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Wick's Review

Created May 16, 2009 12:30AM PST • Edited Sep 16, 2021 06:45PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0
    Big Fun

    An old friend made new, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek deserves Gene Roddenberry’s blessing from the deep space hereafter. Cultural fountainhead for four decades now, Roddenberry’s creation bequeathed into the zeitgeist green-skinned alien hotties, “Phasers on stun,” “Beam me up Scotty,” “Live long and prosper,” the enlightened military force of Starfleet and its legendary flagship the USS Enterprise. Most of these touchstones get fresh visits in the new movie.

    More popcorn than pop culture, this new incarnation works for newbies and Trekkies alike. Credit this to Roddenberry’s evergreen construct – seven engaging central characters pursuing adventure in a humanistic vision of the future – coupled with the movie’s nifty but respectful story, well executed FX and deft casting.

    Bring on the sequels! Stardates for the next couple of decades should be full of them.

  3. Great 4.0

    The hell with Shatner. Chris Pine makes a starring debut worthy of Steve McQueen. More handsome yet with a more interesting mug than the original James T. Kirk’s, Pine still achieves a Shatnerian boorish attractiveness. In short, Pine is to Shatner what Daniel Craig is to Sean Connery, an altogether able successor (or are they predecessors?) to a heretofore inimitable originator.

    Zachary Pinto’s got the crook of the brow down – er, up – that identifies him as a true Spock. While not as lean as Leonard Nimoy was, Pinto nonetheless embodies the half-blood conflicts that make Spock both alien and fascinating (as the humanistic Vulcan himself would observe).

    Leonard Nimoy’s presence serves perfectly to pass the torch in the quasi-mystical style that he pioneered 40 years ago in the original series.

    The rest of the Enterprise Officer Corps are also well cast.

    • Karl Urban’s Dr. Bones McCoy crisply recreates the original’s jaunty anxiety.
    • Zoe Saldaña’s Uhura assumes a larger and sexier role than did the original. You go girl.
    • Simon Pegg’s Scotty brings more humor than did the original, brightening up every scene in which he appears. As Will pointed out, no surprise here given Pegg’s proven chops as writer and star of comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
    • John Cho’s Sulu assumes the quietly capable identity of his forbear.
    • Anton Yelchin’s Checkov brashly injects youthful spirit and naiveté into the proceedings, lightening the mood whenever he appears.

    Bruce Greenwood and Eric Bana are most notable amongst the large supporting cast. Greenwood’s Capt. Christopher Pike ably delivers a spine stiffening speech to Kirk, and later lands in the high-tech wheelchair familiar to fans of the original series. Bana’s implacable Nero serves as an understandable and serious enemy.

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Great 4.0

    It’s often observed that Roddenbury’s original creation became beloved due to it’s optimistic view of the future. A broader corollary is that it was the first space-based entertainment that seemed plausible, notwithstanding its manifold and gleeful cheesiness. Abrams has maintained this cheesy plausibility (see Reality below) by staging the film as a beefcake action-adventure where Kirk and his compatriots regularly thumb their noses at certain death, all the while operating in a way that makes the future – complete with phasers, warp drives, transporters and all the rest of the gizmos – seem downright manageable.

    The film deftly plays each of the seven member Enterprise Officer Corps for depth, humor, action and familiarity, getting fresh yet nostalgic interplay between Kirk and Uhura, Uhura and Spock, Kirk, Uhuru and Spock (as a romantic triangle), Spock and Bones, Checkov and Sulu, and Scotty and Kirk, to name a few. In short, bequeathed a well designed seven player set-up, Abrams and his writers make the most of the inheritance.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Great 4.0

    The story works very well at creating the origins of the characters and placing them in a rousing adventure that is complex yet followable. Yet it doesn’t introduce any philosophical challenges for the Starfleet officers, nor does it match up Kirk in a battle of reason with his opponent, situations that delineated Roddenberry’s Star Trek as more than just another space cowboy adventure.

    Being less ambitious and more frivolous than its predecessors, this reimagining doesn’t achieve the greatness of Casino Royale, the most notable other recent reinvention of a heroic fairy tale.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5

    It’s understandable why Abrams didn’t want to use the original theme until the end credits, but regrettable just the same. It’s a great theme.

  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5

    This latest take on NCC-1701 is perhaps the best, loving and detailed without being leeringly pornographic like in the first Star Trek movie. Amongst the other visual highlights is Starfleet Academy, located at Crissy Field in a futuristic San Francisco.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7

    Tame by most standards. The sexual chemistry between Uhura and Spock comes as a welcome surprise. The fact that Kirk’s a dog: No surprise there.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Fierce 1.8
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.5
  18. Fantasy 4.4

    A Romulan attack on the Golden Gate Bridge would cause major traffic problems in the Bay Area. As a Bay Aryan (imagine that, me an Aryan), I can just about hear the traffic report. “This is MetroTraffic reporting that the midspan of the Golden Gate Bridge has been pulverized. Major backups at the toll plaza.”

    PhysioReality regularly takes a back seat to story concerns. Case in point: Kirk space-dives onto an aerial platform that is hovering at high altitude. Chute caught in the high wind behind him, he clings to the hard metal platform. Basic physics says he’d be plucked off his tenuous hold by the sail force of his fully engorged chute. But no. Story concerns dictate not only that he not pop off to his oblivion, but that he trigger the retraction mechanism, causing his chute to pull into his backpack and stow for future use. Never mind that this would – what? – double or square or cube or otherwise majorly increase the force factor pulling young Kirk from his – let’s remember now – tenuous perch. Nope, that chute retracts right back in, pretty as you please, ready for the next insane jump. Newton disagrees.

    Human bioreality has several convenient lapses. For instance, Kirk trudges miles through arctic terrain like it’s fake snow, and probably not cold either. In this regard, the movie harks back to the cheerfully cheesy soundstage terrains of the original series. (Maybe the Angelinos who make these movies don’t realize how brutal cold can be. If your only snow experience is the occasional trip to Big Bear, then you might not…)

    This same arctic wasteland scene contains perhaps the most cheesy sequence in the entire movie. Kirk gets chased on foot by a dinosaur-like arctic monster. Just when he’s almost in its clutches, an even larger T-Rex-like creature appears out of nowhere to take over the chase of the over-matched little human. But wouldn’t you know it, Kirk escapes into a conveniently located snow cave. The entire scene evokes the Land of the Lost trailer that ran before the movie, not a good thing since LoL is Will Ferrell at his goofiest.

  19. Circumstantial Supernatural 3.1
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Fantasy 5.0

Forum

Subscribe to Star Trek 5 replies, 3 voices
Feb 8, 2010 9:38PM
MJ5K

I’d guess I’d call myself a newbie. I would always say that anti-Star Trek stuff back when I was about 9 or 10, when I didn’t really understand Star Trek. Now that I’ve grown up, I’ve learned an old life lesson: Don’t judge something before you get to know it.

Feb 8, 2010 9:20PM
Wick

Regarding MetalJunky5000’s Review
Great review MJ. As a Star Trek kid, it’s fun to see an appreciation from a, a, well how would you characterize yourself? Star Trek newbie or former hater? Either way, fresh eyes yield fresh insights.

May 17, 2009 4:35PM
Wick

Regarding Wick’s Review
OK, not my best review, but there was a lot going on.

Anyone disagree that “Terminator Salvation” will be to “Star Trek” this year the way “Dark Knight” was to “Iron Man” last year? Serious to cheeky.