Monday, July 6, 2009

I Boldly Went Where I'd Never Gone Before, And I Liked It

Yes, geeks everywhere can go ahead and pick their jaws up off of the floor. Until last weekend, I had never in my life seen one bit of Star Trek. Not one of the movies. Not one episode of any of the TV shows. Sure, I had a pop-culture awareness of who Kirk, Spock, and the rest were, but that was about it. I've made my own trilogy of Star Wars spoofs, I could quote you every line from The Lord of the Rings, and the largest section on my bookshelf after theology books is my collection of Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks. My Star Trek naivete really is the one black mark on my geek resume. I took the first step to remedying that when a couple from church, Heather and I went to see J.J. Abram's Trek reboot after hearing a ton of positive buzz - and I can say that the buzz is quite well-deserved.

The movie follows the crew of the Enterprise as they're all young bucks just out of the Starfleet academy. The movie's villain, rogue Romulan captain Nero (Eric Bana), has traveled back through time to avenge the future destruction of his homeworld, for which he blames Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy in his aged version). The enterprise crew, including a feuding brash, rebellious Kirk (Chris Pine) and the calm, meticulous Spock (Zachary Quinto), must stop him from vengefully wiping out not only Vulcan, but Earth as well. Despite the talk of time travel and alternate-realities (which I'm beginning to think Abrams is obsessed with), the plot is easy to follow even for the uninitiated - neither Heather or I ever felt lost - and I'm told by my Trek-loving friends that it also serves as an ingenious way to launch a new franchise without stomping on Trek's long history and continuity.

Abrams' Trek continues the recent run of excellent reboots of aging film franchises, following in the footsteps of Batman Begins and Casino Royale. I absolutely loved both of those films, and Star Trek is worthy of mention right alongside them. While I've though for a while that Abrams is one of the best concept guys in the entertainment business (for evidence see Cloverfield and TV's Lost and Fringe), I've not yet been impressed with his work as a director (Mission: Impossible III). That changed in a big way with this movie. Abrams gives the film a brisk, exciting pace, a sense of humor that doesn't elicit eye-rolls, and tells his story in a way that alienates neither newcomers or old fans. The characters feel very human and are quite relatable, doubtlessly a big reason that this movie has appealed to the masses who are often turned off by the stoic nature of space opera. Much of the film's energy is due in large part to its stellar cast. Pine and Quinto are excellent together in the leads, Bana is suitably threatening as the villain, and their supporting cast gives a host of fine performances, with Karl Urban's Bones McCoy and Simon Pegg's Scotty especially endearing. This is about as good of a summer film as you'll find, and I can't wait to see where they take the sequels that are surely coming given the movie's fantastic box-office haul. Whether you're fluent in Klingon or a Trek-newbie like me, go catch this one before it finishes its theatrical run. I promise you won't be disappointed. We certainly weren't. - **** (out of 4)

Star Trek is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence and brief sexual content.


Corey Reynolds said...

Watch Star Trek 6 RIGHT NOW! It is one of the best films ever made! I wouldn't lie!

D.J. Williams said...

No, you wouldn't lie, but you also said Brazil was one of the best films ever made, too.