Star Trek (2009)
There are some film projects that are so entrenched in the popular culture that a director has to be either crazy or genius to take it on. We live in an age of remakes or more commonly what is referred to as re-imaginings. More times than not the results are dismay such as the shot for shot remake of Hitchcock’s classic thriller ‘Psycho’ by Gus Van Sant which was universally condemned uninspired and completely unnecessary. It appears that of all the genres science fiction has been especially targeted for this cinematic recycling. The thing about Sci-Fi movies is the fan base contains some of the most devoted and intense people imaginable. Just attend one of the thousands of conventions and you will witness crowds of fans in perfected detailed costumes endlessly debating the tiniest details of their favorite shows and movies. Even in this extreme group the followers of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise are among the passionate. When it was announced that a new film featuring the original characters was in pre production the controversy began immediately. The series is so well love that it is now a major part of a new type of mythology known by heart by millions of fans. There would be no middle ground; either the film would successfully reboot the franchise or it would be completely panned. Many directors and writers were considered but when the smoke cleared the arduous task went to J.J. Abrams. He managed to do the near impossible; breathe new life into a franchise that started as a little TV series forty years ago. Like many fans I admit to more than a little trepidation when I started to watch the film but after only a few minutes I found myself enjoying ‘Star Trek’ with the same fresh sense of wonderment I did four decades ago. I simply have not been this impressed with an installment in a long time but this movie did it.
Native New Yorker J.J. Abrams was most likely just learning to walk when the original ‘Star Trek’ was airing. Currently he is one of the most sought after creative minds in both television and films. It seems that he has the golden touch in both venues thanks to his innate talent for telling a story combined with a unique visual style that always pushes the limits for the audience. He first came to the attention of much of the world with his guilty pleasure TV series, ‘Felicity’ followed quickly by the espionage thriller ‘Alias’. He didn’t take much time to rest on his laurels coming up with the enigmatic ‘Lost’ and more recently the highly stylistic paranormal series, ‘Fringe’. As if that wasn’t enough he took the classic monster movie off in a novel direction with ‘Cloverfield’. If the rabid Trekkers were going to trust their beloved characters in the hands of anyone it would be Abrams. Still, one of the biggest obstacles he would have to face was continuity; the fans can cite chapter and verse of anything that occurred in the franchise. He managed to go between the horns of the bull by mostly adhering to the established canon with variations accommodated by time travel and the potential for an alternate time line. Only a man as accepted by the Sci-Fi community as Abrahams would have a chance to pull off a move like this and he does so with flair.
Typical of a project helmed by Abrams paces this at warp speed
hitting the floor running and never letting up. Not only does this movie reboot
the timeline of the franchise it transports the genre from straight science
fiction to some more along the lines of a great action movie. getting this film
on the move is an introduction to a young Starfleet office George Kirk (Chris
Hemsworth is assigned to the Federation starship USS Kelvin when it is attacked
by a Romulan mining ship captained by Nero (Eric Bana). Kirk is left in charge
of the doomed craft sacrificing it and allowing the crew to escape. One of the
escapees was his wife Winona (Jennifer Morrison). Just before his death she
gives birth to a son, James T. Kirk. In the original series there was an episode
where Mr. Spock’s mother makes reference to the bullying her son had to endure
due to his bi-cultural heritage. Here we get a glance at the boyhood life of one
of the most iconic characters in science fiction. The plot is well constructed
bringing together youthful versions of our long time favorite characters. this
movie sports two adult Spocks; Zachary Quinto, the villain from the TV hit
‘Heroes’ as the young man and, giving an official blessing,
One of the primary reasons why this film works so well is no one in the cast tried to do an imitation of their characters. Sure they remained true to the well established personalities but the actors involved were respected for their talent and afforded the opportunity to provide their own unique interpretations. For example Hemsworth plays Kirk as a brash young man, an excitement junkie who needed a father figure like Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to help direct him to his destiny as a starship captain. Noted English comedic actor Simon Pegg uses a similar approach as future chief engineer Montgomery Scott. You can sense that this young man would one day become the most lauded engineer in Star fleet with a perfect touch of sense of humor.
The Blu-ray is absolutely reference quality. Use this film to show off your system and your friends will be in awe. The video is amazingly crisp and clear with a level of detail you have dreamt of having. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1lossless audio gave all eight of speakers a workout unlike anything I have heard before. There is a feeling of being there that takes you from watching the film to experiencing it. The vision that Gene Roddenberry had so long ago has been given a new life and is well equipped to move forward into the future.