Newest Review: ... trek series. Basically this films starts off at the birth of Jim Kirk (one of the main captains of the startrek enterprise). SPOILER ... more
Warp Speed & Dilithium Chambers... Star Trek for the 21st Century
Star Trek XI (DVD)
Member Name: Novabug
Star Trek XI (DVD)
Advantages: Great Action, Special effects, Simple plot, some good performances some and nice back - references .
Disadvantages: Romulan's are poorly presented, Kirk portrayal a bit over the top .
--For God's Sake Jim, I'm a Dwarfer not a Trekkie!--
Although I am a big fan of Sci-Fi, Star Trek was one of the shows that, despite it's huge following, I found a little too overblown and serious. Especially compared to the darkness of Alien & Silent Running or the humour of Hitch Hikers, Red Dwarf and Dark Star. Maybe because I grew up with Patrick Stewart's 'Next Generation' (TNG) and subsequent series', I missed the frivolity of Gene Roddenberry's 'Original' 60's series. Watching TNG seemed a little boring compared to Red Dwarf, which is my favourite Sci-fi series. I can certainly understand how it has became such a recognisable and valuable franchise. From the basic concept story, the boisterous leader and the whizz-wow of star ships in space, to a multi-cultural cast and poignant morals placed into every story, it has the ability to connect to a lot of people, despite the constant techno-babble of the 90's episodes.
During the noughties however, the interest waned for Star Trek outside it's die-hard Trekkie following, and a much needed injection of anti-matter was needed to spice up the franchise, with sci-fi hits like Heroes and Fringe taking the plaudits, the producers decided this was the way to go. I always thought that after the rather dire 'Enterprise' series, it was either time to retire Star Trek or give it a re-birth for a next generation (glup!) of fans. Planning for a new film started in the mid-2000's, with an objective to bring this new interest into the Star Trek world. With the risky choice of replacing the entire cast and changing the continuity, thus maybe upsetting the hardcore fans, this film was unleashed to a big response and was a global hit. The clever compromise that the producers did was to create an alternate timeline within the narrative. You can choose to either take this as a total reboot, or as part of the original story taken in a vastly different direction. I personally go for the former, as it seems to work better as a reboot in my mind, and this is a tricky thing to do with such a popular franchise, but Christopher Nolan did this brilliantly with Batman, and so does JJ Abhams with this, as I will explain in due course.
After a rather nice and low key introduction sequence, we are trust into the future aboard the Starfleet vessel USS Kelvin, where George Kirk is the first officer. Upon discovering a black hole, a giant Romulan ship emerges and engages the Kelvin in an unexplained fire fight. After the captain of the Kelvin is killed, the ship is evacuated of all crew and families, including George's wife who's in labour. To ensure the successful escape of his wife and crewmates, George stays on the bridge to fend off the advancing Romulan ship, and is left with no alternative but to crash the Kelvin into the enemy craft, thus sacrificing his life. Just before this, he has an emotional talk with his wife, and they agree on the name of their baby. Jim Kirk is born.
This is the genesis of the alternate timeline the film follows, removing the events of all previous Star Trek adventures, and we follow Kirk, Spock and other familiar names through their young lives to aboard the newly built USS Enterprise. The story then revolves around the themes of trust, revenge, friendship and the revelation that time has been changed, leading to a predictable, but satisfying ending. Whilst the plot may seem a little confusing for non-sci-fi fans, I feel it's a rather simple tale of coming of age and outright revenge on the part of the antagonists. It's an easy to follow narrative, with lots of the usual Star Trek technical chatter kept to a minimum for the newby. There are very few surprises along the way though, just good ol' morality sequences and space-blaster banter. Whether you choose to include this film within the original timeline is your choice, as it can be taken as a complete reboot, which is what I did even before watching.
--Cast and Performances--
Highlighting Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame, the performance of Spoke he gives is by far and large the best portayal of the film, especially considering the massive differences between this and his great psycho Sylar that he made his own. I read somewhere that he prepared methodically for the role, and it shows on screen. His dialogue, tone and manner all fit what a Vulcan is scripted to be like, and also shows Spock's struggle between logic and emotion brilliantly. Leonard Nimoy is just too familiar as 'older' Spock, but strangely makes a good disconnection from the older films, making the vision that Quinto would become Nimoy in this setting. Casting for the other well-known's is on the whole good, with a wonderful take on Deforest Kelly's Dr McCoy by Karl Urban, getting the accent and temperament just right. The actors for Sulu, Uhura and Chekov all the fit the bill nicely, with just a tad of over enthusiastic pronunciation by Anton Yelchin, emulating the classic Chekov to a more comic effect then usual. Chris Pine however, in my view does not do Kirk justice with his high tempered, gung-ho american kickabout style. He looks the part yes, and some scenes are played out well and can make you forgive this, particularly the fights scenes with do hark back nicely to the original Kirk's style. But his display of arrogance and lack of empathy tend to annoy, just trying to hard I feel. Finally, I had serious concerns about the casting of Simon Pegg as Scotty. I'm not the biggest Pegg fan, because, I feel he just plays himself in most things, with little change from Spaced to Hot Fuss, but I'm glad to report he does a good job. A cheeky Scottish accent delivered well with the fresh wide-eyes face of a young man with wisdom makes him believable as the king of starship engineering.
