Star Trek

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The Wrath of Eric Bana

STAR TREK

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto

By Tom Bevis

The black of space.  A massive alien vessel exits from a vortex and engages a much smaller ship in a firefight.  Bright flashes fill the screen as the two ships take part in a digitally choreographed battle of lights.  We glance into the smaller ship, we see the engine rooms as sparks fly and jets of flame shoot from the walls.  We feel the turbulence as the ship is battered by superior firepower.  We enter the bridge in time to hear the captain of the enemy ship make his demands: the captain of the USS Kelvin will leave, via shuttle, and come aboard the attacking vessel.

Moments later, the captain is dead, the smaller ship is on the brink of annihilation, and in the confines of a small escape pod, James Tiberius Kirk, future captain of the USS Enterprise and intergalactic hero, is being born.  This may sound, at first, stock and pretentious, but thanks to incredibly believable portrayals from the actors, stunningly rendered digital effects, and masterfully written dialog, the scene is both amazing and terrible.  Truly, science fiction cinema has never been this beautiful.

The latest addition to the already massive Star Trek franchise isn’t exactly prequel, but not entirely a reboot either.  Boasting a new cast behind the original crew of the USS Enterprise, the film deals with a sort of alternate timeline to the original cannon (now quit your complaining and hear me out).  However, unlike other films utilizing such headaches as time-travel and alternative timelines, the creation, use, and resolution of the alternative timeline in Star Trek is both the direct result of and an integral element of the film’s plot.

The Star Trek community was initially dismayed to hear that the man chosen to head this new foray into the franchise wasn’t a fan of the franchise at all.  However, this is easily one of the new film’s strengths.  J.J. Abrams, the mastermind behind television’s “Lost” has a small but impressive resume, and he handled the responsibilities involved in the high-profile picture admirably.  The writers and production team tactfully avoided what may be the cardinal error in Star Trek films of the past: creating a film that catered only to established Star Trek fans.

This new picture is easily accessible by both tried-and-true fans and newcomers alike. Fast-paced action and a youthful and recognizable pulls new audience members in, and the pre-canon timeline makes it easy to start with this film by cutting out the need for forty years of back story.  Familiar character mannerisms, a serious take on establishes canon and culture, and countless references to the original series easily cater to self-proclaimed Trekkies everywhere.

One of Star Trek’s most endearing qualities as a film is the immaculate casting.  Every actor in the film is matched perfectly to their character and adapt the mannerisms and quirks of the original actors to perfection.  Of course, the lead characters – Chris Pine as James Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock – master their roles, but the most surprising success is Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy (affectionately referred to as Bones by members of the crew), a casting decision that puzzled diehard fans early in the films production.

In fact, the film has more star power than any other film this summer.  In addition to Quinto (television’s “Heroes”), the main cast includes John Cho (“Harold and Kumar go to White Castle”) as Hikaru Sulu, Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.  And there are cameos from some other big Hollywood and television names, such as Winona Ryder, Tyler Perry, Jennifer Morrison, Greg Grunberg, and Bruce Greenwood.

When I think about it, there are only two bad qualities of the film.  The first, and most forgivable, is a line written into the script.  The line is delivered as a straight thesis statement to the plot of the film.  It’s the one point in the film’s overall dialog in which the suspension of disbelief was broken and I actually had to consider what was being said and why it was written into the script.  However, this is easily forgivable knowing that it’s Spock giving the line and, after some thought, become the epitome of Spock’s over-analytical and logical nature.

The second require a bit more of an explanation.  I’ve always considered Star Trek to be a much classier science-fiction franchise than Star Wars for one primary reason.  That reason is the scene in the first Star Wars picture when Luke and company visit the cantina in search of a pilot and the camera pans through a variety of bizarre and inexplicable aliens that will never be featured again in the films.

This type of scene, to me, always seemed to be an amateur method of shouting out “Hey!  Look over here!  Weird things!  This means we’ve discovered the wonder of space travel!”  Aside from the pointy-eared Vulcans and green women, Star Trek never stopped so low.  At least, until now.  In at least three scenes, the camera makes cork-screw turns and sudden jolts for the sole purpose of exploiting a CG-developed alien or a bit-character with a physical abnormality, shots that, otherwise, are don’t serve the film at all and are otherwise useless.

While we’re on the subject of CGI, I might as well get into it.  I’ve said it before and, without a doubt, I’ll say it a hundred times more.  One of the biggest hindrances to the modern moviegoer is a stubborn unwillingness to accept computer-rendered graphics as a new tool in film.  The truth is, though, it’s just impossible to make a believable science fiction film without some sort of computer interface.  Even classic sci-fi offerings such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” suffer from a lack of believable graphics.  The way they protest it, one would almost seem to think these people would prefer pie plates being dangled in front of the camera by kite string.  If that’s your thing, look up Ed Wood, he’s got a surprise in store for you.  But if you want something more, check out “Star Trek.”

“Star Trek” runs just over two hours long, which is almost the average length for movies these days.  But the film is so entrancing and exciting, the audience almost laments the rolling after the two hours are over.  So, I urge you, both Star Trek fans and newcomers alike, to take the risk and buy that ticket.  Sit down in the seat, and within ten minutes, you’ll appreciate the purchase and enjoy what may be the prefect science fiction film.

5/5

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Author: Tom Bevis

Tom Bevis is a ne'er-do-well residing in Southern California where he frequently neglects the variable San Diego climate to spend hours pondering over his PS4 collection struggling to decide what to play. He has recently taken over as lead writer of the indie comic Feral Boy and Gilgamesh, the back catalog of which you can read at feralboyandgilgamesh.com. He also hates writing about himself in the third person.

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