Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Review - Star Trek

(Another Brief Plug Before We Go Any Further:- Oh yes, my friends, I am popular this week. A couple of days ago, you got two posts from me - one here and one over at TishTahs's blog. Well, I'm repeating that trick today as the lovely Anna Russell of Incoherent Ramblings has also gone on holiday and requested a slice of Baldy action to keep her loyal readers entertained. Go and have a read at my continued attempts to gradually take over all of Blogger, blog by blog, and then read all her other stuff because she's really rather good and you should be following her. Anyway, back to the subject in hand)

Some spoilers ahead....

In A Nutshell:- It's Star Trek, Jim, but not as we know it (oh, come on, look, I know that's really lazy but at least indulge me on that one...)

The Basics:- Quite frankly, if you don't know what Star Trek is or haven't heard of this much-talked-about relaunch of the film franchise then I'm not entirely sure how you managed to switch on a computer and find this blog but let's give you a bit of background anyway. The man who gave us Alias and Lost has been tasked with taking a lucrative but, let's face it, dying sci-fi franchise and making it young, fresh and exciting for Da Kids. Has it worked?

The Good:- Fortunately, I'm happy to say there is very much that is good about this. The first thing that it made me realise was that Star Trek has, for a long time, needed a young, fresh cast to make it fun and action-packed again. Much as I love (most of) the original set of films, they mainly dealt with the themes of aging and impending retirement (yes, even the Next Generation cast who were heading towards their older years as well by the time they moved to the films). The main thing that's been missing? The old-school, swaggering, cocky, drinking, fighting, womanising Kirk who's very much present and correct in Chris Pine's performance. That's not to say that he's the standout, mind. Zachary Quinto as Spock and particularly Karl Urban as McCoy are pitch perfect. Not so much doing impressions of the previous actors but managing to capture their style and characterisation. The rest of the crew are all good but are fairly underused (although that's not overly different for the original anyway). Simon Pegg's Scotty is great fun and, even if his accent does waver from time to time, at least it feels like he's actually heard a Scottish accent in the first place. And Zoe Saldana's Uhura is well fit.
So is it a reboot or a continuation? Well, it satisfyingly manages to be both, using Leonard Nimoy to tie it in to the original series before cutting loose the forty-odd years worth of stories that have gone before and leaving itself free to blaze a new trail. This move manages to pull off the dual feat of being pleasing to fans (there are references a-plenty) but not at the expense of leaving it inaccessible for newcomers. Impressive stuff.

The Bad:- As with all first films in a new franchise these days, this film is very much about set-up so the film's main villain, the Romulan Nero (Eric Bana), feels a little weak. Also, there are a few elements that probably don't stand up to a lot of close scrutiny. I mean, if you've been thrown back in time, rather than concoct some elaborate revenge scheme for the destruction of your planet, wouldn't it make more sense to try and prevent that destruction (especially as the film demonstrates that you are able to alter what has gone before)? But, really, these are minor niggles when the film's main mission statement is to provide thrilling big-screen entertainment.

Closing Remarks:- So, in my opinion, J.J. Abrams appears to have pulled off the seemingly impossible - he's made a Star Trek film that's fun, exciting, uncluttered by history while still providing plenty of nods to the past and enjoyable if you're a newcomer or a lifelong fan. It's not the most intellectually stimulating of sci-fi films but it's big, action-y fun. A definite thumbs up and a hearty recommendation from this humble reviewer.


kapgaf said...

After your comments, perhaps I shall boldly go and see this film.

Belle said...

I could so easily shag Eric Bana.

Anna Russell said...

I've been wanting to see this since I first saw the trailers, and I'm not even that big a Star Trek Fan. But now you've told me Eric Bana is in it, I think Imax is in order. Followed by a cold shower.

That Baldy Fella said...

kapgaf - Yep, common consensus seems to be that it's fun even if you don;t like Star Trek (from the three people I spoke to in my office).

Belle - He's all yours but you might have to fight Anna.

Anna - He's all yours but you might have to fight Belle.