Star Trek (2009) Review – Undoing the classics

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Star Trek
(Star Trek - 2009 - CC. Paramount Pictures)
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“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Spock, Star Trek (2009).

As I’m writing this, I’m sat in my sixth form’s cafe. It’s pretty much empty and I can just about hear the radio playing some new pop bullshit. Why I mentioned this is beyond me, I thought I’d have some interesting anecdote to add to my review, but I really don’t. But that’s also what Star Trek does so I have a bit of leeway in that regard. Now I should point out before I go any further, I do like Star Trek. Although I didn’t like this film I am looking forward to watching the sequels. But let’s focus on what we have here for now, which, if I’m honest, is a bit of a mess.

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) joins the Starfleet Academy and meets Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) as he sets off to the Academy. A mere three years later and Starfleet is called to duty, both Kirk and McCoy board the USS Enterprise. There they meet Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). After their captain is kidnapped by Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan miner and last of his kind, it’s up to the remaining crew to stop him. The film also includes supporting roles from Simon Pegg, Bruce Greenwood, Chris Hemsworth and Leonard Nimoy.

Chris Pine is the main star of this film, and I was expecting a performance better than just okay (Star Trek – 2009 – CC. Paramount Pictures)

Don’t get me wrong, as much as I disliked this film, I did enjoy a few of the performances throughout. Without a doubt my favourite was Simon Pegg, that’ simply because he plays Scotty though. As far as the main cast go, McCoy has always been my favourite Star Trek character, and I don’t think Urban does that good a job. Nor did I really like Yelchin’s performance as Chekov either. I’m going to give them both the benefit of the doubt and hope it improves in the future installments, but my hopes aren’t high.

As for the rest of the cast they’re adequately good. The shift from Leonard Nimoy to Zachary Quinto as Spock is a fairly harmless one. Hell it was actually quite cool to see Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as Spock in this film. Quinto isn’t too bad in his role as Spock, he embodies no emotions whatsoever. To be fair I don’t know if that’s because he’s doing a Spock impression or a Quinto impression. Either way it works fairly well. Spock as a whole is one of the few well rounded characters in the film and the main problem is that too many people are given origin stories.

That’s one of the major problems I have with these sort of films. Because it’s a kick start of a new series it needs to involve people who aren’t too experienced with the series. To be fair that does include me, as much as I enjoy Star Trek as a media, I haven’t the most experience with it. But I didn’t, nor did anyone else, need to see Spock’s origin story and Kirk’s at the same time. It seems crowded but Abrams is assertive in wanting to pull this off. He doesn’t, but at least he’s assertive.

The cinematography in this film really does bother me. It’s not just the constant lens flares either, but they were really bloody annoying. No, it’s other stuff like the shaky camera or the over polished look of the Enterprise. All of this just cumulates into one horrible looking bit of cinema. It’s not even the lens flares that were fully bothering me, it was that over polished look. Everything was a squeaky clean white colour and it was hurting my eyes.

Leonard Nimoy and Simon Pegg give some great supporting performances here (Star Trek – 2009 – CC. Paramount Pictures)

Still at least the CGI looks extremely impressive. It’s on the level of Star Wars and it’s nice to finally see the two on an equal playing ground. Given this rare opportunity to compete with Star Wars on the big screen, Abrams seems to direct the film straight into the ground. Sure, the film opens with some glossy CGI action, but that’s because we don’t see anymore until another half hour after. We have to sit through a court hearing with Spock and Kirk until we get to see any more vague connotations of action.

I’m not sure if I mentioned or not, but the overall acting and dialogue of the film is pretty solid. Sure, I’m fine with admitting that, it’s just the problem for me is that everything else is so poor. A definite focus on both the writing and performances is given throughout, but not enough. None of the performances are given enough room to expand into anything more than slight nods to the original series. But that’s the point, right? We’re supposed to be getting a new look into this modern Star Trek and the way they’ve gone about it is to redo everything.

Verdict

I remember the first time I saw a tiny bit of Star Trek, it was on E4 of all things. The only bit of the film I saw was where Sulu and Kirk were fighting some blokes on a drill. For some reason I thought this looked pretty damn good. Upon reflection though, it really is some new levels of sloppy filmmaking. At least there were some fairly good performances throughout, some of which were definitely better than others. If it weren’t for Simon Pegg’s great supporting role then the main cast would have to really try a lot harder than they do here. Pine and Quinto have some vague chemistry there but nothing is capitalised on just yet. That’s expected for an origin story though.

Overall Star Trek was genuinely just a bit of a mess. There’s something about this film that just didn’t click with me and I’m under the impression that it was Abrams direction. The constant lens flares and honestly just some poor cinematography all round was enough to put me off this film. However, it wasn’t enough to put me off future film instalments of the Star Trek franchise. Not because I’m looking forward to them, but because I’m apparently a mindless sheep.


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Star Trek
Ewan Gleadow
I've been writing for various different places for roughly four or five years now. Currently focusing my writing on film reviews, politics and occasional game reviews. Hopefully you enjoy my work, be sure to contact me if you have any criticisms or praise.

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