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Star Trek (2009)
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by Mel Valentin

"Trekkies of the world rejoice!"
4 stars

"Star Trek," the much-anticipated (and for some, much dreaded), big-budget (as in $150 million, not counting P&A) reboot/prequel to the venerable franchise that began forty-three years ago on NBC with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelly in the lead roles, has, after debuting everywhere outside the United States over the last month (with the notable exception of the surprise premiere April 7th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas), finally arrives in multiplexes. Directed by J.J. Abrams ("Fringe," "Lost," "Mission: Impossible III," "Alias," "Felicity") from a screenplay written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ("Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen," "Transformers," "Mission: Impossible III"), "Star Trek" is (almost) everything "Star Trek" fans and non-fans were hoping for when Paramount announced J.J. Abrams would produce and direct the reboot/prequel more than two years ago.

The James T. (“T” for “Tiberius”) Kirk (Chris Pine) we meet in the reboot/prequel has turned into a rebellious, anti-authoritarian young man in his twenties, prone to hitting on Starfleet cadets and picking fights he can’t win in Iowa bars. The timely intervention of Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), the new captain of the still unfinished U.S.S. Enterprise, leads Kirk to join Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. On the shuttle to Starfleet Academy, Kirk meets Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) a curmudgeonly doctor with an apt fear of space travel. In a nod to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (a film Orci and Kurtzman consider the “gold standard” among Star Trek films), Kirk solves the “unwinnable” Kobyashi Maru scenario, but his “out-of-the-quadrant” thinking leads conflict with Spock (Zachary Quinto) and a disciplinary hearing. Uhura (Zoe Saldana), a specialist in xeno-linguistics, won’t give Kirk the time of day (or night).

Kirk and Spock are rivals, not the friends became the center of the original series and the subsequent film series isn’t in evidence, but they’re also outsiders: Spock because he's half-human and half-Vulcan and Kirk due to his rebellious, anti-authoritarian conduct. The Spock we meet in the reboot/prequel isn't the cool, calculating logic machine Leonard Nimoy originated in the Star Trek: The Original Series and developed in the six sequels and The Next Generation appearances that followed several years later. This Spock struggles to keep his emotions in check, but still prefers to live his life as an emotionally controlled Vulcan (often failing). Kirk is the classic rebellious 20-something, over-eager to prove himself physically (and often losing) while living superficially.

A distress signal from Vulcan, Spock’s home planet, puts Spock and Kirk’s rivalry on hold. McCoy sneaks the academically suspended Kirk onboard the Enterprise via a semi-clever ruse (the better to give Pine and Urban the chance to engage in slapstick humor). Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), the helmsman, and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), a 17 year-old genius, are already onboard the Enterprise when Kirk arrives. The Enterprise has a chief engineer, but his name’s not Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. It’s Olsen (Greg Ellis). Scotty (Simon Pegg), the (future) chief engineer of the Enterprise doesn’t join the crew until almost 90 minutes into the film. Kirk “rescues” Scotty from a remote Starfleet outpost on Delta Vega, a planet in the Vulcan star system. Together, the crew of the Enterprise confronts the Narada, a tentacled, squid-like starship equipped with 24th-century weaponry captained by a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana).

From the get go, Abrams expressed his desire to make Star Trek accessible to non-fans uninterested in Star Trek’s convoluted continuity or complicated character histories. In that much, Abrams has succeeded, combining a lean, efficient, tightly paced storyline with a kinetic visual style (heavy on camera movement and lens flares) that jumps effortlessly from Kirk’s birth to Kirk taking a joyride as a preteen, a young Spock encountering difficulties on Vulcan, to Kirk and Spock as young men, where the story in Star Trek appropriately takes off. The other crewmembers are introduced via (mostly) believable coincidences, with Chekov and Scotty suffering from, for Chekov, an over-broad, comic characterization, for Scotty, a highly implausible introduction late in the film. Paradoxically, Uhura gets more screen time than anyone else in the supporting cast, but is relegated into a romantic interest or supportive partner.

