Alex’s “Star Trek” Movie Countdown- Day Eleven

1. Star Trek (2009)

This is NOT your father's "Star Trek."

At long last I reach the end of my countdown, with luckiest-man-in-the-film- industry J.J. Abrams’ reinterpretation of the classic Star Trek cast. Yes, the gang’s all here, albeit younger and hotter (with the exception of Kirk. I think Shatner’s way handsomer than Chris Pine). This movie deserves lots of credit for lots of different things- but number one on my list (after of course being faithful to the source material while still making it feel new and fresh) is the casting. The casting is impeccable. Not only do most of the actors look like their 1966 counterparts, but they act like them. I was most worried about Pine, mostly because I didn’t like his face. He was too pretty, I didn’t know who he was, I didn’t trust him. But seeing his face in motion I realize he’s not actually all that pretty, but even if he was it wouldn’t matter, because he’s a great actor. He had the hardest job, because Shatner’s Kirk is so iconic and how do you top it? But instead of impersonating him, Pine embodies the spirit of the character while making it his own. Watching him you’re completely convinced that this is Kirk.

Karl Urban’s McCoy, however, is exactly like DeForest Kelley. He even emulates his voice! But it works, because I don’t want to see a new version of McCoy, I want the same grouch I’ve grown to love, and Urban does just that. Hearing classic catch-phrase “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!!” and “My god, man…” warmed my heart.

I could go on and on about the actors and how perfect they all were, but this Facebook note would go on forever. Suffice it to say they’re all great, although as in the original show, Sulu is a pretty slim character. In this movie he’s pretty much defined by being an awesome pilot, and a swordfighter. But John Cho does a good job of channeling his Harold Lee loveability and making you connect with the character. Uhura is probably the character with the most changes- she’s way more bossy and sexy than she used to be and SPOILER SHE’S SPOCK’S LOVER!!!!! WTF?!!!!

But a change like that- something that could so easily anger Trekkies to the point of revolution- works. Everything in this movie works, and I like that the whole plot is basically a big conceit to appease fans- Nero has created a new timeline, Back to the Future style, so any and all changes to the Trek mythos are legit. But none feel out of place. It’s just different… As all the ads keep telling me- this is not your father’s Star Trek. But trust me, your father will still like it.

If your a fan of Star Trek, even a casual one like me, you’ll love this movie. Not only does it reinvigorate the franchise, but it’s chock-full of little homages to previous Trek episodes and films. There’s the famous lines: “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!!” There’s the original music at the credit sequence. Kirk boinks a green-skinned Orion chick. There’s multiple Wrath of Khan references- the mind-controlling ear bugs, which this time go through the mouth, and a defiant scream of “Spock!! SPOOOCCCKKK!!!!!” from Nero. The best through, is the Kobayashi Maru scene, quite possibly one of the best scenes in the whole film. That scene- that was when I knew Pine was Kirk. Watching him nonchalantly cheat his way out of Spock’s “No-win Scenario” test was a fanboy dream, and really, really hit the mark.

Is it a perfect movie? No, but almost. Is it better than Khan? Definitely not. For one thing, Nero is just not a great villain. Bana does a good job, but he’s just not charismatic enough. The time travel plot- a little silly, but necessary. Leonard Nimoy’s cameo? Cool, especially when old Spock meets young Spock, but felt a little forced. But the film is certainly the 2nd best Trek film, and one of the best summer blockbusters to be released this decade. Fuck Wolverine, Terminator and Transformers. Those are all going to blow. But not Trek. This movie gives you everything you want, and then some.

I am very excited now by the prospect of sequels. I think a sequel could be better than this installment. This is an origin story, and an explanation for why the filmmakers are going against Trek canon. The characters are getting to know each other, so we don’t get that great Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic from previous films. A sequel could really get into the characters’ heads, flesh them out. The human adventure is just beginning, as they say.

Score: 9.7

So, now that I’ve watched them all, it’s time to order them, best-to worst. Going by the scores I’ve given, here’s my list;

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek
  3. Star Trek: First Contact
  4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  5. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  6. Star Trek: Generations
  7. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  8. Star Trek: Nemesis
  9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  10. Star Trek: Insurrection
  11. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

I’m sure you’re all tired of me babbling on about Star Trek, but I felt I should take this opportunity to recommend:

Star Trek: Countdown

The prequel comic to J.J. Abrams’ prequel film. Sounds confusing, I know, especially as the comic takes place roughly 10 or 15 years after Nemesis and heavily features the TNG cast. It’s a great comic, and I’m really glad I read it before seeing the movie, because it does help fill in some of the gaps and makes Nero a more fleshed-out character. It’s also a far better TNG story than either Nemesis or Insurrection, and shows us what happened to Picard, Worf, Jeordie and Data’s B4 prototype after the final TNG film.

That’s it for my Trekaganza. When the inevitable sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek is released, I’ll be certain to continue my countdown. I also have the first season of TOS on my instant Netflix cue, and have considered watching a couple episodes- mainly the first episode, the one where Spock goes through Pon-Farr, and the introduction of Khan, all of which I may review. For now though, I highly recommend you go see the new movie. It really is great.

One last thing: in hindsight, I agree with everyone that Kirk’s death in Generations is pretty lame. At least, the manner in which he goes out- reaching for a remote, then getting crushed by a falling bridge. Yeah, not that cool. But I liked his actual death, and the dialogue between him and Picard. I know it doesn’t go with Kirk’s prophecy that he was destined to die alone, but I still found it touching.

Hilhorst out. The bridge is yours.

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2 Responses to “Alex’s “Star Trek” Movie Countdown- Day Eleven”

  1. […] Even though I watched Alias and LOST, I was never a true J.J. fan until this film came out. I always felt like he was getting more credit than he deserved. J.J. tends to pen the pilots for new TV series, then hand them over to his buddies while taking all the credit. For instance, anyone who isn’t a diehard LOST fan would think J.J. is not only the creator but the current showrunner. In reality, all he did was co-write and direct the pilot, as well as a handful of other eps. He’s even stopped running Fringe. And don’t get me started on Mission Impossible III. That film has to be the most critically acclaimed heap of garbage this side of Crash. But the man really flexed his muscles on Trek and did the impossible in the process: he made Star Trek cool. This 2009 outing was great because it was both true to the original series and characters, and fresh, exciting and new. If you want to hear me blabber on about it some more, read my review. […]

  2. […] Read the review here. […]

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