Star Trek

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

28 December

 

 

Birth of Nichelle Nichols, 1932

On this day in 1932, Grace Dell (aka Nichelle) Nichols was born, in Robbins, Illinois, USA. Having studied in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, she first arrived in showbiz as a singer in a 1961 musical called Kicks and Co, then went on to have roles in Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess, before touring as a singer with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton’s bands. In 1964 she appeared in an episode of a TV series called The Lieutenant, produced by Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry cast her again in his next TV series, Star Trek, as Lieutenant Uhura. The series ran from 1966-69 and after it ended Nichols became an advocate for more racial and gender diversity at Nasa. Personnel her organisation helped recruit included Charles Bolden, the current Nasa administrator and Lori Garver, deputy administrator. She has also served on the board of governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit educational organisation founded by Dr Wernher von Braun, aka “the Father of Rocket Science”.

 

 

 

Star Trek (2009, dir: JJ Abrams)

Just calling it simply Star Trek suggests either boundless arrogance, or that JJ Abrams and crew knew they had got it right. They so have. From beginning to end this reboot pays full homage to the original, aping its humour, its humanism, its folksiness and its out-there plotlines. The casting is flawless – Chris Pine plays William Shatner playing Kirk (sitting cross-legged on the captain’s chair, brilliant); even better is Zachary Quinto as Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Karl Urban also catches that suggestion of a tremor in his comic portrayal of DeForrest Kelley’s Bones McCoy. You can argue that Simon Pegg is the weak link as Scotty, but he might argue right back that he’s one of the few not aiming for impersonation. And Zoe Saldana as Uhura does seem almost improbably sexy, but then Zoe Saldana is improbably sexy, so what are you going to do? In terms of genre this is your origins story meets breathless actioner, with just enough time spent sketching in characters who are, let’s face it, already known to us. As to the CG effects, well much money and a lot of time has been lavished on them. Abrams seems fully aware that special effects in sci-fi movies are often a bit of a letdown – many directors seem to abdicate control when green-screen technicians get involved – and it is noticeable that the more complicated and intense the CG, the more Abrams insists on physical, balletically controlled work by the actors too – see the space jump scene, and then look up the actors’ anguished stories about dangling about in harnesses for hours on end. The story? No idea – after we’ve met the youthful, bratty Kirk, and the remainder of the gang of Sulu, Chekhov and so on has eventually been got together, it seems that it’s about the Romulans doing something dastardly involving the swallowing of planets using black holes, or something. Led by a relatively inconsequential Eric Bana as Romulan aggressor Nero, this entire plotline is the worst thing about the film. But then that’s a minor quibble. This is not a story about earthlings versus aliens, it’s a film introducing us to characters we already know, who are then observed easing themselves into positions we’re familiar with, while an appreciative audience claps as their guys arrive at each recognisable mark. Enter Leonard Nimoy as the old Spock, accompanied by a lump in the throat as he reads out the familiar “these are the voyages of the Starship enterprise” lines. We are all Trekkies now.

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • Because you missed Winona Ryder and Chris Hemsworth first time round
  • Of the 11 Star Trek films (up to this point), this is the best
  • Because Roddenberry wanted someone younger in the future to redo Star Trek “bigger and better”
  • The space jump scene

 

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

 

Star Trek – at Amazon

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Star Trek”

  1. Star Trek. When someone speaks this name, various images, ideas, characters and phrases come to mind. I know they certainly do with me. Characters such as Kirk, Spock, Picard, Data, Janeway, Seven of Nine; ideas like the prime directive; phrases like "Live long and Prosper", "Good God Jim, I'm a doctor not a….". I wouldn't consider myself a "Trekkie", but I do have a deep affection for this series and world.

    To my great delight, I was fortunate enough to see an advanced screening last night of JJ Abrams re-imaging of "Star Trek". I must admit that I was skeptical at first about taking such iconic characters and recasting them, even in younger iterations, because most people think of the characters of Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov with the actors that originally portrayed them. These portrayals are engrained in the pop culture consciousness of the world and hence my skepticism arose. Fortunately, my doubts were unnecessary.

    This is not your father's "Star Trek". From the moment the movie begins, so does the action and it never lets up. However, this movie has more than just incredible and intense action, it also pays homage to the series of old. Sure, they wanted to bring us a Trek for the 21st century, but they also realized that they needed to respect the source material and fans of a series that has been around more than 40 years. However, you don't need to know much about Star Trek to enjoy this movie. Each character has been given a background and history that lets you know a little something about each one. There's a lot to be told in an origin movie and it is handled deftly by both the writers and the director.

