May 17, 2013
Boy, this is going to be one short review. This movie has more spoilers than the 1967 Enterprise had Tribbles…and in the interest of full disclosure, this is written by the Cinema Siren who owns chairs from the Voyager show, can list the original episodes in order of appearance, has a T-shirt with a quote in Klingon, and a model of the Enterprise signed by all the original cast members.
That is to say, fandom lives here. Any experience of watching the new release by director J. J. Abrams would naturally be filtered through a brain steeped in Star Trek knowledge and lore. That being said, there is, unlike some long-term fans, no automatic hate for anything new. To my mind, the cast, theme, and story lines of the reboot are very much in keeping with and inspired by the history of the franchise.
I hope even non-trekkers ambivalent about sci-fi in general will agree in enthusiastically recommending this extremely exciting expansion on the story of the lives of the Enterprise family. For fans, it is truly a Qapla’ majQa’. (Klingon for “success well done”). Abrams and his fleet of writers have managed to create a sequel that is all action, but still gives weight and import to character defining interactions between the captain and his crew.
The actors playing the mains, from Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, to newcomer villain Benedict Cumberbatch, all stay true to their roles, and those we’ve seen before continue to make them their own. As Kirk, Pine seems challenged to fill the shiny black captain boots of scenery chewing Bill Shatner, while staying believable and engaging.
Quinto has had to expand significantly on the original Spock’s emotional spectrum and will no doubt continue to do so, not least evidence by the relationship they have created between Spock and Uhura. Zoe Saldana as the iron-willed communications officer brings Gene Roddenberry’s appreciation of strong women into the newest Star Trek incarnation beautifully.
Doctor McCoy, however, has not fared as well. As Bones, the delicious Karl Urban does little more than grouse and warn gravely about various goings on. In the process, he does show himself to be a great friend to Kirk, but I would have liked to have seen more nuance in his role this go around. John Cho and Simon Pegg as Sulu and Scotty, are given pivotal moments in the script in which to shine, and they make their moments onscreen count.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays this film’s villain as a complicated, enigmatic, and tortured soul. His voice is so mellifluous, I kept asking Siren Spouse if he thought there were special effects on it to make it so thick and silky. No wonder he is already a sex symbol in the UK. There is both a tenderness and a ferocity in how he designs his John Harrison. The audience is drawn in and has no idea what to think of him, which is as it should be…
It is interesting to note that at various times during the 132 minutes, circumstances are such that all the major characters cry. Why? I’ll never tell. Don’t worry, there are moments of laughter in store for the audience as well.
What I can tell is there are many long standing classic stories of the franchise that get turned on their head. For those who have been watching Star Trek movies and TV shows their whole lives, there are parts both big and tiny that will amuse, confound, surprise, and shock. The movie is often going at such hyper speed, though, even newbies will enjoy the ride.
How can you get through the whole review without mentioning any plot points, you ask?
There’s a bad guy, banter, danger, excitement and lots of explosions. There’s the Enterprise. She and her crew are Boldly Going. At warp factor 10. For about 132 minutes. Isn’t that all you need to know? Go explore this strange new world.