Star Trek Review: Set Reactions to Stunned
Don’t be fooled: geeks and Trekkies are two distinctly different beasts. While geeks are undeniably passionate, forthright and occasionally stubborn in their pop-culture adulation, Trekkies take niche worship to a new level.
Case in point: Geeks read books about Aliens.
Trekkies, however, will go so far as to construct a fabricated Alien language, translate aeons old English literary classics into said language, forsake human contact in favour of playing bumpy head dress-up to webcammed pay-per-view audiences, and inevitably change their names by deed poll to sound like a homeless Barry White burping up vomit.
So with that in mind, J.J. Abrams faced a planet-sized challenge in crafting a movie that would appease generations of hardcore fans desperate to Kling-on to the rotting carcass of a once great sci-fi series whilst still managing to shed the intense stigma of its past.
Set reactions to stunned, because he’s only gone and done it.
Opening with a balls to the wall, chaotically beautiful action sequence that sees a Starfleet ship blown to bits and the rather prophetic birth of one James T. Kirk, it’s clear we’re viewing not only the genesis of the team but a dedicated rebirth for the franchise.
Back on Earth, Kirk (a disarmingly charming and cocky Chris Pine) grows up with all the ego and talent we’ve come to expect, but none of the direction. Until a bar fight steers him into enrollment at the Starfleet Academy and an inevitable collision course with Vulcan/Human hybrid Spock (Zachary Quinto a worthy, if not superior successor to Leonard Nimoy’s iconic portrayal) and Romulan Nero’s (a serviceable Eric Bana) own seek’n'destroy vendetta against the Academy.
By grounding its heart in Kirk and Spock, its best-loved but radically opposed characters, the audience is privy to two deeply personal journeys that eventually rise, collide and fall with genuine emotion. The action, explosions and space-fights never let up, but it’s the storytelling that’ll leave you breathless.
While Quinto and Pine flesh out their roles with surprising depth (Quinto in particular able to convey more in one raise of his aerodynamic eyebrow, ear or sideburn than a whole collection of Shatner audiotapes), the crew would be nothing without the supporting cast. Thankfully, you can’t get any better than the one here, and from Simon Pegg’s eminently huggable Scotty to Zoe Saldana’s sexy yet maternal Uhura, each is given a chance to shine.
Visually, it’s a surprisingly poetic masterpiece. Battle scenes possess a delicate beauty and grace that soars amidst the flashy explosiveness of the numerous phaser blasts and photon torpedoes. Abrams vision of space taps into the bedazzling and mysterious allure it deserves, and with solar flares, futuristic design and a grand operatic score, this is the most eye-wateringly stunning sci-fi film since Sunshine.
It’s no surprise, considering his CV, that Abrams seems to have had no trouble tackling the Cloverfield monster-sized Elephant in the room. Except rather than bypass the series’ intense continuity he’s crafted a spectacular reinvention that, despite a few continuity issues and character deviations here and there, is inextricably linked to the franchise’s past yet positively throbbing with renewed energy, vibrancy and youth.
On this viewing, there’s no chance the franchise will do anything but Live Long and Prosper.
So, what did you think? Trekkie, geek or none of the above? Whatever, if you’re anything like us, you’ve had the odd bewildering alien crush – E.T, Alf, you know. The usual. Check out our list of the the Top 10 Confusing Sci-Fi Crushes for a run-down of all those sexy oddities from Sci-Fi past. Heard the news that Abrams is tackling Mission: Impossible 4 yet? If Trek floats your boat, take a gander at one of the summer’s other big sci-fi blockbusters, Terminator: Salvation, which doesn’t fare too well….