    But, what really made the movies for me were the actors chosen to play these roles, especially Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, aka "Bones". This movie would not have worked if the casting of these three characters had not been spot on. Both Mr. Quinto and Urban uncannily channel their predecessors, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley. They took on some of their inflections, mannerisms and expressions to really give you a sense that they are just younger versions of the originals. Chris Pine, however, takes on the most memorable role in Trek history and makes it his own. This Kirk is not only the womanizer, lover, and captain that you already know, but as portrayed by Mr. Pine also has a swagger, bravado, intelligence, and is a complete adrenaline junkie. We could not have asked for a better Kirk in this movie.

    They have laid a solid foundation for a new series, with new life, perfect cast and a director with a true vision. If the first movie can be this good, my expectations for further adventures have risen exponentially.

    This is my first review for our website and as such might not be very good since I have no experience at writing reviews. I intentionally didn't reveal any plot points so as to not spoil anything for whoever may read this. I may in the future reveal areas that may have spoilers but mark these sections so you can skip over them. I'll be seeing Wolverine tomorrow and hope to have a review up by tomorrow night. Until we meet again, "Live long and Prosper!"

  2. There was no way that this reboot was going to avoid all references to either the original series of Star Trek or the other spin-off series – anyone going in to see this film had to accept that as a given. But any cheesy bits (of which there were relatively few) are blown away by the sheer beauty and bravado of this film.

    I was a fairly big Trekkie in my youth, but in the last 10 years only really kept up with it by watching a few new episodes here and there and seeing the big screen outings (OK, I admit that I have all 10 films on special edition DVD – £47 was a bargain!) – but Abrams' vision here has me thinking the new franchise will be even better than what has come before.

    What made this film special for me was not the story (remarkably good, bearing in mind that, like the first film in any new franchise, it's backbone was character development). What made this film for me was the….photography? Can you even call CGI photography? Well, either way, this film was a visual feast. The way that scale was conveyed was breath-taking. I'm not sure whether I read this somewhere or if I can take credit for it myself, but the difference came in the way that Abrams shoved aside the traditional Star Trek view of Enterprise as a lumbering naval ship and took a more Star Wars-esquire dogfight approach. This has set a high standard for a new era of Star Trek that I hope will spawn at least a couple more films.

    It's not that I wasn't impressed with the character development, the acting, the script or the story – it's just that this film looked so gorgeous that I haven't been able to think of anything else since I saw it last night! But sufficed to say, this was overall an excellent feature. It might not quite deserve a 100% rating, but it's worth more than 90% in my eyes – so, by rounding up, it gets 10/10 from me! Final warning: see this film in the cinema. Do not wait for it to come out on DVD. It. Will. Not. Do. It. Justice.

    JJ, you've won a fan!

  3. Last night I was lucky enough to be one of the few to attend the world premiere of J.J. Abram's "Star Trek" at the Sydney Opera House. This red carpet event was every bit as surreal and magical as the film itself.

    The film in many ways matched the venue – unreal. You have doubtless heard or seen other reviews (as I have) and they probably say the same thing: this is (in every sense of the phrase) a second take on the Star Trek universe, from the beginning.

    From the opening sequence, JJ Abrams asserts his authority in a plot twist which will shake the very fabric of the Star Trek universe. In a sudden (plot) twist, the very nature of the film becomes clear: this is a new Star Trek.

    However, the opening sequence delivers more than just this "statement" – it also gives us a taste of what is to come: action, drama, solid performances and an outstanding introduction to a new era.

    Little by little we are introduced to the main characters, starting with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura as we briefly navigate their early lives including events at Starfleet Academy before hitting a plot crescendo which brings all the cast together – and to the starship Enterprise, NCC 1701!

    This is a movie strong on character development, and each of the actors deliver brilliant performances – nothing less would be appropriate given the shoes each has to fill.

    The movie moves along at an agreeable pace, never slow enough to be tedious, nor too frenetic so as to be judged another "run 'n' gun" style sci-fi action flick.

    This is a movie with cutting edge special effects, but they serve more to frame the storyline and characters rather than to be the show entirely.

