May 10th, 2009

Holy Crap

Still Trekkin'...

Just came back from seeing the new Star Trek movie, which we took my mother to for Mother's Day.  I've enjoyed most entries into the Trek film franchise and series, and this one made me happy in much the same way as when I sat down to watch the first episodes of the reinvigorated Doctor Who series a few years ago.  It was a totally enjoyable experience, and it creates a stepping off point for new films in this undiscovered Trek universe that I am already anticipating with relish. 

My quibbles with the new film are minor.  Keeping things spoiler free: there's a grand total of one action scene on Delta Vega that seemed slightly unnecessary to me.  It didn't stop me from enjoying the scene, even though I don't think it needed as much creature action as was given.  My only other nitpick was the underdevelopment of the film's villian.  He's certainly motivated for his excessive vengence, but there's nothing to Nero beyond that.  Since he's really just a catalyst for this new incarnation of Star Trek, I'm willing to accept the sacrifice of Nero's character for the time spent on the familiar heroes of the Enterprise crew to be frank.  They are the heart of the film, and it's arguably wise to spend time setting up their relationships and their potential development in future films when the audience will understand Nero without giving him as much complexity. 

One of the best things about the film is the performances of the fledgeling Enterprise crew.  It's not easy to step into the shoes of actors who have created such iconic characters, but the strong performances in the film made me forget all about the new faces.  They simply became the characters up on the big screen, and I can think of no higher compliment for their success in this film.  Chris Pine's Kirk drapes himself across the captain's chair as though it's as natural to him as it is familiar to us.  He's the cocky and flirtatious man one would expect of James Tiberius at 25.  Zachary Quinto is amazing as Spock; he took on the mantle of his character completely and managed a lovely balance between the Vulcan and human aspects of Spock.  Karl Urban steals scenes with his sarcastic, bitter, loyal, and meddlesome Bones.  He may have been my favorite in a cast of wonderful performances.  Simon Pegg is also commendable and hilarious in his portrayal of Scotty, and he stands toe to toe against Dr. McCoy when it comes to having some of the best lines in the film.  (Nothing unusual about that, when you're talking Trek.)  Zoe Sandal's Uhura is confident, talented, and classy.  It's rewarding to see Uhura's character get more development in the story, and her relationships with certain other characters were a welcome revelation that I won't spoil.  Antonin Yelchin made a fine Chekov, earnestly approaching his assignment and surpassing himself with some surprise.  John Cho was a solid Mr. Sulu, balancing the nerves of his first assignment with his talent, intelligence, and very familiar abilities.  Hooray for fencing!  Finally, Leonard Nimoy is perfect.  He brings with him all of our best memories of Mr. Spock, and he blends himself into this new Star Trek continuity seemlessly.  His reactions to seeing a young Jim are heartfelt, and he imparts the best of what Spock has learned to this new generation. 

The film was able to move me from tears to laughter as it formed the crew from their early frustrations into the beloved friends that Trek fans recognize the world over.  I can think of no better ending for this first chapter than the narration by Leonard Nimoy and the grateful memorial to Gene and Majel in the credits.