It would be a tired exercise to start off a narrative about the latest installment of the Star Trek franchise by discussing Hollywood’s relentless fascination with its own self-generated nostalgia. Instead, it would be fitting to take a page from the notebook of director J.J. Abrams and get to the point. Framed in a stunning, glistening, spaceship thrill-ride, Star Trek (2009) gives even the non-trekkie a reason to fall in love with sleek pioneers riding their “wagon-train to the stars.”
Star Trek (2009) follows an aimless James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) in his youth and explores the origins of the mythic crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Although the should-be captain harbors great potential, manifesting itself in his rambunctious tricks and schemes, he lacks vision as he staggers aboard the shiny new spaceship. While Kirk is destroying vintage Corvettes and cheating his way through the Starfleet Academy, we also witness Spock (Zachary Quinto) as he struggles to find a place among his Vulcan peers. With a mixed heritage of Vulcan and Human, Spock replaces his emotions with sheer determination and fierce drive.
Complete with several epic space battles, non-stop action is the catalyst for the characters to find their rightful place aboard the Enterprise. J.J. Abrams set out to make the new incarnation of Star Trek an entertaining film of blockbuster quality. Brilliant red phasers criss-cross and tear through the sturdy metal spaceship hulls, confident space walkers dive bomb out of space into the atmosphere, and cowboy crews engage the enemy in gun slinging shootouts. With so little time to breathe, Captain Kirk, Spock and the crew never allow the break neck speed of the film steal away from the story they have set out to retell.
Filmmakers have an infatuation with CGI-constructed action scenes with macho caricatures pounding the humanity out of their foes. The most popular of this summer’s blockbusters were tasteless adrenaline drips of cookie-cutter characters and viewfinder explosions. Yet, nestled among Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe is a summertime blockbuster called Star Trek. Entertainment should never be at the expense of the audience’s innate loyalty to the protagonists, especially protagonists that have already built a strong repertoire with their audience.
In the spirit of its mantra, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has gone where no science fiction franchise has gone before, inventing epic cast of dynamic characters blazing new trails for a better future. On the solid foundation of its heroes—Kirk, Spock, McCoy—Star Trek quickly built a strong following of costume wearing trekkies. Even those who are not savvy to the franchise have probably heard the phrase, “Live long and prosper,” or attempted the Vulcan salute. But the series went there, and then returned again and again for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. Although each series brought a slew of spirited characters to the table, they relied too much on the inherent bookishness and paced style of the original to breathe fresh air into the Trek epic and establish younger fans.
Blasting off on a journey through the blockbuster atmosphere, Star Trek remains a franchise that will live long and prosper.
- Ryan Alons