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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

STAR TREK

By D.E.Levine

Director: J.J.Abrams
Producers: J.J.Abrams and Damon Lindelof
Executive Producers: Bryan Burk, Jeffrey Chernov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Co-Producer: David Witz
Screenplay: Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Original Television Series: Gene Roddenberry
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Morrison, Rachel Nichols
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Thriller
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 127 Minutes

Another prequel awaited with great anticipation since the original television series has become iconic, but the last few movies lacked the luster and excitement fans expect and showed aging characters in the Federation.

This film doesn't disappoint. It's fun. It's exciting. It takes the beloved crew of the USS Enterprise and provides back stories to explain how they got to be who they were. The audience gets to sit back and enjoy what's happening on the screen while J.J.Abrams directs a fast paced exciting fantasy.

The special effects are fantastic, but with a budget of $150 million the audience expects it to be just as fantastic as it is. And because this is Star Trek, we cannot settle for less.

The film has some "names" in it like Leonard Nimoy playing an older and wiser Spock, and Eric Bana, unrecognizable as the heavily tattooed and venomous renegade Romulan, Nero who's seriously into water boarding.

But essentially the cast is young, eager and relatively unknown, They're not imitating their predecessors but adding a whole new dimension to the character Of course, they're out to save the world after Captain Nero comes back from the future harboring a grudge against Spock and swearing to destroy everyone who comes in contact with him.

Since the story starts with James T. Kirk's birth and continues through the Federation Starship Academy we meet the younger version of the beloved characters, fresh and alive with great hopes and dreams. The audience already knows the characters will succeed, but how they do it is what we learn.

When Captain Nero first returns from the future, he ambushes and kills the captain of a starship. The first officer who takes command following the captain's death has only 12 minutes before Nero destroys him and the starship, but during that time he saves 800 people. The young captain is James T. Kirk's father, and among the lives he saves are James' mother and her newborn son, James.

It's a brilliant way to weave the story of the future and the past together and to explain the rationale or the irrational of the different characters.

After four decades of reruns and being stuck in the same dimension, the characters of Star Trek suddenly have a foundation upon which to grow and build their lives. Their emotions and their actions are now explainable and understandable. For the viewers, including the most devoted Star Trek fans, it's a whole new world and it's definitely a world where they will live long and prosper.

A blond blue-eyed heart throb (Chris Pine) plays James T. Kirk just starting out, not as an accomplished captain but as a smart alec who challenges authority. He doesn't play William Shatner, the original Kirk, but instead gives a believable performance as the young, intelligent and overly cocky former juvenile delinquent.

Zachary Quinto so breathtakingly resembles the original young Spock that it's uncanny and he's totally believable in both his looks and his actions. It's the beginning of the explanation of what formed the friendship between Kirk and Spock.

J.J.Abrams directs a magnificent epic in Star Trek. There's a lot of the "I'm from the future theme" going around these days. We've seen it on the "Lost" television series, another of Mr. Abrams' creations. Yet, that particular theme works well in Star Trek. It seems perfectly believable that the evil Nemo comes back from the future to wreak revenge and destroy Spock. It's just as believable that the young crew of the USS Enterprise rise to the challenge and defeat their adversary.

All of our old favorites are there -- Dr. "Bones" McCoy, "Beam Me Up" Scotty, Mr. Chechov and Pilot Sulu. But with the new script and in the hands of a capable cast and director, we see who these people really are - what caused them to be the way they are and what fosters their friendship and bonds them together.

Communications Officer Uhura, a relatively flat character in the previous series and films is emotionally rounded, fulfilled and given dimension by capable actress Zoe Saldana. Uhuru turns out to be the girl that Kirk can't attract, the one who got away. It's a real eye opener to learn she passes on Kirk because she's involved and in love with Spock. Who knew? And what an interesting twist in the Star Trek story.

We, the audience, the "trekkies" are privy to watching the characters develop their friendships and discover traits about themselves and each other that we already know because we saw it in the television show.

There are unusual events, brave battles cementing friendships and acknowledgement of skills perhaps not thought to be heroic. When Sulu states his skill is as a fencer, young Kirk can barely restrain his laughter since that skill doesn't compete with the marksmanship and other skills the other cadets have. Yet it is Sulu's expert fencing that will save both Kirk and Sulu to fight another day.

This is the year of the prequel, but Star Trek is so much richer and more interesting than it's competitors that there is no comparison. When you go to this film the only requirement is that you enjoy yourself, and that is very easily done. It isn't beyond belief that this will be the start of a series of Star Trek movies.