Concerns, partly fueled by Abrams’ statements in interviews, about turning Star Trek into Star Wars or adding Star Wars-inspired dogfights are, on balance, misguided. The starships in Star Trek still move like submarines or battle cruisers than Star Wars’ sleek space fighters. The space battles between the Federation and the Narada offer enough spectacle for three or four Star Trek films, but only rarely overwhelm the human element which Abrams establishes from the first pre-credits sequences and carries through to the final lines of dialogue. With only a few pauses for obligatory exposition scenes (e.g., to explain the underdeveloped Nero’s semi-muddled motivation), Star Trek follows a throughline from one conflict to another. Where Star Trek runs into a major speed bump, though, is the reliance on a time travel plot device to reboot Star Trek and give Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman the opportunity to mix-and-match elements from the Star Trek canon.

Time travel has been used, over-used and abused in the every iteration of the Star Trek franchise, beginning with the original series (e.g., Tomorrow is Yesterday, Assignment: Earth, City on the Edge of Forever and continuing through the last series, Enterprise (the first season hinged on a so-called “Time War” between factions from two different futures), and twice in the theatrical films, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (with the original cast) and Star Trek VIII: First Contact (with the Next Generation cast) to save or preserve the future. In the new Star Trek, time travel creates an entirely different timeline and with it, one where the characters follow divergent paths toward the same “destinies” (i.e., serving on the Enterprise together). Here, time travel is just a means to an end, but if the new status quo for the Star Trek universe means a newly reinvigorated franchise, then so be it.

Unfortunately, the action-first, story second approach, while necessary for a summer blockbuster, leaves most of the secondary characters with one or two “spotlight” scenes or as comic relief (Chekov and Scotty especially, occasionally unfunny, especially Scotty’s unnecessary sidekick). Composer Michael Giacchino (Lost, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible III, The Incredibles) certainly has his fans, including Abrams of course, but his Star Trek score lacks the subtlety, range, or dynamism of Jerry Goldsmith or James Horner’s earlier contributions to the Star Trek franchise. Giacchino’s score only occasionally overwhelms the expensive visuals Abrams puts on screen. The production design mismatches an over-bright, overlit, iPod-inspired bridge (already dubbed the “iBridge”) with a functional engineering room over-crammed with pipes, tubes, metal gangways, and staircases.

On balance, however, "Star Trek’s" problems are minor ones. Abrams accomplishes what seemed impossible just three or four years ago: bridging the chasm between "Star Trek" fans and the non-fans who make up the majority of moviegoers. With the reimagined origin story completed, the familiar crew assembled with their essences intact, Abrams’ "Star Trek" is poised for a healthy run of (commercially successful) sequels, to boldly go where "Star Trek" (hopefully) hasn’t gone before.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17128&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/07/09 19:56:16
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User Comments

