Are you ready to return to where no one has gone before?
You better be- because this week, I plop my ass down into the Captain's Chair and review J.J. Abram's 2009 take on the "Star Trek" franchise!
Starting his career in Starfleet, James Tiberius Kirk is a brash cadet. When a mysterious ship that was last seen the day he was born appears and destroys Vulcan, Kirk must bring his crew together to face this threat... and become the captain he's destined to be...
When Jay first told me that J.J. Abrams was "rebooting" the Star Trek franchise, I wasn't sure about it.
Then we saw it on the big screen.
This movie is a big screen movie.
The story is action packed- but with enough slow personal character scenes that it's not overwhelming. It caught the action, adventure, humor, an drama of the original series, while also giving it a shot of adrenaline.
Many fans were upset when it was announced, because they felt that the studio was telling them to forget and "move" on from all that had come before. Until the reveal that this was an alternate timeline- the "Kelvin Timeline". This meant that fans could have the "classic" stories, and new stories without conflict. This was a great way to keep older fans like myself interested, while also giving newer fans a great starting point.
The characters, while subtly different that their "classic" portrayals, still embodied the spirit of the originals. Kirk's determination, Spock's inner battle between his Human and Vulcan heritages, McCoy's grumpy common sense. Even the supporting characters show strong hints of their previous versions- while taking them in new directions.
This was helped by the acting. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and John Cho really brought the characters to life, and imbued them with fresh energy and vitality. I especially enjoyed Anton Yelchin in the role of Chekov. He brought such a wonderful zest and exuberance to the role. I loved it. I'm saddened that after "Star Trek Beyond", we won't get to see him in the role due to his passing. He was just an absolute joy to watch.
"Star Trek" is a beautiful movie visually too. J.J. Abrams has a really kinetic way of visual storytelling. Very seldom does the camera just sit there. It seems that it's always moving- either in interesting directions and angles, or shaking just enough to make you feel like you're on the trembling bridge as shots hit it. The Enterprise looks gorgeous as well. My only complaint is that he does need to lay off the lens flair a bit. There was so much lens flair bouncing off the surfaces on the bridge that I wondered how anyone could see their controls. Other than that quibble, I thought it was a stunning movie.
I loved the use of the blue uniforms at the start of the movie- it was a nice evolution from those in "Star Trek: Enterprise", and given it's place in the timeline, also fit in nicely with the ones from "Star Trek Discovery". I also really enjoyed the tip of the hat to "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" at the end with Admiral Pike's uniform. The real tribute- and treat, was when the first few strains of the theme for "The Original Series" played. My heart sighed with contentment and happiness.
Is this "Star Trek" different from what fans knew and loved? Absolutely! Is it a version that fans new and old should be able to enjoy? In my opinion- absolutely. I'm giving it a rewatch... and a "Good".