Chris Pine - James Tiberius Kirk
Zachary Quinto & Leonard Nimoy - Spock
Eric Bana - Captain Nero
Karl Urban - Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy
Zoe Saldana - Nyota Uhura
John Cho - Hikaru Sulu
Anton Yelchin - Pavel Chekov
Simon Pegg - Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott
Bruce Greenwood - Christopher Pike
The major positive for me with this new Star Trek is that the 'feel' of the film is so familiar, but new and fresh at the same time. As said before, I take this as a reboot of the franchise, I feel It works better like that, as trying to filter through all the possibilities, errors and plot-holes of matching it up with the previous films. Forget that, and just enjoy this new beginning. The story itself does hold your attention for the most part. After an explosive start, things settle down a bit to become acquainted with all the regular faces. Whilst this is done well to bring in a new audience, older 'Trek' fans may find this tedious and maybe dull. Things liven up when we see the Enterprise in all it's glory however, and from then on, it's pretty much a non-stop, fast flowing film which is surprisingly easy to follow. No Matrix or Vanilla Sky type plot confusion here.
Apart from the performance of Pine as Kirk, the other thing that doesn't float my boat about this film is the presentation of the Romulan's. Not instantly recognisable, either by look or ship appearance, or even by the way they talk, they are like a new breed of alien completely. I don't like their tattooed faces, grimy dark ship interior and lack of code and seem completly alterered from the classic Romulan villain, who were ordered, mannered and more menacing as a result. It may have been better to create a new enemy altogether.
The heavy technical dialogue associated with Star Trek may put some people off watching, but bare with it, as this has been toned down considerably, following more straightforward solutions rather than the wild, perplexing and sometimes nonsensical ideas of TNG and Voyager. Breaking the intricacies of the plot down, it is a rather basic revenge and acceptance tale. This is good thing however, as it doesn't distract from the general engaging entertainment and action, and there's plenty of that.
The space sequences, internal ship scenes and other planets surfaces are extremely well done, with lovely camera angles and motion to admire the effects put in. Whilst the general look of starfleet is familiar, darker tones, metallic movements and a more industrial 'real' look have been put in, making this possible future a less clean and perfect vision of other Star Trek shows. This is a great benefit to the film, gaining a more believable aspect even though the craziness of warp engines, phasers and of course, teleporters are still present. The CGI effects are of the highest quality, and the first look of the Enterprise at space-dock may give a fan a goose-bump or two, as it is brilliantly re-imagined with all the typical design asthetics that made the 60's one so famous. A favourite sequence of mine is the camera tracking behind a shuttle-craft, into the aft of the ships cargo bay doors. Very stylish and slick.
This leads on to something which will have loyal Trek fans nodding in approval. Many references are made to the classic series' and film, focusing on character catchphrases and technology in the most part. The interier of the Bridge is faithfully re-created with a modern twist, following on from what our currant technology achievements are, but little things are their too. A brief shot of George Kirk's wife holding an original flip-style communicator, with the accompanying sound effect is an example of this, and brings wry grin to my face. Bones', Scotty's, Chevkov's and Spock's catchphrases are in there too at suitable points, and for the real Star Trek geek (I mean that fondly), a green lady at the Starfleet academy, echoing episodes back in the 60's. This all makes for a fun watch for the fan, and mostly goes amiss on the new-watcher, so nothing is lost in either party. There is even the tragically comic 'redshirt' stereotype included, who predictably meets an abrupt end.
Sci-Fi has a long tradition of a fine musical score to accompany the visuals, and with not a great deal can be heard over the classic Trek sound effects of the view screen scanner and transporter, the primary music is a re-arranged version of the classic 60's theme, with a bit of the TNG version chucked in for good measure. Again, this goes unnoticed and as such, blends well with the films ebb and flow, and ending with an extended Star Trek theme, headed by the legendary words spoken by Spoke.
--Presentation and Production--
The menu screen is lively, turning your TV into a starship control screen with the normal Star Trek designs of shaped boxes with the options inside, with a non-distracting wire-image of the Enterprise in the background. Easy and simple to navigate around.
Year of film Release - 2009
Year of DVD Release - 2009
Region - 2, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio Anamorphic Widescreen
Age Rated - 12
Discs - 1
Languages available - English
Sound - Dolby Digital
Total Feature runtime - 122 mins
Film release by Paramount Pictures/Spyglass/Bad Robot Co
DVD release by Paramount Pictures
Produced by J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof
Directed by JJ Abrams
--Packaging and DVD Extras--
Standard single DVD plastic box, with a sleeve of Kirk, Spock and Uhura in grayscale tones with the Enterprise in warp-speed in the foreground. Clear DVD information on the back, unlined by a colourful image of one of the Romulan's weapons. DVD extra are basic on this single disc edition. An interesting featurette of the new style of this Star Trek and a out-take reel are included. No complaints with this.
Whilst this could have been a massive failure if it didn't hit the right notes with the 'Trekkie' fraternity, it comes across as a well written and throughly planned movie, the producers taking into consideration all Star Trek related aspects. Wanting to gain a new, younger audience to be immersed in Star Trek is a good idea to continue the faltering franchise, and does this well and at the same time will please the regular watchers. With it's high octane action, fantastic effects, simple but engaging story and some fine performances, particularly Quinto, Star Trek has been reborn successfully, despite a few niggles with Pine and the choice of enemy. Fun to watch for all fans old and new, and not something to 'warp' your brain either.
To Boldly Go where 10 films have Gone before... well, sort of.
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
Summary: A good sci-fi flick for old and new, may disappoint a few though.