spock as weak, but I disagree. This movie introduces us to a conflicted Spock; a young man not quite sure of his place, or his future. In certain scenes Spock can be described as seeming weak, but I believe this is more evocative of the way the character was written for this film, and not weak acting.

Simon Pegg is hysterical as Scotty, and Karl Urban virtually channels Dr. McCoy. Zoe Saldana captures the beauty and intelligence Uhura, and Eric Bana makes a mean-looking Romulan in a bald cap and face paint. Surprisingly, Winona Ryder makes the briefest of all appearances as Spock’s human mother.  

Even though “Star Trek” is set in the future, in a nod to the original series, the setting feels historic, with the earth structures built to resemble 1960’s architecture. The women at the Star Fleet Academy wear short skirts and up-dos, while every Academy building looks like a replica of a college dormitory built in 1962.  

It seems the producers, writers and director JJ Abrams concluded, if a formula works, why mess with it. Abrams directed a movie filled with fun and action, and yet still manages to spend time building the characters – this was important because over the years it has been the characters that have made the Star Trek shows so great and so memorable.

Only time will tell if this movie will reenergize the franchise, but it will introduce a new generation to Star Trek. If this movie does well at the box office, I have no doubt there will be another Star Trek movie starring this young cast, and I will be the first in line to see it. If you’ve ever been a fan of Star Trek, this movie is worth the full price of admission, and even if you haven’t, “Star Trek” is still a solid movie.

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