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Star Trek: A Review for Civilians

Written by: Tom Hardej, Special to CC2K

ImageStar Day: May 9, 2009. These are the men and women of the Star Trek Enterprise, boldly going where no ewok has gone before. Okay, okay, I'll stop. Please turn your phasers from kill back to stun. I'm just trying to illustrate here, straight off the bat, that I am no Trekkie. I do not own, nor have I ever worn a Starfleet uniform, like the guy sitting in front of me when I saw the latest Star Trek, nor do I own any kind of toy phaser with blinking lights, like the guy sitting to the right of me. I'm just a regular civilian, looking for a good time at the movies.

And thankfully, that's exactly what I found.

I can't say I expected to like what was being touted as: "Not Your Father's Star Trek.” The ads made it look too slick, too sexy. I can't say that I was inspired by Chris Pine's casting as Captain Kirk, either, since to date, his biggest roles have been as that guy Lindsay Lohan falls for in Just My Luck, and as that guy Anne Hathaway falls for in The Princess Diaries 2. On top of all that, J.J. Abrams' last outing, albeit as a producer, Cloverfield, still left a bad taste in everyone's mouths. So the good news is that when the bar is set so low for a movie, you can't help but being pleasantly surprised!

That was just a joke – the movie is actually super-cool. From the first scene it moves at warp speed (I know. I'm sorry), and doesn’t disengage (Again, I'm sorry, but maybe this proves my civilian status, since a real Trekkie would never apologies for nerd-speak in a review.) until the credits role. Honestly, it is slick and it is sexy, by virtue of the young attractive actors cast in the parts. And it does favor ironic attachment over the earnestness of the past movies and the original show. But it's also very funny and referential (not to mention reverential) to the original. The characters all get their catchphrases in (Bones says: "Damn it Jim. I'm not a physicist, I'm a doctor." Spock says: "Live Long and Prosper."), and when they do, it makes you smile. It appropriately walks the line between winking at the old fans, and keeping it current for the new ones (hence the young attractive actors). I would almost, if I thought it wouldn't get me hit in the face, call the movie cute in that way.  There is a lot of winking, but it works, because you always know that the movie is in no way parody.  It is very much trying to make good by the original.

Want a different perspective?

Star Trek: A Review For Trekkers

The story, of course, is the beginning of the Enterprise. At its heart it is also about the beginning of the friendship between Spock (played by Zachary Quinto of Heroes) and Kirk, and that's kind of nice, even if they spend much of the movie telling us that that's what it's about instead of showing us. The rest of the plot is a bit convoluted in a harmless way, so it's not exactly worth even getting into. I'll just say it involves alternate timelines, an aging Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy, of course) concerned about the young Spock, an evil Romulan out for revenge, planets blowing up, Winona Ryder showing up in a weird spot as Spock’s mother, and introducing us to the various members of the enterprise: Scotty, Bones, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, even if none of them get enough time to shows us who they are really. (As someone only marginally aware of Star Trek, you probably already know more than you think about all of these people anyway.) Besides, the plot doesn't matter much because what's exciting, and almost jarring, about the movie is the action, the space fights, the explosions, the aliens, the beaming in and out. Maybe in 40 years this movie will look as cheesy as the original show, but right now the effects are what make it happen.

So, in the end, this movie experience didn't convert me. I'm not running out to buy action figures or anything, but spending two awesome hours in the theatre, and then on the way anticipating what they might do in the next one, are good enough for me.

Star Trek: 8/10

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