Home > Movies, Reviews > Maximum Warp…Punch It (A Star Trek Review)

Maximum Warp…Punch It (A Star Trek Review)

poster_poster3Well, it’s finally here: several years of waiting has finally culminated in the new “Star Trek” movie beaming to a screen near you this week. 

You can be jealous: I’ve already seen it twice (yeah, twice…it was better the second time, and I’ve a feeling it might be better still when I’ve seen it the third time…and then even better the fourth…okay, suffice it to say, I liked it, I liked it a lot.)

I’m too young to have grown up watching “Star Trek”: I’m sure many of the people going to see this film are. But my childhood was built around a lot of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” still holds a special place in my heart (along with my DVD collection, and anytime I manage to catch any re-runs…but enough of the space-station love.)

Anyway, my main concern can be set aside: my childhood remains intact, and there were a hell of a lot more moments in there that were faithful to the series rather than shitting all over it. (To be honest, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” could learn a lot from this film.) Instead of worrying, what I got was this awesome romp, this fun, intelligent and well put-together film and…well, did I mention I loved it.

In case me saying “I loved it” didn’t quite do it for you, my full review is below. (Until I get a few more votes on this poll, I’m sticking with my marks out of five grading system) and this gets a shiny 4/5 (but it’s more like 4.99999/5)

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It’s been seven years since there was last a “Star Trek” movie on the big-screen: if you’re a fan of the franchise, that’s a wait you might be grateful for, since “Star Trek: Nemesis” wasn’t the finest outing for the Enterprise and her crew. J.J. Abrams’ take on the series marks the eleventh movie, and a return to the original characters and ship best known from the classic 1960s series. Chronologically, it may be a step backwards, but “Star Trek” marks a massive leap forward for the franchise, perhaps lending more credence to the “Star Trek” name than it’s had in a long time. 

“Star Trek” is set a few years prior to the series, before James T. Kirk (Pine) has earned the title of captain of the Enterprise. A pre-credits space battle introduces us to the villainous Nero (Bana), a Romulan captain who has travelled back in time in pursuit of Ambassador Spock (Nimoy); the battle marks the death of Kirk’s father, and as the wayward teen grows into a rebellious adult, Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood) encourages him to enlist in Starfleet, with the challenge of being a better commander than his father. When Nero attacks again some years later, Pike, Kirk, the younger Spock (Quinto) and the crew of the Enterprise become embroiled in a race against time to save Earth from destruction and preserve their own futures. 

The plot of “Star Trek” might sound a little bit complicated, but it will make sense to both fans of the franchise and newcomers. The story itself comes together quite well, with all the characters given something substantial to do as several different plot strands intertwine. Regardless, the focus here is less on the story, and more on the characters and their emotional journeys, with some very real and personal threats and motivations presented for both Nero and the crew of the Enterprise.

Those worried about the film’s status as a reboot can set their fears aside: the “Star Trek” universe we know still exists and is lovingly referenced throughout the film, even though Abrams’ interpretation takes every opportunity it can to set itself apart as a whole new entity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the inclusion of Nimoy’s Spock in the movie, a love letter to the fans and the original series, but also providing a means for the baton to be passed to the new crew. In this light, Quinto’s turn as a younger Spock is especially good, breathing new depths into a character while still being recognisable, and managing to hold his own when sharing screen time with Nimoy. 

The rest of the cast are equally good, with Pine stepping into the shoes of James Kirk and proving himself worthy of the name while still giving a rebellious (and more youthful) edge to the character little seen before. The only casting that never quite works is Simon Pegg’s turn as engineer Scotty, whose character is played for pure comic relief. It’s an uncomfortable (but thankfully brief) addition to a movie that manages to maintain the humour (and even, in some places, the camp) of the original series, but that also knows when to take itself seriously and apply the tension.

And apply it does, with the action of “Star Trek” rarely letting up after its opening introductions. At a running time of two hours, it seems much shorter than that, and the effects are consistently impressive: from space battles to make-up, all come together to make “Star Trek” one of the better sci-fi films to grace our screens in recent years, and easily the best “Star Trek” movie to ever carry the name.

Part reboot to the franchise, part love-letter, “Star Trek” ticks the boxes for a sci-fi film in much the same way as “Iron Man” did for the comic book movie: at once fun, thrilling and able to acknowledge its own weaknesses with a playful wink, “Star Trek” does indeed boldly go where few films have gone before and, if we’re lucky, will go there again for the sequel.

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  1. Ruddog
    May 11, 2009 at 5:45 PM

    “Punch it?” Did anyone else notice that they said “Punch it” instead of “Engage,” which is what Han (and Lando) say to Chewie, AND that the lever to enter warp as the same lever as on the Millennium Falcon for the hyperdrive? I’m not a fan of the original series, so maybe the Falcon’s lever was stolen from it, but I don’t think so.

  2. May 11, 2009 at 1:52 AM

    it would seem that Chris Pine’s Capt. Kirk encapsulates all that Capt. Kirk was meant to be more than William Shatner’s version

  3. May 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    A DS9 fan. Woohoo, quality taste in TV!

    • burnallzombies
      May 5, 2009 at 3:49 PM

      Why thank you. I still need to get into Battlestar properly (since everyone calls it the spiritual successor and all that.)

      • May 6, 2009 at 12:33 PM

        BSG has been one of the best sci-fi shows around recently. Seems to have split the fanbase with the way it ended, though I thought it was excellent. Spiritual successor to DS9, I can see that and it shares 3 writers in common.

  4. Hedgie
    May 5, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    Sounds good. I always had a good feeling about this – JJ Can’t do much wrong in my eyes – so i am content that this worked out for the best. I’m checking it Friday night in IMAX Digital so I’ll let you know if and when the lens flare burns off my retinas 😀

    • burnallzombies
      May 5, 2009 at 3:48 PM

      Please do…I wish we still had an Imax screen over here 😦

      • Hedgie
        May 6, 2009 at 5:48 AM

        Yeh 😦
        This one is Digital, just got put in. It’s like watching a BluRay on a HDTV the size of a barn. Gotta see if there is one in or near London.

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