The New Star Trek Movie Blows Fans Away [Star Trek Review]


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By Jimmy Rogers (@me)
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

startrek_2009movieYesterday, J.J. Abrams released his new movie, Star Trek, which attempts to breathe new life into one of scifi’s oldest franchises.  It is different from other Star Trek films because it’s set before even the earliest episodes in the original series.  I can’t say too much more without delivering massive spoilers (it’s just one of those kinds of plots), so there is a spoiler section below with my analysis.

The unspoilery version is this:

  • If you ARE a hardcore Star Trek fan, you will like this movie a LOT, even if it doesn’t run perfectly in harmony with some of the central Star Trek dogma.  I think I fall into this category…largely because I’ve seen every episode of every series (except that awful mess with Scott Bakula).
  • If you don’t have a clue about Star Trek, I think you’ll still find the minute-by-minute story very exciting and the characters very compelling.

[Spoiler Alert!!! - If you haven't seen the movie, avert your eyes till you have.]

Looking back on Star Trek, I definitely think the most memorable part of the movie are the effects.  Despite the rather surreal nature of a Star Trek fantasy, the visual effects require almost no suspension of disbelief on my part.  The ships are logical and believable, the images of space are absolutely spectacular, and even the ship’s interior is a good show.

There are a considerable number of “lens flares,” though.  Essentially the audience is blinded every so often by some massive shine or explosion.  io9 reported earlier that even Abrams himself admits he may have been a bit overzealous with the flares.  Even so, if you read the interview, you’ll see they’re there for good reason.

The part of the movie that I love the most is the casting.  Each actor does a fantastic job portraying the old characters while not coming off as a caricature or an impression.  While the press has already covered the Spock and Uhura characters fairly thoroughly, I was pleasantly surprised by Bones, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu.  These supporting characters served as comic relief mostly, but each of them got their own little vignette (especially Sulu with his awesome sword) to show they could handle some business too.

Kirk and Spock, the obvious foci of the movie, were a bit harder for me to swallow.  Their relationship is so fundamental to the original characters that it was very odd at times.  I think  Zachary Quinto did a great job as a conflicted young Spock, but the Kirk character didn’t convince me.  Because of the obvious timeline alterations from the original series, this Kirk is a different man and his strategic genius is hard to see amidst his boyish arrogance.  By the end of the movie I wasn’t completely won over by “the new Kirk.”

When you talk about the plot, the only thing you can say is “fast-paced.”  I mean the first scene of the movie is an explosive act of heroism wherein George Kirk (Jim’s father) gives his life to save his crew, his wife, and his unborn son.  After that we move forward in time and see a young Kirk driving a stolen convertible over a cliff.  The action doesn’t let up until Kirk joins up with Star Fleet, to the surprise (but satisfaction) of Captain Pike.

While the rest of the movie involves adventures designed to slowly bring together the familiar gang of heroes, the real thing to discuss is the crazy timeline splintering.  With many sequels (or in this case, prequels), time travel is used to allow movie-makers to milk more out of a played out story.  I’m interested to see what Abrams and company plan on doing with their newly created timeline.  Will the next episode in the series (there are rumored to be 3 more films coming) be centered around relocating the Vulcans, or are they going to avoid discussing the newly-formed black hole whenever possible?

[End Spoiler Warning]

All other things aside, by the end of the movie, I felt resolution and hope.  The resolution came from the great ending and the satisfying new direction for the franchise.  The hope was more of a continued hope that I feel when I watch the old series.  The Star Trek universe is a vast playground for the imagination and it would be a shame if we let it go to waste, just because its creators are aging or have passed away.  This movie definitely lives up to their legacy as a definitive space opera.

On a personal note, I had the AWESOME opportunity to watch the movie premier with the staff over at ThinkGeek.com.  More on that little adventure over at my new blog.

If you’ve seen the film, what did you think?  Agree/disagree with the thought above?





34 Responses to The New Star Trek Movie Blows Fans Away [Star Trek Review]

  1. It's a great start to a new journey. I like that fact that it continues the "hope" that was central to the original Trek, and I hope it gives way to a new sci-fi that looks at the future in a less bleak way. Stories like Pyramids of Mars (www.pyramidsofmars.com) the free online digital graphic novel come to mind. Sure, it's a big scale sci-fi story about an alien invasion with great graphics, but it's also hopeful about the future and humanity. And that's what we need. That's what Gene Roddenberry was talking about.