    Star Trek has always been tied to models and great visuals, so this is something which we've come to expect from this groundbreaking franchise.

    Since I do not intend to introduce spoilers in this review, I can only really say that the crew of the USS Enterprise is brought full circle to face the film's dark enemy, a Romulan by the name of Nero who is portrayed by Australia's own Eric Bana (who is not given nearly enough screen time in my humble opinion).

    By now you've probably heard that the movie also features Leonard Nimoy – reprising his role as Mr (please, not Doctor) Spock. This is indeed true, however you may be surprised to learn that this is no token cameo role.

    Leonard Nimoy's Spock plays a pivotal role in the film, and in a way bridges the franchise from the original series to the new film version. He also has delivery of my most favorite line in the film..

    Each actor holds their own with the roles we know so well. It would be unfair to single out any specific actor.. but I have to say that Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto are simply outstanding amongst a group of very talented actors in a movie which is (perhaps a little surprisingly) carried by strong character development.

    In summary, this film is likely to appeal to a wide audience including die hard Trekkies and those new to the Star Trek universe. This is a must see film, even if you can't tell the difference between a Tribble and a Tholian!

  4. Darth Vader, err, Darth Maul – umm, I mean Nero – has this huge, gigantic awesome Death Star – err, I mean Mining Ship, that can destroy entire planets. So Nero blows up Alderaan – umm, I mean Vulcan, killing Princess Leia's father – I mean, Spock's mother. And then the Death Star homes in on the Rebel Base – Umm, I mean the mining ship homes in on Starfleet headquarters, and only Luke Skywalker can stop it by ignoring orders and turning off his targeting computer and trusting the Force – no, I mean only Jim Kirk can stop it by ignoring Starfleet's orders and trusting his instincts. It's a good thing Old Ben Kenobi was there to give Kirk that fatherly advice earlier – no, wait, that was Captain Pike.

    And then they had a big old celebration, and Luke and Han got medals – err, I mean, Jim Kirk got a medal and was made captain.

    This movie was terrible.

    The sad thing, I was actually loving it, totally suckered in, emotionally caught up in the film, and then it just got really stupid.

    The movie totally lost me when Spock threw Jim Kirk off of his ship and made him go down to the Ice Planet of Hoth. Why would Spock do that? Why would ANY Starfleet officer abandon one of their own on a frozen planet full of deadly Wampas during the middle of an interstellar war – err, interstellar terrorist event?

    Spock should have been court-martialed for that. No commanding officer in any military organization would ever do that, anywhere, any time, for any reason.

    Luckily, the evil tattoo-faced bad guy, Darth Maul – umm, Nero, did THE EXACT SAME THING to his sworn enemy, Old Spock, who showed up just in time to save Kirk, which was really lucky, because Kirk didn't have his lightsaber handy to cut off the snow-monster's arm.

    So Spock and Nero are morally equivalent with each other, both banishing their enemies to a frozen wasteland. How symmetrical.

    Thankfully, this happens to be the exact same planet that Montegomery "Scotty" Scot was also unfairly banished to! What a lucky coincidence!

    Old Spock knew Kirk and Scotty in the future! And in the future, Scotty figured out a way to magically beam onto a ship moving faster than the speed of light half a galaxy away! And Old Spock remembers how he did it! Yay! Magic!

    Now, smart people would have used this trick to beam the bad guys off of their own ship, and into the vacuum of space, where they would have died, and Earth would have been saved.

    This movie is not about smart people.

    The villain is a coal miner from the future. He hates Spock because Spock tried to save his homeworld from destruction. So it's Spock's fault? Why? Because Spock got there too late – did Spock stop off for some fast food or something? Why is it Spock's fault?

    I mean, if I my planet were destroyed, and I got sucked a hundred years into the past, I would warn my planet, so they could start evacuating. I would use my enormous mining ship to start ferrying off the billions of refugees to a nice safe planet, not go around the galaxy destroying all of the most habitable worlds.

    It's not just Nero who is mentally challenged, though. Old Spock needs only a few drops of "Red Matter" to turn a supernova into a black hole – but he's got like fifty gallons of it on board his ship. Why? Is that smart? Is that safe? What if a bunch of terrorists were able to get hold of all that Red Matter by capturing your puny little vessel? Duh! I think Old Spock is a bit senile.

    Let's face it. Most of the Star Trek movies have sucked. And sadly, so does this one.

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