Friday, May 08, 2009


Star Trek: Re-energized

Don't walk; don't run. Beam up immediately to see Star Trek.  

I was expecting to catch a midnight viewing Thursday night -- only to be pleasantly surprised to find that the movie actually launched with evening shows.  So, I caught the 8:30 one in Times Square.  

If Iron Man was the out-of-left-field surprise last year, Star Trek may fill that role in '09. No, it's not a "surprise" in that everyone is expecting it.  But, could they guess that it was going to be this good?  Not likelky.  Fans of J.J. Abrams' work with Alias, Lost, and Fringe,  know that the man can craft and direct fantastical stories with heart.  

But rebooting a cultural icon can be treacherous work (look at Bryan Singer who managed to succeed with the first two X-Men movies and fall flat with Superman Returns). But, make no mistake here: Even though Abrams has the perfect pace, balancing all-out action and emotionally bracing scenes, the real MVPs of this movie -- aside from stars Zachary Quinto (as born to play Spock as Patrick Stewart was born to play Professor X), Chris Pine (Kirk) and Eric Bana (the Romulan Nero) -- are writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.  

This movie works -- special effects aside -- because it is very well written. Kurtzman and Orci's key plot device -- involving time travel -- creates real-world generation-spanning emotional satisfaction that can't be described without giving too much away.  Suffice to say, the plot allows the mythology of the original series to live on, while giving the current incarnations of iconic characters a new future to chart.  

There will be some quibble with the manner in which James Kirk becomes captain -- via a brutal manipulation of another character. However, fans of the original series will recall that Kirk wasn't above similar tactics if the occasion warranted.  

Though themes of loss and sacrifice are woven in throughout, the film also has knowing homages to elements of the original series, guaranteed to evoke chuckles and winks from long-time fans. It's hardly a spoiler to say that when a Starfleet crewmember wearing red beams down on a mission...well, you kinda know that this is probably not someone whose name needs to be memorized for the rest of the movie.  Aside from being gorgeous, Zoe Saldan takes a role that is as surprising as it is delightful.  

Yes, there are a couple of eye-rolling effects:  As far as I can tell, even in the 23rd century, certain basic laws of physics haven't been repealed -- two bodies hurtling toward the ground, even if intercepted by a transporter beam should retain their basic momentum when they "land" on a transporter pad.  But, hey, we're talking fantasy here! 

In short, Star Trek is one of the better TV series/movie/sci-fi/comic reboots that I've seen in some time.   


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