    • I totally agree…SciFi has gotten much darker in recent years as a way of exploring new areas…but the lighter sides shouldn't be lost along the way.

  2. The black hole doesn't really matter, because it'll only have the same mass and gravity field size as the planet it consumed, so it won't really do anything unusual except not radiate nearly as much. A black hole the same mass as the planet won't eat the sun or anything else really.

    • Maybe I was being too subtle, but by "ignore the new black hole" I meant "ignore the massive potential change that destroying an important planet could lead to."

      I didn't actually mean to say anything relating to the physical characteristics of a black hole.

  3. The black hole doesn’t really matter, because it’ll only have the same mass and gravity field size as the planet it consumed, so it won’t really do anything unusual except not radiate nearly as much. A black hole the same mass as the planet won’t eat the sun or anything else really.

    • Maybe I was being too subtle, but by “ignore the new black hole” I meant “ignore the massive potential change that destroying an important planet could lead to.”

      I didn’t actually mean to say anything relating to the physical characteristics of a black hole.

  4. It's a great start to a new journey. I like that fact that it continues the "hope" that was central to the original Trek, and I hope it gives way to a new sci-fi that looks at the future in a less bleak way. Stories like Pyramids of Mars (www.pyramidsofmars.com) the free online digital graphic novel come to mind. Sure, it's a big scale sci-fi story about an alien invasion with great graphics, but it's also hopeful about the future and humanity. And that's what we need. That's what Gene Roddenberry was talking about.

    • I totally agree…SciFi has gotten much darker in recent years as a way of exploring new areas…but the lighter sides shouldn’t be lost along the way.

  5. I agree with most of what was written except for the comments about Chris Pine's Jim Kirk. The "new" Kirk and Pine's portrayal of him were great AND believable. I cannot fathom what more it would take for Jimmy Rogers to be "won over" by the new James T. Kirk.

    • It's really nice to hear criticism on a comment that isn't also vulgar.

      I guess for me, the new Kirk didn't feel very much like the old one. This might be because in the first series, Kirk didn't really have to "win the trust" of his crew…they came pre-packaged as his dutiful officers from day one. This would all be ok, since the new movie is heavily based on the idea that Kirk must fight his way into his iconic role based on manipulation of the past…except the "final Kirk" at the end didn't quite sit well with me either.

      For me, after watching Jim Kirk command for years, I've become acclimated to a certain "flavor," like the flavor of chocolate ice cream. This new one is more like chocolate-peanut butter ice cream…similar but different. Maybe it's because he doesn't talk like Shatner, I dunno.

      BTW, I forgot to mention in the article that this is one of the few movies I came out of and immediately wanted to watch again. That's truely rare for me.

      • I somewhat agree with your assessment of Kirk. However, I liked it because of this. Kirk has had the most obvious changes to his personality because of timeline changes. So it makes sense.

        But also, because there are more movies, hopefully someday maybe they'll get this cast into a TV show (one can only dream..) the Kirk we're looking for just hasn't been made yet. He has some growing up to do, some experience to gain. The Kirk of TOS, Khan, and ST VI are all different in certain ways, as should the Kirk fresh out of Academy. The best clues we've been given as-to what he was like in the academy was the kobiashi maru — the Kirk we know later isn't as much of a prankster as the one who reprograms the test, as an example.

        I also do not usually want to rewatch a movie so quickly after seeing it in theatres, as I did this one.

  6. I agree with most of what was written except for the comments about Chris Pine’s Jim Kirk. The “new” Kirk and Pine’s portrayal of him were great AND believable. I cannot fathom what more it would take for Jimmy Rogers to be “won over” by the new James T. Kirk.

    • It’s really nice to hear criticism on a comment that isn’t also vulgar.

      I guess for me, the new Kirk didn’t feel very much like the old one. This might be because in the first series, Kirk didn’t really have to “win the trust” of his crew…they came pre-packaged as his dutiful officers from day one. This would all be ok, since the new movie is heavily based on the idea that Kirk must fight his way into his iconic role based on manipulation of the past…except the “final Kirk” at the end didn’t quite sit well with me either.

      For me, after watching Jim Kirk command for years, I’ve become acclimated to a certain “flavor,” like the flavor of chocolate ice cream. This new one is more like chocolate-peanut butter ice cream…similar but different. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t talk like Shatner, I dunno.

