Saw it Saturday morning at the brand new movie theater at our local mall. What I can tell you all is that it is a very well done, very fast paced, exciting and FUN movie. It was two hours of pure cinematic joy, the most exhilarating movie going experience Iíve had since The Forbidden Kingdom. Mind you, thatís not to say that itís the BEST movie Iíve seen since then. But it is the most fun.
The characters evoke the spirit and nuance, the humanity of who and what they were, both to the show and to pop culture. A friend of mine asked ĎWhat is the most important thing about this remake of Trek in your opinion?í and I immediately replied ĎKirk. If they donít get Kirk right, then it doesnít matter how good the rest of the movie is. Without a convincing Kirk, the rest of this movie is irrelevant. If they get Kirk right, then we can look at the other stuff.í The reason I gave this answer is because Kirk is the very fabric of the original Trek, IMO. He is the most iconic of those icons, the most important. Whether you like Kirk or not (for the record, Kirk is my favorite captain of any of the Trek iterations), he is the anchor of that series. He embodies confidence, swagger, quick thinking, capable leadership and poise-these are the signatures of Kirk. What makes him special, still the standout of any Trek character after 40+ years of history.
Well, they got him right. Christopher Pine doesnít copy Shatnerís acting (as well he shouldnít), but he captures the essence of the character perfectly. He possesses all of the same attributes and I believed him in the role. I believed that Kirk could win the day against all odds, regardless of what might come. That is the essence of James Tiberius-to turn death into a fighting chance for life. So just as Kirk saves the day in the show, so too does he save the franchise from total extinction.
The other two principle characters from the original series (TOS, as itís known to fans), Spock and McCoy, also work, but to varying degree. If Pine captures the essence of Shatner/Kirk without aping him, Karl Urban is channeling the spirit of Deforest Kelly as Leonard ĎBonesí McCoy. You wonít believe how uncanny his performance is as Bones. Itís like the original actor is still with us but somehow got younger and a little bigger (Urban is a bit more imposing than Kelly was). As for Zachary Quinto as Spock, I really enjoyed this version of Spock but we have to be fair-this is a version of Spock weíve not seen before. Heís still very young, still struggling with his half Vulcan/half human existence and he is still fighting against the emotions within him. Vulcans already suppress their emotions, and this movie is suggesting itís harder for someone like Spock, whose physiology and psyche are already different from those of his people due to his dual heritage. Spock has an uphill battle on a number of fronts and the film admirably portrays the character growing up with such baggage. It ainít easy being green blooded, and this movie seems intent on showing us just how much of a struggle Spock will endure to become the person he wants to be.
Purists will complain about the fact that Spock isnít mostly in control as he was in the TV series, but heís still young, heís dealing with an emotional crisis the likes of which most of us could never even comprehend due to the events of the film (wonít spoil it) and heís never had to deal with a maverick like Kirk in his life. Even in the most stable of times, Kirkís sometimes irrational and illogical decisions flustered Spock in the TV show. Imagine what it must have been like for Spock early on. Now pile on the aforementioned emotional crisis. In my opinion, the fact that Spock is dealing with so many issues makes him a complex character and because of this his story canít be as straightforward as it is for Kirk or Bones or any of the others. Spock will still get to where he is supposed to be, but it will take some time. The film makers recognize it and they rightly make him a conflicted character at this early stage of his life.
The rest of the cast rounds it out nicely and they do their jobs well, but letís be frank. They donít need to be more than what they were in the TV series, and wisely the movie doesnít go to too many lengths to elevate them above the status of Ďsupporting characters.í We all know that Star Trek: TOS has always been and will always be about Kirk, Spock and McCoy. They are the fulcrum, and everyone else is just a function with some charm. That is not to downplay their importance to ST or to pop culture, but unlike many Trekkers/Trekkies I am also not overstating it, either. They are what they are, and thatís all they should be. The movie does just enough with them. Maybe a little TOO much with Uhura, but Iíd be quibbling if I said I wanted to see her less.
Special effects, choreography and the music are all top notch. The equal of any Star Wars movie. Which is high praise from me, considering Star Wars is the film franchise I love the most.
The plot is fairly standard but there are some powerful moments in this movie. There are also a ton of exciting parts as the tension builds, both between the heroes and the villains and between the heroes and other heroes (particularly Spock and Kirk-remember, itís early yet in their evolution as friends.) And the movie is FUNNY. There is a LOT of humor in this movie and it never takes itself so seriously that it forgets what it is and what itís supposed to be. And lest I forget to mention it, the events of this film forever change the history of Star Trek. There are canon shaking ramifications to the actions of the time traveling villains in this movie. In a single two hour movie, J.J. Abrams and crew have not only recreated a compelling Trek for a new generation, but theyíve freed themselves of the albatross of 43+ years of storytelling. The universe is wide open again, allowing for the film makers to portray events from the old series with a powerful new vibrance while simultaneously allowing for them to trim the fat off of the old series by discarding some of the sillier episodes. DC Comics faced a similar problem a number of years back when they one day realized they had fifty years of comic book continuity saddled on the backs of their characters. They did a multiverse cleansing epic called Crisis On Infinite Earths which allowed them to push the Ďreset buttoní as it were. This eliminated most of the superfluous continuity issues of all those years of buildup and allowed them to start fresh and new. Call this movie, then, Crisis Of Infinite Treks.
This movie has lived up to Roddenberryís credo, IMO. They have boldly gone where no Trek has gone before. Well done, Bad Robot. Well done. Now itís YOUR ongoing mission, Mr. Abrams, to captain and crew this Enterprise to untold heights. Look out, Star Wars. Look out, Lord Of The Rings. Thereís a new kid knocking on your door and he wants to move in to the house of great movie franchises beside you. Hopefully, heíll earn his spot with each new film and not just be a one hit wonder. My confidence in this matter is not unlike Kirk's. Let's see if they can do the job. They're off to a magnificent start.