Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Star Trek

Star Trek
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban

Rated: PG-13 violence, sci-fi action and brief sexual content
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 8, 2009 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation

The vastly new and improved Star Trek is on a path that will have more than older fans of the franchise latching onto.

J.J. Abrams does much better here than he did in Mission Impossible 3 in this energetic reboot that gets the action and casting back to warp speed. It's the kind of transporting ride that is hard not to beam about.

This smart, top-notch reinterpretation goes back even before the short-lived TV series did in the 1960s as a striking opening sequence shows the birth of James T. Kirk while his starship captain father (Chris Hemsworth) in a short time saves hundreds of lives, including his son before perishing at the hands of a diabolical commander.

Jim (Chris Pine) is cocky and irresponsible before a stern, yet wise Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) puts him on a path to do better than his father by enlisting in Star Fleet.

By this time, scenarists Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have begun outlining the early years of First Officer and future Capt. Kirk and the conflicted half-human, half-Vulcan Spock, an uncanny Zachary Quinto of TV's "Heroes". Emphasis is put into what will link these future partners together as Kirk quickly becomes an irritation for the logical, dark-haired individual with pointed ears.

In time at Starfleet Academy brings about a key mission to Spock's planet which becomes disastrous as Romulan commander and war criminal Nero, unrecognizable vengeful Eric Bana, captures Pike. Star Trek is then propelled by some exciting action sequences and decisions on assuming authority to protect the Federation against annhilation, especially planet Earth.

Pine, whose hair color is sometimes more blonde and then a little red, makes for an audacious, charming Kirk. Quinto evinces the necessary sensitivity as the film plays well on being "emotionally compromised". In more than a cameo, Leonard Nimoy anchors the film as the older (prime) Spock out to bring clarity through a mind meld, similar to what Sir Alec Guiness did in the original Star Wars.

It's good to see others in their "early years", like the pessimistic Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), pilots Sulu, John Cho, who has an exciting scene with Pine, and Chekov, done with youthful vigor by Anton Yelchin. Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) doesn't go over-the-top as engineer Scotty who sounds a bit like talk-show host Craig Ferguson. Zoe Saldana (Guess Who) offers romantic tension as glamorous communications expert Uhura, while Bana effectively cloaks the scary Nero in a heritage shared with Spock. And, Winona Ryder (of all people) with a bit of makeup does well as Spock's mother.

In this new maiden voyage of the Starship Enterprise has some recognizable phrases (and new ones) as it percolates on things like red matter, black holes, and time warps with much of the special effects suited well to the situations prominently served by the characters.

If the soundtrack is a bit bombastic, if original till the identifiable theme at the end, the production is soundly shaped especially through the work of Industrial Light & Magic (especially during Kirk's icy exile and Nero's implosive dastardly design). It looks like there might be new challenges and twists to a breathless, bright enterprise fully bored out of the doldrums.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Star Trek  A-      A-      A   B   B+      A- 
A Top Ten for 2009
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