It’s now just a few hours since I got to watch the new Star Trek film. And unlike last week, when I went to see Wolverine, I’ve recognised that when I can’t sleep soon afterwards as a direct result, lying in bed tossing and turning is not the answer. Hence I’m up, writing this review in the early hours on my Netbook.
Not many people realise just how much of a Trek film I’ve been in the past, thanks to my more-recent Star Wars conversion. I think I was put off Trek in the end by too many insipid films and tv series that didn’t little more to expand the “franchise” 1. Never-the-less, I can recite Wrath of Khan word-for-word and can turn onto most episodes of Next Generation and identify the episode within a few short seconds.
So what was JJ Abrams, he of Cloverfield, MI:3, Lost and Alias, going to make with a series that most people considered already dead?
Well, he’s been bold 2. Unbelievably bold.
Ok, let me try and explain. The film, if you didn’t know already, takes us back to a young Kirk, when he first commands the Enterprise, and meets all the other characters in Trek that we know so fondly. The bad guy is a Romulan and, I don’t think I’m giving essential plot details away, he’s from the future. And there’s the device. Or McGuffin, as it’s known. Because this guy, Nero, has changed the past. He changes everything from Kirks upbringing to how he gets his command. Yes, die hard Trekkers, tear up your Encyclopaedia of Trek because this film changes it all. JJ Abrams has envisaged a new version of the Trek universe and has found a plot device to do it. And unlike most films, there isn’t a fantastic time-travelling conclusion that puts everything back to how it was. The Trek universe has changed and it’s staying that way. And doing that needed a lot of balls.
Having said all that, the bad guy wasn’t that exciting – he’s certainly no Khan. As with most “first” films it spent a lot of time setting up all the introductions and allowing you to get to know the characters, so the second film may be better with a lot more time to dedicate to more of an action romp.
Let’s turn to the actors now. Chris Pine was unexpectedly brilliant – he WAS Kirk – and a stand out for me. All the other characters were spot on too. Chekov gives early comic relief, with Scotty providing it later. However, I have to give maximum kudos to Karl Urban as McCoy – simply fantastic.
References to Trek past (or is that future?) came thick and past, with various quotes from Wrath of Khan and even a mention of Captain Archer from Enterprise. In some cases I think they even overdid the references, almost crowbarring them in every other sentence.
The effects – provided by ILM – were as excellent as you’d expect and the whole thing had the retro feel of the original TV series without looking too 60’s and odd. Sound effects old and new were mixed together and you’ll have to wait until the final credits to hear the original music. But when it does come, it’s a modern mix of the original series music, complete with the singing, set to a cheesy, but somehow still good, credit sequence.
It’s a very good film and a fine reboot to bet things restarted again. With a bit more action and a finer script next time around, it could seriously threaten Wrath of Khan as the best Trek film. But not quite yet.
I was worried what JJ Abrams would do with Star Trek, but I shouldn’t have worried. He’s brought it into the 21st Century with humour, action and a touch of very classy retro.
Oh, and before I forget – there’s no extra scenes during or at the end of the titles! So no need to sit in the cinema until the bitter end if you don’t want to. I do that for you 😉
[review]The best Trek for a while, and JJ Abrams have set up the franchise for a new generation. Brilliant casting and effects, let down only by a slightly limp script.[/review]
- an expression often used and just goes to show that they think of Star Trek more as a money making exercise than anything else
- no “boldly gone” jokes, please