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PCR #476 (Vol. 10, No. 19). This edition is for the week of May 4--10, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Star Trek"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Star Trek"  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana and Leonard Nimoy
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 6 mins

“This,” the television ads keep saying, “is not your father’s ‘Star Trek.’” When I first saw that I was mildly disappointed. “Star Trek” was one of my dad’s favorite television programs. As a young boy I spent many a Thursday (and, in seasons two and three, Friday) night sitting at the base of his recliner as he enjoyed the various voyages of the Starship Enterprise. As I got older, my dad would tell me he was very proud of the various achievements I had made in my life. But deep inside I think his proudest moment came when I told him I had gotten to meet William Shatner.

Space. While cruising the galaxy the USS Kelvin is suddenly attacked by a much bigger ship, manned by Romulans. The captain of the attacking vessel demands the captain of the Kelvin come aboard his ship to discuss surrender terms. Upon arrival, the captain is asked the whereabouts of a Vulcan named Spock. Not getting the answer he wants, the Romulan leader kills the captain and orders the Kelvin destroyed. His orders are carried out but not before a majority of the crew escapes thanks to the bravery of First Officer George Kirk, whose pregnant wife is also on board. When the child is born she names him after both of his grandfathers: James Tiberius Kirk.

And so begins the “re-boot” of “Star Trek.”

After six television series, including an animated show, and ten films, the “Star Trek” franchise was getting stale. How many times could the crews encounter danger only to be saved by the heroics of Captain Kirk/Picard/Sisko/Janeway/Archer? Fans saw all that the future had to offer. But none of the past. This changes when we are first introduced to Kirk and Spock, one a hard headed Iowa boy with a passion for danger; the other the half human/half Vulcan son of an Ambassador, doing his best to suppress his anger when his classmates tease him about his mixed heritage. As they get older, they head to the Starfleet Academy, Kirk by way of impressing Captain Christopher Pike after a bar fight while Spock accepts the opportunity as a way of upsetting his elders, who would like him to follow in their footsteps at the Vulcan science academy. As the years pass, the men tolerate each other. Barely. Kirk is too much of a hotdog for the Vulcan, while Spock is too “logical” for the ambitious cadet. We are introduced to other names, their faces no longer familiar. Chekov. Uhura. Sulu. McCoy. Scotty.

The film has been well cast. Pine hits all the right notes as Kirk. Even as a young man he doesn’t contemplate failure or believe in the no win scenario. Quinto is his equal as Spock, one of the most famous characters in the history of science fiction. It couldn’t have been easy playing Spock with Nimoy on the set but Quinto nails his performance, allowing himself to show emotion when necessary and be cool as ice otherwise. The rest of the cast shines as well, making the characters their own. Director Abrams, responsible for such popular television shows as “Alias” and “Lost,” fills the screen with a new vision of the 23rd Century. Everything is transparent these days, no bulky computers to get in the way. But that doesn’t mean everything old is new again. Sharp eyed fans will get a glimpse of a troublesome Tribble when they meet Mr. Scott. The script, by longtime Abrams collaborators Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is outstanding, full of just enough nuggets from the past to keep even the most basic “Trek” fan happy. A blustery Dr. McCoy? Check. Giving Scotty a time limit to get the engines running “or we’re all dead?" Check. The one guy wearing red that gets chosen to accompany others NOT wearing red to a mysterious planetary surface. You got it. But it also adds new twists and turns to the legend that enhance the story, so much so that even if you’ve NEVER seen “Star Trek” you’ll be hooked.

The film is dedicated to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and his late wife, actress Majel Barrett, who once again lends her voice to the ship’s computer, a task she had undertaken for every show and film since the series began. Another great cameo is that of Randy Pausch, a long time “Trek” fan, whose moving “Last Lecture” became a successful book before he passed away last year. As I noted in my opening paragraph, I was worried I’d be disappointed by “Star Trek.” Hardly. In fact, the highest praise I can give it is this: Dad would have loved it.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Star Trek”  

This week's movie review of "Star Trek" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.