Boldly back to the beginning

2009-05-10 00:00

FILM: Star Trek


I THINK I should reveal from the outset that I am a Trekkie — not the Spock ear-wearing convention kind, but still a big fan of Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi franchise. So I took my seat at CineCentre to watch the latest instalment of the series with a sense of great excitement and I wasn’t disappointed.

In this new film, simply called Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Lost) has managed to pay homage to the original sixties television series, which first introduced us to Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise, but still take the franchise to a new and exciting place.

There are plenty of special effects to keep the geekiest sci-fi fan happy, but more importantly there is a great story, penned by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (scriptwriters for Transformers, Mission: Impossible III and the television series Fringe), which explores the young lives of Kirk and the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock.

The film opens with Kirk being born on the shuttle of a Federation starship — captained by his father — which is under attack by an unknown vessel.

The action then moves between Earth and Vulcan to show how Kirk (Chris Pine), a wild young man with a penchant for fist fights, gets convinced by the Enterprise’s Captain Pike to use his talents for good at the Starfleet Academy; and how Spock (Zachary Quinto) overcomes the “handicap” of having a human mother to succeed in the logical Vulcan world. But instead of taking up a post with the Vulcan Science Academy, as expected, he heads to Earth to join Starfleet.

It’s the meeting of these two very different men and how they eventually become friends that lie at the heart of the new film.

Along the way they have to tackle a villainous Romulan who is bent on the destruction of both Earth and Vulcan. Playing the very twisted baddie Nero is an almost unrecognisable Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk), who seems to have spent a lot of time in New Zealand to get Maori tattoos for the part.

Helping Kirk and Spock to defeat the Romulans are the faithful crew of The Enterprise — medical officer and doom merchant, Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), the sexy communications officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), talented helmsman Sulu (John Cho), 17-year-old Russian prodigy Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and the inimitable Enterprise engineer, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg).

There’s also an appearance by Leonard Nimoy, who first breathed life into the character of Spock, and a cameo by Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother.

It can’t have been easy for the actors to step into the shoes of Trek legends like William Shatner (the original Kirk) and Nimoy, but they do it brilliantly.

Pine makes his Kirk a brooding, James Dean-style character, with a love of fast cars and the ladies, and a cavalier, “let’s see what happens”, mentality that tends to land him in hot water.

Quinto is superb as the logical young half-Vulcan battling to keep his human emotions in control, and Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) is an absolute scene stealer as Scotty.

The scriptwriters have also kept in some of the famous Trek phrases like Scotty’s: “I’m givin’ her everything she’s got” and “Beam me up”, which will have long-time fans grinning.

Star Trek is a fun film and even if you’re not a dedicated Trekkie you’ll love it. It’s jam-packed full of action, has top-class special effects and there’s a great story. What more can you ask for in a blockbuster?


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