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dir JJ Abrams
scr Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoë Saldana, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Bruce Greenwood, Tyler Perry, Winona Ryder
release UK 7.May.09, US 8.May.09
09/US Paramount 2h06
Boldly going: Yelchin, Pine, Pegg, Urban, Cho and Saldana
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
JJ Abrams accomplishes something remarkable with this film: fully inhabiting the Trek universe while pushing well-known characters into all-new directions. The result is an outrageously entertaining action blockbuster.
Son of a hero captain, James Kirk (Pine) has never done much beyond getting into bar brawls. But Captain Pike (Greenwood) spots his potential and offers him a spot at Starfleet Academy alongside recruits Uhura (Saldana) and McCoy (Urban). As Kirk clashes with young teacher Spock (Quinto), they're sent on an urgent mission to stop a fierce Romulan (Bana). On board the spanking-new Starship Enterprise they meet Sulu (Cho) and Chekov (Yelchin), and after things get really nasty, Kirk encounters both engineer Scotty (Pegg) and a very old Spock (Nimoy), back from the future with crucial information.
Frankly, the plot is a stroke of genius, bringing in a time-travel premise that adds textures to the story and builds extremely strong suspense. It also playfully allows the filmmakers to cycle back before the original series, cleverly casting the original icons as freshly written characters who are both recognisable and surprising. It helps that the script is extremely witty, giving everyone huge doses of personality and moments of depth.
There isn't a weak link in the ensemble, but it's Urban who steals the show as the grumpy doctor who gets all the best lines. While Quinto shines in the best-written role. The beloved catch-phrases are cleverly dropped into the dialog, along with constant visual Trek references. But none of this gets in the way of this story, which has memorable moments all its own. Viewers unfamiliar to this universe will fall for these characters in a new way.
This is one of those rare films that's actually thrilling to watch. Big and exciting, it's shot with a whirling slickness that makes it often feel like it's in 3D, circling around us and pulling us right into the action. It's also grounded completely on the people, not the effects, action or science, with a powerfully humane central mystery that draws us in even further. It may be a bit too flashy, but it's also funny, emotional and so endearing that we simply don't want to wait for the next episode.
IMAX NOTE: I saw the film again on the Imax screen a couple of weeks later, and it was seriously impressive. The razor sharp sound is utterly engulfing, and the images are almost outrageously crisp and detailed (you can see the actors' pores!). Interestingly, the film itself isn't as exciting the second time round; there's nothing in there that you don't see on first viewing - but it's still a great ride.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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