12/28/17 Tom Eric Banavich is the most overrated actor ever. He’s useless as an actor and director. 1 stars
10/29/16 morris campbell awesome reboot purists dont like it but who cares 5 stars
5/11/16 D. The R. My version -Brat wrecks classic 'Vette, gets thrown off cliff after it.. 2 stars
10/18/11 Magic Takes a thoughtful sci-fi franchise and fills it with noise, explosions and lens flares. 3 stars
8/13/10 Charles Tatum Outstanding; better sci-fi than "Avatar" all around 5 stars
2/16/10 The Calico Critic, Laura Hartness I loved this one, but I agree, the bridge was lit WAY too much. Enough with the flares! 4 stars
1/23/10 Streeper Started well enough, quickly decended into bullshit though 2 stars
12/29/09 Homer J. Fong Should be called "Star Trek 90210" -- this is like the very worst fan fiction... 1 stars
12/20/09 FrankNFurter This piece of dreck makes "Star Crystal" look like "Citizen Kane". Shockingly overrated! 1 stars
12/13/09 Flounder HBS is way off here. This is the best mainstream sci-fi reboot in decades 5 stars
12/05/09 the dork knight I went in determined to hate it, but failed. Nice to see decent CG for once. 5 stars
11/22/09 Flossdaily This review was too kind. This movie had more plot holes than plot. 1 stars
11/22/09 Thomas Korn why all the fuss over a bland movie and poor filmmaking?? 2 stars
11/08/09 Jeff Wilder As a piece of pure entertainment, great. As Star Trek it's bunk. 4 stars
10/28/09 matt as close to perfect as it possibly could be. and zoe saldana = major fap alert O.o 5 stars
9/08/09 Natalie Stonecipher An exciting romp if you can get past the atrocious start of it. 3 stars
8/30/09 MS Good review and I agree!! 2 stars
8/20/09 Aaron Forget the reviews, good stuff spock kicks butt 4 stars
7/25/09 Bryan This movie did what the previous two failed to, which was revive a sinking ship. 4 stars
7/14/09 Linda I enjoyed this movie very much, I guess the franchise has to start somwhere! 4 stars
7/10/09 whitelaw Awesome movie. Loved every minute of it! Can't wait for the sequel!!! 5 stars
7/08/09 Benny Lava Hopefully in the next prequel, they can go back in time and stop Abrams from creating this. 2 stars
6/19/09 JR I really wanted to like this ST. Alas, no. Kirk is a jerk & story is awful. 1 stars
6/12/09 meep Dissapointingly mediocre 2 stars
6/02/09 MP Bartley Not really a Trek fan as such, but this was smart and terrifically entertaining. 4 stars
6/02/09 aliceinwonderland Thanks to Spock, it was good,nothing special otherwise 3 stars
5/31/09 red hulk are you kidding? 40 years of trek history replaced with this time travel crap? lame 1 stars
5/31/09 Brock Sampson Lame, overhyped crib note version of Star Trek. Poor screenplay, meh overall. 1 stars
5/27/09 Cathal Great in parts but overall agree with reviewer - disappointing. 3 stars
5/24/09 Abhishek Chakraborty Disappointed...trailer 3 made it look much more awesome than it was 3 stars
5/23/09 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Physics be damned. Nothing in this movie made sense. 1 stars
5/23/09 Eurisko I agree w/review & wish to complain about VERY BAD SCIENCE in this "fiction" 2 stars
5/23/09 Allen Called "Star Trek" for marketing purposes - Movie ignores Trek context.. Overhyped! 1 stars
5/22/09 Dan Awesome movie, good acting, and great action scenes. 5 stars
5/20/09 X A must for any trekkie 5 stars
5/19/09 Richard For the first time in my life I am considering purchasing a Star fleet uniform. 5 stars
5/18/09 Suzz Lives up to the original series. Not to be missed 5 stars
5/17/09 San Francisco Joins Wrath of Khan as the only good Trek flicks. Wonderful movie that will be remembered. 5 stars
5/16/09 Mike Movie was awesome in so many ways. Plot was light and emotion rushed, but still awesome! 5 stars
5/16/09 Sam Whatta ride! Nice job sidestepping the continuity issue. HOLD THAT DAMN CAMERA STILL! 4 stars
5/16/09 Paul I'm a hardcore trekkie, fresh off from watching all 5 shows, and I liked the movie 4 stars
