Even with high hopes, Star Trek does not disappoint

Star Trek 2009With the unenviable job of portraying favored iconic characters, the cast of the new Star Trek delivers with (if you’ll excuse the expression) flying colors.

It’s no mean feat to pick up the franchise that spawned no less than five television series and ten films (now eleven) in addition to countless conventions, clubs, fanfics, and pop culture references; dust it off, and re-polish the ship’s original crew to take a new look at an old idea. In addition, prequels in general aren’t easy to pull off, particularly with high expectations.

The leads were played by Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock), most famed for playing villain Gabriel “Sylar” Gray of Heroes. Pine manages some of the original Kirk’s swagger with forgivable differences. Quinto plays what seems to be a slightly darker Spock, but one that’s no less believable or lovable for that.

The show is almost stolen, however, by promoted fanboy Karl Urban, the young Doctor McCoy (whose first lines identified the character immediately, even from off camera) and comedian Simon Pegg, playing an unforgettable Scotty.

The film’s overall plot mostly serves as a loose framework within which the characters are allowed to develop. The interplay between them is what sells this flick, and the fact that the actors (minus a couple of rough patches in which your mileage may vary) nailed their respective parts. The story is less about how the crew of the Enterprise can defeat the Big Bad and more about the relationship between Kirk and Spock (and to a lesser degree, everyone else).

If the larger plot took a backseat to character dynamics, it was a sacrifice worth making to see Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, and Checkov so compellingly brought back to life.

The film carries a clear continuity reboot, allowing a new franchise to develop with these actors, while remaining true to the original personalities in delicious ways. Each gets his/her own continuity nod, the delivery for which often qualified for a crowning moment of funny. It was primarily the humorous interplay between the personalities of the characters which drove home that these are, in fact, the same characters we know and love.

The movie’s more serious side allows for multiple crowning moments of heartwarming, and more importantly for the genre, crowning moments of awesome, even culminating in an awesome moment of crowning.

The largest flaw this film had was its soundtrack, by Michael Giacchino (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Incredibles). I found the score to be heavy-handed and obvious, lacking the deep subtlety of James Horner or the building intensity of Hans Zimmer. Giacchino hammers home the already-viewed explosions with action beats coming a bit too late, and emotional moments with huge cheesy swells that feel more like something you’d get from a video game (with apologies to Nobuo Uematsu) than a great movie.

The script is not without its flaws, most of them on the order of Space is Noisy and Sci Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. And some of the changes (both character and continuity) may be difficult for part of the fanbase to accept.

That said, if you approach this film with even a partially open mind, you will find it enjoyable.

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  • Broaddus

    Here’s to hoping Mary will go with me on Saturday to see this movie, it is our anniversary on Monday…

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