Star Trek (2009)

Director: J.J. Abrams
Chris PineZachary QuintoLeonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg

Plot: A chronicle of the early days of James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members.

Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Makeup. Nom. for 3 Oscars - Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing.
Runtime: 126min

Rating: PG
for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content.

Star Trek brings an early relief to critics. At least 2009 will be able to produce at least one excellent blockbuster. J.J. Abrams’ second feature after successfully directing the third installment of the popular Mission: Impossible series, Star Trek is a reboot of an even more popular franchise created by Gene Roddenberry in the late 60s. This new Star Trek movie is neither a prequel nor a sequel; it stands alone as a singular science-fiction vision of Abrams, thus it is safe for non-Trekkies to attempt the film without any prior knowledge of its plot or characters. 

Die-hard fans may be disenchanted by the prospect of a new ensemble of young actors stepping into shoes once worn by older actors who made them distinctively their own. Abrams does not give in to nostalgia. He undoes nearly everything, developing the beloved characters from scratch, and inviting viewers to embrace them once again. Even the U.S.S Enterprise is given a facelift via a re-imagining of the iconic design that is at once modern and retro. 

Because it is the first of hopefully many more sequels, the narrative structure of Star Trek becomes predictable. There is a need to provide a background story and to establish a villain; this is done at breakneck speed within the first ten minutes before the opening title - a huge block-like ‘STAR TREK’ - appears which, coupling to a rousing theme by Michael Giacchino, gives wide-eyed viewers an exciting adrenalin rush and the dizzying anticipation of what is to come. 

J.J. Abrams is a masterful storyteller, and despite sticking to a safe formula, he forms a solid foundation with a potent mix of human story, bits of humor and romance, and astounding space battles, such that when the film ends, there is that inner desire in us to want to board the Enterprise just to see what destiny awaits the protagonists who we have been strongly rooting for. There is no proper closure to the film and this leaves room for a tremendous sequel which Abrams should direct in the near future.

The visual effects and sound editing is top-notch. It invites comparisons to some of the genre’s best offerings; it even gives George Lucas’ space opera a run for its money. The action comes in thick and fast, and is well-choreographed and sustains substantial tension. Viewers who are grounded in reality will be bewildered at the sight of characters’ teleporting from planet to ship or face confusion that the exploration of time travel brings. 

Star Trek is an excellent example of the creative precision that Abrams is able to bring to filmmaking. He makes a complete transition from television drama to the big screen, and he does so with a style so cool and confident that if he continues with this rich vein of form and chooses his future projects wisely, he will soon have blockbuster kings Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan in his sights. And a speechless Michael Bay in his rear mirror. 



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