Star Trek (2009)
Eric Renderking Fisk | May 2009
Is The Story Any Good?
For reasons we won't know or understand until further along in the movie, Romulan Captain Nero takes his souped-up mining ship from the future and goes on a killing rampage starting with an unprovoked attack on The USS Kelvin where George and Winona Kirk are expecting their child... Baby Jimmy. Unknown to the survivors of The USS Kelvin, the rest of the galaxy, and the audience, Nero's attack and mere presence changes 'the time line.'
Years later we catch up with much more tougher, grittier versions of Kirk and Spock as children. Kirk is a badly behaved juvenile delinquent while Spock is a thoughtful child with smoldering anger just below the surface. Mention his mother in an inappropriate way and he's too willing and able to kick your ass and beat you nearly to death.
20 years after that, Spock has the choice of either going to The Vulcan Science Academy or Starfleet - and his choice is made for him when one his fellow uber-elves on The VSA consul makes rude comment about how he's done extraordinary well despite being at a disadvantage - meaning having a human mother. Meanwhile the galaxies greatest under-achiever, Jim Kirk, gets into a bar-fight after making a pass at a Starfleet cadet named Uhura. The bad beating is broken up by Captain Pike, someone who served with Jim's parents and encourages Jim to get his life back in order by joining the Space Navy...
"You've always had a hard time finding your place in this world, haven't you? Never knowing your true worth. You can settle for less in ordinary life, or do you feel like you were meant for something better? Something special."
Jim joins up, takes a shuttle from his home in Iowa (where a new ship is being built and the cadets were training,) and meets Bones McCoy, who also joins the service since he has nowhere else to go and nothing better to do. And that's basically the theme for a large portion of this movie - the people who were meant to be together but aren't because their lives went on a totally different path (thanks to the altered time-line). Eventually, the members of the crew cross paths thanks to a huge crisis and under-staffed starships in the area.
If you know anything about the original versions of these characters, you know that there's just something off about their lives since they aren't should be. Best example is Montgomery Scott who was exiled to Delta Vaga in the planet Vulcan's solar system because of a transporter accident that involved Admiral Archer's beagle. Some of these characters are where they should be, only a few years too early. Then there's the wiz-kid 17 year old Chekov is pressed into active service because of an officer shortage thanks to a crisis elsewhere, while Sulu fills in for another helmsman who was under-the-weather.
As the crisis develops and things go from bad to worse, BILLIONS are senselessly slaughtered, ships are destroyed by the dozen, and these heroes have to grow up fast and have to operate without the safety net of their elders or mentors near by.
For a long time now I've wanted to see a motion picture that would accurately portray what life might be like in the not too distant future. There are some aspects of space travel will be exciting and full of wonder, while other aspects will be fraught with danger. Also, there might be boring aspects such as the routine of ship-keeping and waiting to get to the destination. There are few movies that have conveyed these aspects of space travel and exploration, but most movies about the future of space travel are more about the adventure and the "WOW" factor and less about the reality of the hardships involved. The ships we travel in will not always be anesthetically pleasing inside and out. Complex and life threatening problems won't be solved with a quick fix with some new gadget, a push of a button or a simple voice command.
I believe that a movie about the genuine hardships that humanity would encounter would be far more entertaining then something made up and exaggerated with melodramatics and unrealistic events. I thought that it's highly unlikely that the type of movie I'm waiting for would ever be a Star Trek film. "Wagon Train To The Stars," how Gene Roddenberry referred to Star Trek, has always been about the story. but when it comes to how everything looks; form would always trump function. Just looking cool was enough, and the only ugly ships would belong to a race of beings that humanity and our allies were at odds with.
The starships in this version of Star Trek look like something you would actually use travel in to distant stars and not just sets on a lot somewhere. In the engineering section of The Enterprise, there are pipes, gages and bulky containers and complicated equipment. Sometimes the crew has to duck down when passing underneath some widget. The bridge is this perfect balance of sterile spaciousness and practicality with complicated equipment and panels laid out every where that seems to make sense. The color schemes are the same from both the original series and the motion pictures. Ascetically, what I loved the most about the look of "Starfleet" is the well used look; there are dings, dents and scratches - with the exception of the new ship nothing looks like it just came out of the box.
Some of the biggest problems with the Trek franchise is everything having to adhere to the "canon." You can't do some stories because it's already been done before or conflicts with some philosophy. If something was too far out of the Trek formula, there would be the loud choirs of trekkies saying "that would never happen in the Trek Universe." After all these years, it's almost impossible to come up with a plot or story that fit all these criteria.
There's the plot device in this version Star Trek that throws away the cannon in such a way that you can either think that this is either a reboot (starting over from scratch) or an alternate time-line and that what happened before still exists in some other universe or dimension.
But as it stands now, in future movies anything can happen... since it's already happened in this one. There is no 'history' to fall back on, there are no rules that prohibit anyone from doing anything. And because of the extreme circumstances our crew find themselves in, they've already done some things that were out of character in the TV series and movies. Anything can and could happen in future movies. And should.
The possibilities are endless....
This isn't a movie for effeminate sissy-boys who like to watch "Space C-SPAN" with pajama costumes. For the Trekkies who complain that his isn't the "Star Trek" they remember (I'm talking to YOU, Vince Horiuchi of The Salt Lake Tribune! Did you even SEE the movie?) they need to remember the preamble of The Original Series: To BOLDLY go where no one has gone before. Space exploration is for the bold. This movie conveys the fact that space exploration is not for the timid, those who live vicariously through the actions of others while talking cautiously and moving in slow measured steps. This type of life is for people who have drive, determination, and explore space for a reason. Yes, people join the space service to see what's out there, to rush out there and be on the cutting edge - but there are some people like Dr. McCoy who join up because they're running from something.
Space exploration will never be for quiet effeminate whiners clinging to moms apron strings while bemoaning about how life should really be as they suckle their thumbs or diet soda bottles. This movie is almost an in your face attack towards the stereotypical trekkies, and I hope it's a motivation for some in the blogosphere to find a higher gear. Write to your reprehensive and President and demand we get our "Space Fever" back. - Go to school and get your degrees in engineering and science, make the positive aspects of this movie a reality. I hope this movie serves as an inspiration for everyone to do better and push forward - everyone including my own children.
Everything that was "wrong" with Star Trek is suddenly fixed with this movie, while keeping what worked in the past. This is what Star Trek should have always been. It takes the well-established canon and rips it to shreds, crumples it then throws it in your face - this is a reboot thanks to a clever plot device. Then the producers of this film ask: "Now, what are you going to do about it?"
I recommend this movie, despite the deficit of fedoras and leather jackets. I loved almost every aspect of this film.
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