5/15/09 DaMan I love how at the end you call Star Trek fans biased...um yeah, thats what a FAN is. 5 stars
5/15/09 Joey B. Title said "Star Trek". Movie was "Star Wars" 2 stars
5/15/09 Aaron I'm no Trekkie, but I had a good time with this. 4 stars
5/15/09 Rick B I mostly agree with you. This movie is way shallow. A lot of promise though. 3 stars
5/15/09 dirtworshipper I don't know what this movie was but it wasn't ST. What an insipid abomination. 1 stars
5/14/09 Pokejedservo I am pretty neutral regarding Star Trek but this was a pretty cool movie. 4 stars
5/14/09 DW This movie pales compared to the reviewer's ability to reboot the run-on-sentence. 4 stars
5/14/09 Brian As an old trek fan, I thought the movie was awesome, fresh, great CGI, fast paced. 5 stars
5/14/09 Baloney Why couldn't the X-Files franchise have created a film this good? 5 stars
5/13/09 sarah eh.... 2 stars
5/13/09 James Worst ST Movie EVER! Not very well thought out-not character driven 1 stars
5/13/09 ES Good, hopefully the last they use time travel in this new adaptation. 4 stars
5/13/09 Tokyospike I like this ship! It's exciting! 4 stars
5/13/09 BadAstronaut What an awful mess. Very sad. 2 stars
5/12/09 Vent Has its moments, but there are several hundred ST episodes better written than this 2 stars
5/12/09 Ming One of the best Star Trek film..Great introduction for the next generation 5 stars
5/12/09 Lifelongtreklover Expected much; hugely disappointed. Script chocked full of cliches; mediocre CGI. Bored. 2 stars
5/12/09 flyboy This film getting more credit than it deserves-mediocre screenplay/dialog, but good cgi 2 stars
5/12/09 Bill Mind bogglingly stupid. Just gets dumber the more I think about it. Shocking. 1 stars
5/12/09 green-bosom Agreed the writers are hacks, merely ok, I have watched all 700-odd star-trek eps though 3 stars
5/11/09 MiloDC Orci and Kurtzman are hacks. Abrams did a lot with very little. 3 stars
5/11/09 ZeroLord Anyone notice Spock demostrating Picard maneuver? 4 stars
5/11/09 Koitus Yeah, it had seom issues (cerebral cortex critters; Uhura roommate scene)-but still good! 4 stars
5/11/09 peter never seen an episode of trek b4 but this was excellent. must see at the theaters. amazing 5 stars
5/11/09 Kenton This guy must not have watched the same movie I did, I went to see it twice. 5 stars
5/11/09 Michael Changing Star Trek history was stupid. 3 stars
5/11/09 I Am Jack's Appendix It was just ok for me, dawg. 3 stars
5/10/09 Shane Yours is the only review I agree with. It was a lazily written, insulting script. 2 stars
5/10/09 killabrams this movie disposes of every concept behind the real star trek. total trash!!!!! 1 stars
5/10/09 malcolm good for ST historians and people looking for a place to jump in 4 stars
5/10/09 Rontianjin Facinating! Saw it 4 times this weekend. Can't wait for the ongoing mission 5 stars
5/10/09 Kai This critic is a douchebag. The movie, while not perfect, is fantastic for STAR TREK! 5 stars
5/10/09 Entropia Thin on plot, but great style and character group dynamic make up for it (mostly). 4 stars
5/10/09 Ronda I love theway they have reinvented the characters! I can't wait to see what's next! 5 stars
5/10/09 TheDemiurge It was like a bad remake of Galaxy Quest. I'm in shock. 2 stars
5/10/09 YoJimbo Just saw it. It's like junk food. You eat it, it taste just OK, and u forget about it after 3 stars
5/10/09 Darkstar Best movie so far this year 5 stars
5/10/09 Terry Super flick. Just the kind to make a critic who wants to stand out in a crowd do just that. 5 stars
5/10/09 Donald You are too kind to this mess. Simplistic contrived plot and dialogue. 1 stars
5/10/09 David Grouix Saw it twice in one day, even better the second time. 5 stars
5/10/09 Gerry This guy is an idiot 5 stars
5/10/09 Dan Chock full of lame, lazy plot devices which totally alter the entire history of Trek 1 stars
5/10/09 Mal Gibson This movie starts off as Top Gun and ends like Galaxy Quest. Truly awful! 1 stars
5/10/09 Don Great charaters, masterfully directed! And it is so Trek! 5 stars
