DVD Review: STAR TREK: Live Long and Prosper!

Star Trek 2009 DVD coverUSA:PG-13 (certificate #44847) | South Korea:12 | UK:12A | Netherlands:12 | Ireland:12A | Finland:K-13 | Singapore:PG | Norway:11 | Switzerland:10 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:10 (canton of Vaud) | Australia:M | Portugal:M/12 | Italy:T | Canada:G (Quebec) | Canada:PG (Alberta/British Columbia/Manitoba/Ontario) | Brazil:12 | Sweden:11 | Philippines:G (MTRCB) | Hong Kong:IIA | Argentina:Atp | Peru:PT | Iceland:10 | Germany:12 | South Africa:10V | New Zealand:M | Mexico:B | France:U

The 2005 movie Batman Begins was the first film I noticed to set the recent Hollywood trend of returning to the early days of a much-loved character. Sony Pictures has done the same with James Bond.  Until now, all the movies in the Star Trek canon started off with older versions of the characters we got to Next Generation crew headed up by Captain John-Luc Picard and his First Officer William Riker. Thankfully we were spared big screen versions of the dreadful Deep Space Nine spinoff series.

The latest Star Trek movie is directed by the creator of two top TV shows, Alias and Lost,  J J Abrams.  He has chosen to go back to the beginnings of the original show’s crew; Kirk, Spock, Uhuru, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty.  We learn how James T Kirk came to meet the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock and how the crew we remember came to serve together under the USS Enterprise’s first captain, Christopher Pike.

J J Abrams has excelled his brief.  He has put together a movie that is fast, furious and fun.  This is not just one for the trekkies but one everybody can enjoy. The film opens with a bang even before the opening credits roll. The scene is set when Nero (Eric Bana), a notorious Romulan war criminal, ambushes a Federation starship and murders its captain as he searches for ‘Ambassador Spock’.  George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), the acting captain sacrifices himself to save over 300 crew members including his own wife and newborn son, James Tiberius Kirk.
Young Kirk (Chris Pine) is an angry young man who seems bound to go off the rails as he grows up in rural Iowa. He steals cars as a boy and  grows up to pick fights in bars just for the hell of it. Yet Captain Pike (bruce Greenwood), an old friend of his late father, sees the potential in this angry but bright young man and dares him to enlist in Star Fleet. The rest is history.

At the same time, Spock (Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy) grows up suffering the fate of many of those who dare to be different.  He is bullied by other Vulcan youngsters to try and get an emotional reaction from him.  Even the Vulcan Academy of Science believes that Spock’s excellent grades were a triumph over disability; having a human mother. Because of this, Spock rejects membership of this highly esteemed body and enlists in Starfleet where he first meets Kirk.

Intially Kirk and Spock come into conflict with one-another. Without getting into the details, it’s enough to know the bits and pieces that the writers weave into the script fit into the larger Trek mosaic because they are true to character.  Characterisation is the key to this film, especially the enjoyable banter and interplay between Kirk and Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban).

I’m not sure about the science behind the film. I doubt it would be possible for the young Spock to meet his future self, for example, but who cares?  Don’t think too much about it. Hold on to your seat and enjoy the ride.
Every character in this film is believable. There’s not a tedious moment in the entire 127 minutes.  The casting is superb.  Some of these young actors look uncannily like their predecessors in the role.  I was struck by how much Zachary Quinto looked like the younger Leonard Nimoy and how Karl Urban was a dead spit for the original Dr McCoy, Deforest Kelley. The characterisation sets the film head an shoulders above most of the previous Star Trek films.  This crew deserves a continuing mission to boldly go around the universe.  J J Abrams can do it.

More soon, please.

Reviewed by David Kerr


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