REVIEW: Star Trek

Kate Erbland

by: Kate Erbland
May 8th, 2009

Rating: 9/10

The main quandary in creating any sort of franchise re-launch or established series origin story is to somehow simultaneously lure in new followers while not offending the sensibilities of longtime fans. Casting needs to nod firmly to the original.  Plots need to serve the demands of the knowledgeable while still being intelligible to newbies.  And, in the case of something like STAR TREK, where fervent fans build their very own USS Enterprise models in their own homes and wear Vulcan ears unironically, production and costume design has to be meticulous and pointed.

Essentially, projects like this should be stamped with a giant “GOOD LUCK, SUCKER!” to warn off any and all who would dare to take them on. That’s probably why there’s an obvious aim in J.J. Abrams’ STAR TREK to acclimate its fan-filled audience. But it’s an aim that somehow manages to be not cloying or self-important. The tried-and-true fans are the ones who can make or break a film in this delicate situation, so it’s almost too easy to throw them a couple of (iconic) bones and pray they like it. Making sure the most famous catchphrases receive screen time can end up cheesy and trite at best, disastrous and embarrassing at worst.  Abrams seems totally cognizant of this fact and handles it with aplomb; even these baited bits are given cleverly: Leonard “Bones” McCoy has one, perfectly-timed, “Dammit, man, I’m a doctor…!” and Spock’s traditional Vulcan salute and “live long and prosper” gets flipped on its head when delivered by original Spock, Leonard Nimoy (who shows up in a number of key scenes and serves a true purpose; a silly cameo this is not).

Every important and classic member of the Enterprise crew that I could personally name (which is, admittedly, not more than six), shows up in STAR TREK. Yet, instead of throwing all these characters at the audience all at once, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pace appearances, making every new introduction an event. The giddy cheers from the audience that accompanied the first screen appearances of such characters as McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty only prove that this tactic worked, and worked wonderfully. Even a STAR TREK newbie like me felt a buzz when Scotty completed his first transport on the Enterprise; that’s how fun all this is.

There’s an emotional resonance to STAR TREK that even the previously uninitiated will notice and appreciate. Even movie-goers who don’t care to understand the sci-fi storytelling and would rather not spend time pondering the implications of black holes and time traveling will still identify with some pretty damn classic themes -– the discovery of self, the loss of home, living up to parents’ expectations. And for those who care even less about emotional resonance than they do about parallel dimensions, there’s plenty of eye-popping action, jittery laughs, a tattooed nemesis, and a half-naked Starfleet member or two.

STAR TREK succeeds because it walks the tightrope between giving the devotees what they want and entertaining the popcorn-munching masses. It’s funny, it’s chockfull of inventive action sequences, it’s populated by memorable and interesting characters. This thing’s got legs, and I can’t wait to see what part of the final frontier it runs to next.

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  • Chase Whale

    Best GATW review to date!

  • Kate Erbland

    I do what I can. :)

  • MIKE

    Is Kate yalls new writer? I’ve never seen her before. She’s funny!! Glad y’all finally have a female voice on the site.

    Good job Kate!

  • Kirk

    Awesome movie. Great review. You’re dead-on. This is a film that everyone, Trekkie and non-Trekkie, should love equally as much.

  • yeahdef

    listen yall Star Trek is the best movie ive seen in a while. go see it.

  • reesas

    This is one of the best reviews of Star Trek that I’ve read so far. It’s exactly what I thought about but didn’t know how to put it into words.

    And I can’t wait for more from this franchise or from this reviewer!

  • Chase Whale

    Kirk? Did they let you off the Enterprise to leave a comment???

  • Michael

    And here I was planning on skipping this one. I guess I’ll have to add another film to the list. Damn you, Kate Erbland!

  • Critique This Film

    Awesome review as well as a GREAT movie. I believed it was everything one could have hoped for. I was totally not disappointed! check out my video review if you like, thanks!

  • allisonloring

    As a total Star Trek novice, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. And not just because two of the leads are easy on the eyes. Although that did help… ;)

    Great review!!

  • Kate Erbland

    I’m just excited that the boys had enough faith in me to do the STAR TREK review as my first one for the site, and I’m even MORE excited that ya’ll seem to like it!

  • Bob Manzano

    Great review and looking forward to seeing this movie!!

  • tiny

    Still waiting to see the film, but I’m even more amped now. Great review :)

  • Nomad

    Everything about this new Star Trek was perfect as far as i’m concerned, except at the theater the reel kept jumping and the sound went out a couple of times… why are movie theaters still using film i wonder?

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