Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In the words of Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles, “God bless J.J. Abrams.” There’s really no other way to put it. I will proudly admit that I have come to trust anything with the official J.J. brand of approval. I’m a devoted fan of Lost (one of the best shows on television), loved his Mission: Impossible film, and have since been gradually transforming into a devoted fan of his new show Fringe. However, for all my J.J. adoration, I must admit that, going into his most recent project, I knew very little about what I was getting into. Outside of some pop culture references and a passing knowledge of Trek lore, this world was almost entirely foreign to me. Yet, after the 2 hours and 6 minutes were over, there was no doubt about it, J.J. had done it again.
This most recent Trek outing (the 11th film in the series) sets the focus of the story on the early days of the Enterprise crew. From a stunning opening space battle set as the backdrop for the birth of James T. Kirk, we are given a glimpse into the childhoods of the film’s two main characters, Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), born half-human and half-Vulcan, a species which values logic over emotion. Eventually, these two find themselves at Starfleet Academy, where young men and women are trained to serve as peacekeepers throughout the galaxy. However, they don’t quite hit it off right away. But their personal problems take back seat when a revenge-fueled Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) threatens the galaxy with a plan to destroy every planet included in the United Federation, starting with Spock’s home planet of Vulcan. As their journey continues, we are introduced to the U.S.S. Enterprise as well as its crew, including its first captain, Pike (Bruce Greenwood). There’s also the alien-language expert Uhura (Zoe Saldana), the medic named Bones (Karl Urban), the sword-wielding pilot Sulu (John Cho), the heavy-ac cented Russian Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and the only Scot who can “beam them up”, Scotty (Simon Pegg).
There’s so much in this film to enjoy, the incredible special effects, the various worlds and wonderfully strange alien creatures. Yet, the most astonishing thing about this film is its cast. Seriously, I would pay my ten dollars just to watch all these actors play off each other in a locked room. The two most exceptional performances clearly belong to Pine and Quinto, who each totally assume their iconic roles, bringing to them a vitality and dedication that make me believe that these two will inhabit these roles for many films to come. Another important highlight of the film is how Abrams and his team has decided to reboot the series; you see, (****SPOILER ALERT****) Nero is from the future where an older Spock failed to save his home planet from destruction, causing him to wreak havoc in the past and thus alter the established course of history, creating a sort of alternate history. (END SPOILER) In this way, Abrams is able to begin Trek on his own terms and feel free to explore any storyline he wishes, while at the same time acknowledging the films that have come before since they have not been discarded entirely, as is the case in other franchise reboots.
Overall, Star Trek (rated PG-13) offers an incredible experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to see the film in IMAX as I did. And, most importantly, the cast and crew bring wonderful energy to the series that serves to both reignite this world and at the same time pay respect to all that has come before it, personified in the inclusion of the original Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy, who reprises his role in what is much more than a split-second cameo.
--Michael Shymon is a senior at The Bishop's School. He has had an avid passion for film since he was about 5. He enjoys acting, writing, watching movies, as well as making his own films. His favorite movies include 2001: A Space Odyssey, American Beauty, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back, Taxi Driver, Jaws, City Lights, and South Park. He will be attending NYU Tisch Film School next year and hopes that all this movie watching will one day pay off.