Star Trek: A Cinematic Science-Fiction Adventure

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J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek boldly goes where most action films have gone before. However, to conclude that this means the film lacks any unique direction would be misleading. This re-imagining of the 1960s television show is incredibly interesting if not scientifically stubborn, which many die hard fans of the show might expect and demand. Instead of taking itself too seriously, a task series creator Gene Rodenberry excelled in, this action adventure takes off like a rollercoaster and brings the audience easily into a new and fascinating world that explores some of the familiar themes of the old series but offers a new approach that is filled with action, acceptable character interpretations and a more than adequate science fiction story that makes this film exciting and well worth experiencing in the theater.

An intriguing aspect in this vision of Star Trek is the approach screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have in trying to re-create the origins and mythology of the original characters while also re-envisioning the series with a fresh direction. This film is complex in its story delivery due to it being a prequel to the television series but at the same time creates an alternate reality, where this film is separate in time than its predecessor. This essentially means that the reality that is the television series and original Star Trek films still occurred but due to a time traveling incident, which opens up the film in extraordinary action fashion, disturbs the flow of time and puts the fates of these familiar characters on a new plane of reality. A stretch for some hardcore science fiction aficionados who expect more realistic science but this plotline makes the new direction all the more captivating and enjoyable. Another unique depiction Mr. Abrams has is the presentation style that uses camera flares and moving close ups. While this has divided some audience viewers there is much to be appreciated with this technique since it is successfully used to bring to life a close quarters atmosphere that includes the bright technology apparatus in the control room allowing the audience to be more a part of the experience.

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This Star Trek has the usual plotline which follows the stories of our two protagonists James T. Kirk, played haphazardly by Chris Pine, and Spock, portrayed poignantly by Zachary Quinto. J.J. Abrams does an incredible job at expressing the dichotomy these two men represent, Kirk being the representation of emotion reacting to his instincts rather than thinking, while Spock is the clear embodiment of logic even though his half human origins leak into his hard exterior at various points during the film. The film follows both of these men on their journeys to their eventual meeting place at the Star Fleet Academy, where they each hold a feeling of disdain for the other from the very first face to face encounter. It is a wonder how these two incredibly dominant personalities ever became friends but the film explores that struggle delicately and makes it understandable to the audience even amid a barrage of action packed sequences.

Beyond the two protagonists there is a storyline that seems cliché on its exterior but reveals a great deal in it’s subtleties that delivers a riveting on screen experience. At the core of the story there is race of aliens known as the Romulans led by Captain Nero, played exquisitely by Eric Bana, that have come back in time through a black hole with the intention of destroying the existence of Starfleet for Nero blames them and Spock for his own planets demise. Basically it is up to the Starship Enterprise to put a stop to Nero’s genocidal plan and with a villain such as Nero, blinded by vengeance and at times unpredictable, makes this an adventure worth experiencing especially when the Enterprise it at a technological and tactical disadvantage compared to Nero’s monstrous spaceship.

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This isn’t to say that all is well with this newly revamped version of Star Trek. There are some occasional dialogue weaknesses that show how difficult it was to write the dialogue for the television shows. Sometimes it isn’t the dialogue but rather the actor’s delivery, such as Karl Urban as Dr. “Bones” McCoy who seems to parody some of the lines rather than project them with the personality of the desired character. The worst aspect of the film is the development of the villain, which goes from unpredictable and demented, to vain and weak with self-disillusionment. Eric Bana portrays Nero with vigor and intensity that needed to be more present on the screen yet the script tries to place him on the sidelines as much as possible. This is not usually a wise decision for your best actor in the cast. However, most of the performances are well done with notable interpretations from John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. I was being a little harsh on Karl Urban before but he does give a good performance, one that is memorable and quite different than his usual casting roles.

All in all J.J. Abrams Star Trek is a success when knowing that it’s intention was to be an interesting action packed science fiction adventure. An intriguing plotline with more than decent performances is already a formula for a good picture, but Abrams familiarity with television punctuality and exciting action delivery gives Star Trek quite the cinematic boost. Despite the film almost venturing into blockbuster action conformity the film remains its own unique depiction of the science fiction genre that proves to be an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Grade: B+

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