      BTW, I forgot to mention in the article that this is one of the few movies I came out of and immediately wanted to watch again. That’s truely rare for me.

      • I somewhat agree with your assessment of Kirk. However, I liked it because of this. Kirk has had the most obvious changes to his personality because of timeline changes. So it makes sense.
        But also, because there are more movies, hopefully someday maybe they’ll get this cast into a TV show (one can only dream..) the Kirk we’re looking for just hasn’t been made yet. He has some growing up to do, some experience to gain. The Kirk of TOS, Khan, and ST VI are all different in certain ways, as should the Kirk fresh out of Academy. The best clues we’ve been given as-to what he was like in the academy was the kobiashi maru — the Kirk we know later isn’t as much of a prankster as the one who reprograms the test, as an example.

        I also do not usually want to rewatch a movie so quickly after seeing it in theatres, as I did this one.

  7. I agree with much of what was said as well, but am also one of the folks won over by the new Kirk.

    He certainly seems more troubled than the the original Kirk (toK), but the essence of what toK was seemed in tact. The cowboy spirit, the almost comedic overconfidence and general intensity in his resolve was all there, but all just a bit more pointed which I attributed to age more than time line changes.

    I found my mind occasionally projecting an image of this new Kirk 5 years in the future with more missions under his belt and found him to be reasonably consistent with the Kirk we all know and love.

    The whole crew seemed a fair bit younger to me, complete with the impetuous nature of youth and all it's associated chaos. :)

    I think I'll have to see it again to be sure…but I may need to increase my movie budget for the year after seeing the orgy of CGI eye candy that came in the form of the trailers…wow…it's a good year for geeks and movies.

  8. I agree with much of what was said as well, but am also one of the folks won over by the new Kirk.

    He certainly seems more troubled than the the original Kirk (toK), but the essence of what toK was seemed in tact. The cowboy spirit, the almost comedic overconfidence and general intensity in his resolve was all there, but all just a bit more pointed which I attributed to age more than time line changes.

    I found my mind occasionally projecting an image of this new Kirk 5 years in the future with more missions under his belt and found him to be reasonably consistent with the Kirk we all know and love.

    The whole crew seemed a fair bit younger to me, complete with the impetuous nature of youth and all it’s associated chaos. :)

    I think I’ll have to see it again to be sure…but I may need to increase my movie budget for the year after seeing the orgy of CGI eye candy that came in the form of the trailers…wow…it’s a good year for geeks and movies.

  9. I'm pretty happy with the way the "new" rebooted series was fired off. I think. ;-) Only time will tell if this will begin a new series of movies with this crew, I certainly hope so, I think they have much staying power.

    As to the portrayals of the two main characters, I think they did the right thing.

    ************POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT*************

    If Pine tried and failed to pull off an imitation of one of the most iconic actors in sci-fi film history, I think he would have quickly found failure and IMMENSE disapproval from viewers who would have thought the mismatch between their memories and the new movie had "ruined everything". I appreciate the new Kirk being a tad different and it is justified by his alternate history.

    I'm unsure as to Quinto's "Spock". While Kirk's alternate reality justifies his change in behavior, it doesn't do anything for Spock. He was never portrayed as this emotional in any of the series.. sappy yes, but not angst ridden.

    Then again, how much younger is this duo from when we first saw them battling VGER. (egad, I'm a geek) maybe they have some maturing to do. That is not beyond the grasp of human development.

    Finally, I must say that the supporting cast did an amazing job. I sort of felt like Bones was imitated quite rigorously, just so that we were reminded of who we were watching. Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura were fantastic if a little comical at times.

    I have friends that have already seen this 3 times or more by this writing. I don't know that I will watch this in the theater again but I can offer monetary guarantees that this will enter my DVD collection.

    ;-) Thanks for letting me vent and calm myself after watching this movie. LOL It really was a good flick!

  10. I’m pretty happy with the way the “new” rebooted series was fired off. I think. ;-) Only time will tell if this will begin a new series of movies with this crew, I certainly hope so, I think they have much staying power.
    As to the portrayals of the two main characters, I think they did the right thing.