5/09/09 Brian Peter, you might have noticed by now, but you are in the minority. 5 stars
5/09/09 Miles Great action movie! 5 stars
5/09/09 Wil Entertaining, not Star Trek. 4 stars
5/09/09 Jim nauseam The plot device that erases the previous Star Trek universe was quite a clever idea. 5 stars
5/09/09 mr.mike As close to perfection as it could possibly be. 5 stars
5/09/09 Alex Kirk and Spock are extremely well-drawn characters. This is a characters story. Thumbs up. 5 stars
5/09/09 Harri Good action movie but very very silly with huge plotholes, and its not Star Trek. 3 stars
5/09/09 Demosthenes Locke So, Peter...your problem with Pine is that he emulated Shatner, not Kirk? 4 stars
5/09/09 Alison You've entirely missed the point of an AU story. Your loss. 5 stars
5/09/09 Philip Buckley-Mellor I was thoroughly entertained, isn't that enough? 5 stars
5/09/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Implausible tattered lone wolf revenge theme w/Kahn, Shinzon,Nero. Where did the 'trek' go? 4 stars
5/09/09 Toni loved it!!! I"m sad Peter didn't like it 5 stars
5/09/09 Kevin W. It didn't work for me. I would rather have seen another Next Gen. based film. 2 stars
5/08/09 Brian Mckay My love of Trek has been reborn. IMAX it if at all possible. Jaded fanboy haters stay home. 5 stars
5/08/09 mick As a stand-alone film, would have been extrodinary sc-fi. sexed up star trek instead. 1 stars
5/08/09 Spliner Terrible review. The movie was great! If it wasn't for the ho-hum soundtrack it'd get 5 4 stars
5/08/09 Brian His review was pretty acurrate. Good action Sci fi? Sure, Good Star Trek? Not so much. 4 stars
5/08/09 Tom Overman you are an idiot 5 stars
5/08/09 NotADieHardTrekkie You didn't understand the plot if you thought destroying planets was "collateral damage". 5 stars
5/08/09 John W Good review. Time travel unnessicary & has screwed our time line. Need more red matter now! 3 stars
5/08/09 Don Noble this review is spot on. The move is good at best. The story is weak and copies other movies 3 stars
5/08/09 OrciAndKurtzmanSuck Childress nailed it in his review. 1 stars
5/07/09 Aesop ST? All aces. HB should stop headlining reviewers from Bombay watching bootlegged releases. 5 stars
5/07/09 William Goss Phil: Referring to mine? Thanks. Colleagues aren't out for traffic, tho, I assure you all. 4 stars
5/07/09 Jeff I think he has seen too many films. This movie was AWESOME!! Critic? LOUSY 5 stars
5/07/09 Phil This is the best review so far. The other reviewers seem like they been paid off or somethi 5 stars
5/07/09 the_divvy_with_the_shivvy 5 stars for the review, cracking review indeed, well said, well put, shocking remake! 5 stars
5/07/09 OMAN Haven't seen it.But man,you need a writing class 1 stars
5/07/09 Remi To say that Star Trek: The Motion Picture tried to please mainstream audiences is crazy. 5 stars
5/07/09 David Anderson wow did he attend the same movie I did? disaster? fails? are you kidding? wow, just wow. 5 stars
5/07/09 Damon Thrift I'll 2nd that, Disagree completely. This movie rocks. 5 stars
5/07/09 Mark Ford Couldn't disagree more as an original fan. This movie made my pre-teen nephews new fans! 5 stars
5/07/09 Joshua Childress, have fun eating your words as tons of new "Trekkies" are born. 1 stars
5/07/09 Speck Critics who don't have a elementary grasp of grammar are not credible. 4 stars
5/07/09 Casey Toilsome. Never seen a reviewer so full of himself. I prefer the movie over boresome prose. 5 stars
5/07/09 kock&spirk bitter much? 5 stars
5/07/09 Callighan In the tie-in comics, Nero's history is explained. Resolution in movie is logical. 4 stars
5/07/09 Jonathan Lifelong trekkie. Disagree completely. 5 stars
5/07/09 Jason Laughlin Childress, periods and tense agreement. try to get familiar with them. Your writing stinks. 1 stars
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  07-May-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Nov-2009


  DVD: 17-Nov-2009

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