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Movie: Star Trek

May 15, 2009

by Justin Phillips

Somebody from the Paramount Pictures needs to give director J.J. Abrams a “thank you” card and maybe a few million extra dollars.

With a new perspective, a sleek new look, a non-stop pace and a little fresh air from Abrams, the once struggling Star Trek franchise has been momentarily resuscitated and handed over to an entirely new audience. Trekkies of yesteryear may be a bit uncomfortable with this type of prequel because of the sense of unfamiliarity, but it was made clear months before this movie ever hit theaters that the film was not going to be your parent’s type of classic Star Trek film.

Fortunately, with a franchise that has been unable for the past few years to find its stride again, the change in audience could not have come at a more perfect time. From the man who gave us blockbusters like “Mission Impossible III” and “Cloverfield,” a new version of an this classic was desperately needing to be released to the public in the form of 2009’s “Star Trek.”

The rule of thumb with movie re-makes is that the casting has to be as close to perfect as possible. Luckily, one of the things Abrams and his team were able to do was piece together an ensemble that saluted the cast of old while paving the way for the future.

Chris Pine did a more than appraisable job as the charismatic leader of the “USS Enterprise,” Captain Kirk. The 29-year-old actor who is known more by today’s young movie-going audience for his role opposite Lindsay Lohan in the tween hit “Just My Luck,” elicited a cool demeanor only William Shatner was able to pull off in the glory years of the franchise’s television series. Amazingly, Pine found a way to embody the charisma, charm and wit of Kirk in a way that was reminiscent of the old Star Trek while at the same time, he added a brash, rebelliousness that made the role fit more with the modern movie audience.

A round of applause needs to be given to Abrams and his team with the decisions that were made when identifying who was going to play the roles in the supporting cast. The supporting cast in this type of film is almost as important as the film’s story line and premise. Spock, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov were all cast perfectly in regard to the idea that the movie was directed toward a younger audience.

The only negative aspect of the movie was the absence of a strong female character, which was common in both the franchise’s television endeavors as well as the numerous attempts for big screen success. Nyoto Uhura, portrayed by Zoe Saldana, was one of the drawbacks as far the quality of the movie went. Saldana, known more for her role as Nick Cannon’s love interest in the movie “Drumline,” just wasn’t strong enough to carry Uhura’s character. Fortunately, for Saldana, the supporting cast hid her blemishes about as well as could be asked.
The Abrams creation is made with the same frenetic pace commonly found in the young director’s work, random lens flares included, while the action and script combine to create a heart-racing box office hit that leaves little room for a breath.

The only question that will remain after this movie makes its waves around the Star Trek fan community is what exactly the film will be considered in the long run. Will it be a new beginning for the franchise? Or will the film just go down as one of the many summer blockbusters to hit the big screen in the coming months? Only time will tell, so for the millions of Star Trek lovers around the world…live long and…never mind.

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