    ************POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT*************

    If Pine tried and failed to pull off an imitation of one of the most iconic actors in sci-fi film history, I think he would have quickly found failure and IMMENSE disapproval from viewers who would have thought the mismatch between their memories and the new movie had “ruined everything”. I appreciate the new Kirk being a tad different and it is justified by his alternate history.
    I’m unsure as to Quinto’s “Spock”. While Kirk’s alternate reality justifies his change in behavior, it doesn’t do anything for Spock. He was never portrayed as this emotional in any of the series.. sappy yes, but not angst ridden.
    Then again, how much younger is this duo from when we first saw them battling VGER. (egad, I’m a geek) maybe they have some maturing to do. That is not beyond the grasp of human development.

    Finally, I must say that the supporting cast did an amazing job. I sort of felt like Bones was imitated quite rigorously, just so that we were reminded of who we were watching. Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura were fantastic if a little comical at times.

    I have friends that have already seen this 3 times or more by this writing. I don’t know that I will watch this in the theater again but I can offer monetary guarantees that this will enter my DVD collection.

    ;-) Thanks for letting me vent and calm myself after watching this movie. LOL It really was a good flick!

  11. Well I liked it but I'm getting tired to all the time line saving the show stuff, a lot of Star trek shows centered around time travel the last 20 years and even BSG did a little of that.

    Good Movie, Alternate universe and leaves the writers plenty to write about now, Vulcan is gone but Vulcans are still around, remember they have many colonies.

    The movie made you think this was not so, yet the original series we know this to be true.

  12. Well I liked it but I’m getting tired to all the time line saving the show stuff, a lot of Star trek shows centered around time travel the last 20 years and even BSG did a little of that.

    Good Movie, Alternate universe and leaves the writers plenty to write about now, Vulcan is gone but Vulcans are still around, remember they have many colonies.

    The movie made you think this was not so, yet the original series we know this to be true.

  13. The popularity of this movie with geeks shows what most geeks are – pathetic people with child-like minds.

    ST'09 is a "comic book" movie consisting of predictable, boring action sequences stitched together by a plot that doesn't make any sense.

  14. The popularity of this movie with geeks shows what most geeks are – pathetic people with child-like minds.

    ST’09 is a “comic book” movie consisting of predictable, boring action sequences stitched together by a plot that doesn’t make any sense.

  15. Star Trek XI was a POS.

    What do you get when you put a Star Wars fan in charge of making a Star Trek movie? A Star Wars movie called "Star Trek."

    Abrahams succeeded in DUMBING DOWN Star Trek to the level of Star Wars and thus appealing to the "Homer Simpson mentality" majority.

    His movie will not stand the test of time like the REAL Star Trek has. It is already forgotten by the Homers.

    Absolute POS.

  16. Star Trek XI was a POS.
    What do you get when you put a Star Wars fan in charge of making a Star Trek movie? A Star Wars movie called “Star Trek.”

    Abrahams succeeded in DUMBING DOWN Star Trek to the level of Star Wars and thus appealing to the “Homer Simpson mentality” majority.

    His movie will not stand the test of time like the REAL Star Trek has. It is already forgotten by the Homers.

    Absolute POS.

  17. umm whats wrong with most of you.. the new film sucked bigdonkeyballs, it was in no way a decent homage to star trek as there was very little star trek in it.

    the plot of the movie didnt even make sense, and for those who think it does, enjoy living in your bubbles :)

    shit film, for 2dimensional shitty people, IF YOU LIKE THIS MOVE, YOU PROBOBLY LIKE STARGET ATLANTIS, nuff said :/

  18. umm whats wrong with most of you.. the new film sucked bigdonkeyballs, it was in no way a decent homage to star trek as there was very little star trek in it.

    the plot of the movie didnt even make sense, and for those who think it does, enjoy living in your bubbles :)

    shit film, for 2dimensional shitty people, IF YOU LIKE THIS MOVE, YOU PROBOBLY LIKE STARGET ATLANTIS, nuff said :/

  19. Why the fans are so desesperate for new histories about his (pardon my bad english) series or movies, that acept every bad sequence? I LOVE Babylon 5, the (on my opinion) best serie ever made (until now, obvious), but reject any tentative of continue that history, for example, I don't acept Excalibur. And I don't like the last season, and I think the last episode it's a little lost.

  20. Why the fans are so desesperate for new histories about his (pardon my bad english) series or movies, that acept every bad sequence? I LOVE Babylon 5, the (on my opinion) best serie ever made (until now, obvious), but reject any tentative of continue that history, for example, I don’t acept Excalibur. And I don’t like the last season, and I think the last episode it’s a little lost.