Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek

Since the first episode of Lost, I’ve thought of J.J. Abrams as a genius. Here’s a man that knows how to deliver the goods to the audience and not bore us with drawn out narratives or stick lackluster fillers in to make up for time quotas.

Not only does he know how to produce great fanfare for us entertainment seekers, he also knows how to promote it. Think back to when we all went to see Transformers and saw that mysterious trailer where we saw explosions inside a big city, with buildings collapsing and ending with the Statue of Liberty’s head being thrown down a street and landing right in front of the camera. Remember that? You might also recall how the trailer didn’t even have a title! All we saw was the date of 1-18-08. I went nuts! Apparently, so did a lot of movie goers, because the Internet went ballistic with a few sites and so many theories as to what the movie was about. See, nobody knew that this was coming; nobody knew that J.J. Abrams had this project going on, so the surprise was evident throughout the fans. The trailer caused a buzz that I haven’t witnessed since the Independence Day trailer debuted showing all these shadows that showed up everywhere with everybody looking into the sky. But at least that movie trailer had a title to let you know what was coming.

When the title was finally set (as Cloverfield) we all waited with baited breath for it to arrive in theaters and finally had the privilege to see that extravaganza. But before it started, another teaser trailer delighted fans of both J.J. Abrams and Trekkies alike. We hear famous quotes from leaders speaking about space travel. As we do, the screen showed construction workers welding on this big metallic service. While we are seeing this, the screen is widening. Finally, we hear the familiar voice of Leonard Nimoy speak the words, “Space…the final frontier,” and the screen widens enough to see that the construction workers are building the USS Enterprise. The screen goes dark and shows the Star Trek emblem/logo, with the clever "Under Construction" tag ending the trailer. Yes, J.J. Abrams knows what he’s doing and conveys it favorably by giving the audience what they want.

The movie opens with action as the USS Kelvin discovers an electrical storm in space, revealing an enormous spacecraft that houses the Romulan, Nero, and his crew. The gigantic ship is no match as it opens fire on the Kelvin for a while then has Nero pop up on the intercom screen asking the captain, Robau, to come on board for a talk. As Robau prepares to go into the shuttle, he names the first officer, George Kirk, to man the ship as captain while he’s on board the Romulan ship.

As expected, things go bad and it turns out that Kirk’s wife is on board, 9 months pregnant with their child. As mentioned in the trailer, George Kirk was captain of the ship for 12 minutes and in that time he was able to save 800 lives.

The opening of this film was just what I expected of Abrams; not that I knew what the plot was or what exactly was going to happen, but just the fact that I knew he’d open with something that would knock the socks off the audience. The look of the film was something of a grand scale and gave the audience what they wanted to see.

The look of the USS Enterprise as it was docked and being constructed on Earth gave it the scale it needed; with the young James T. Kirk watching it from afar, it looked colossal and massive. And in space, the ship kicked ass! Never have I seen the Enterprise go into battle like this one did in this film.

Chris Pine as James Tiberius Kirk worked well along with the other cast, as this movie gives them all something to do and not use them as background filler. Zoe Saldana as Uhura was used excellently as the communications officer, an expert in alien linguistics. John Cho as Sulu didn't just sit behind some make believe control panel and press buttons, he was able to kick some ass in one amazing scene. Simon Pegg was hilarious and well put as Scotty. And the young Anton Yelchin was perfect as Chekov.

Two actors in this film were perfectly cast as Dr. McCoy and Spock.

First, Karl Urban channeled DeForest Kelly's personality brilliantly without making a caricature of it. The scenes with Kirk and McCoy were perfect and didn't go too far with the fun of it.

Secondly, and the best actor cast for this film, was Zachary Quinto as Spock. He embodied Spock perfectly, but I don’t think t was a big effort. If you’ve seen Quinto in the TV show, Heroes, you’ll know that his character is very much like Spock’s. Not to say that he’s a one dimensional actor, but just to show that he was perfect to fill in the Vulcan ears.

The story was well done, the action and visuals placed flawlessly, it didn’t ruin the continuity of the other films since this is basically the origin of all the characters and the cast came through without a hitch. Really, there’s nothing I can complain about in this one.

My final “bit” on this flick? I’m not a big Star Trek fan, but this is something I’ll probably want to own once it comes out on Blu-Ray. It doesn’t bore; it doesn’t go too much into the Star Trek familiarity that will keep the non-Trekkie confused and not know what’s going on. In fact, if you want to get into the old television series or watch the Star Trek movies of the 80s and 90s, it may be wise to go into this film first as an introduction to the saga.