Star Trek

Star Trek
Star Trek
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Release date: 5 June 2009 (India)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Sequel: Star Trek Into Darkness
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Film Flex
Based on: Star Trek; by Gene Roddenberry
Box office: $385.7 million
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Starring – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Morrison, Chris Hemsworth and Leonard Nimoy


OVERVIEW – Star Trek

This is a rare time in history because for this odd, fleeting moment as long as it lasts, it’s a good time to be a ‘Star Trek’ fan. J.J. Abrams, the creator of the Sci-fi hits ‘LOST’, ‘Alias’ and ‘Fringe’, has managed to restore the Star Trek franchise to the greatness it once used to be revered with.

Abrams who is an outspoken non-Trek fan was able to put a fresh new face on the classic ‘Star Trek’ series and give it the necessary updates to make ‘Star Trek’ not just a property only hardcore sci-fi fans would flock to. He has made it accessible to people unfamiliar with the Star Trek franchise so a new generation of Trek fans can stand up without threat of public humiliation and proudly say “I like Star Trek’.

After multiple TV series incarnations and 10 feature length films, the ‘Star Trek’ franchise fizzled out. For all intent and purposes, ‘Star Trek’ was dead. The last film in theaters ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ was nothing more than a glorified cable TV movie released to theaters that killed off fan-favorite character Data and left many people wondering “Where did the magic go?”

Star Trek, a series that also set an early high-bar for the level of quality story telling that should be in a sci-fi series, also became something that was holding back science fiction as a genre. The Trek series became a property that had years of built up continuity that became inaccessible to newcomers. ‘Star Trek’ needed to clean house and sweep all that built up continuity under the bed.

What it truly needed was a fresh start- it needed a reboot to update the series and wash away the problems that come with having years of built-up continuity creates. As much as trekkies would hate this, it would prove to be the best thing to happen to the Trek franchise in decades.

Hardcore ‘Star Trek’ fans cringed at the news that J.J. Abrams was going to undertake the classic ‘Star Trek’ series (and give it a reboot in a matter of speaking). The classic Trek is a pop culture tent pole with iconic characters. For some, the thought of recasting those characters with younger actors was a sacrilegious act. I, myself, was skeptical, especially since J.J. Abrams wanted to play with the original Trek characters and not the Next Generation ones. Many regard the Original Star Trek series as a groundbreaking series, but Next Generation as a whole was the better, more interesting series.

Pulling off the casting of the new ‘Star Trek’ cast would prove to be J.J. Abrams’ biggest dilemma. He couldn’t cast the original Star Trek crew since most of them have aged significantly (and a few have passed on) since they last big-screen debuted.

He would have to appease the movie-going public and the hardcore Trek fans at the same time. Not an easy feat. Casting these characters would involve having actors that can pay homage to the classic characters, but also put their own unique spin on the character. Not simply do just impressions or even make caricatures of these iconic characters.

The casting news that up-and-coming actor Chris Pine would play the leap-before-looking Kirk, and that Zachary Quinto (whom most knew as the murderous Skylar on ‘HEROES’) would play the logical but stoic Vulcan, Spock surprised many. Kirk and Spock were the hardest casting, after those two were secured the rest of the crew casting would easily fall in line as long as Kirk and Spock were secured.

The rest of the cast would be filled out with Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Karl Urban as chief medical officer Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Zoe Saldana as linguistics officer Nyota Uhura, John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, Anton Yelchin Pavel Chekov and Simon Pegg as chief engineer Scotty.

With ‘Star Trek’ as a fan or casual viewer, you do have to wonder is there any more life left in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise? In a surprise a move, non-Trek fan J.J. Abram’s would inject the ‘Star Trek’ series with new life and the vigor that it needed to bring ‘Star Trek’ back into the movie-going public’s lexicon as something that was fun and cool again.

The ‘Star Trek’ reboot is not as cerebral technical as the original 1960’s series was, but beyond some very minor plot holes, ‘Star Trek’ is flawless summer film. It is some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a very long time. It’s a perfect film for introducing a new audience to the ‘Star Trek’ series, but also keeps intact the continuity and characters that hardcore Trek fans have come to love. Without giving too much away, this film is not technically a straight reboot of the series, but more so a retelling of the classic elements and characters with a new added twists.

One of the most notable things that J.J. Abram’s has done to the ‘Star Trek’ series is that he’s given it a feeling of immenseness. Everything about this film feels big. The set pieces, the space battles and even the updated designs of the spacecraft used in this film feel gigantic. Something the ‘Star Trek’ series always suffered from was that everything always felt confined.

All of the corridors and sets pieces of the original TV and film series were tight, and sometimes claustrophobic. The original ‘Star Trek’ was also camp, but Abrams take some of those campy elements (Federation uniforms for one ) and incorporated them into the story without question. Obviously this was a budgetary problem in the early TV series and movies, but now that is cured. Space feels big, daunting and even scary at times.

The Enterprise retains the classic look of the original federation vessel, but now it’s massive and fills up the screen with its presence. Even the insides of the Enterprise are gigantic. The scenes in the engine room (which were shot in a beer distillery) give it a more realistic sense, with vats and pipes everywhere. It feels like being inside a battleship and that’s how it should feel to be inside the belly of the Enterprise.

There was so much about this film that I walked away absolutely enthralled with. First, ‘Star Trek’ looks extraordinary. The camera work never feels stale. The camera is constantly moving in action scenes and conversations are framed perfectly. In his last film effort ‘Mission Impossible III’, Abrams felt like he was shooting a TV show. In this film it feels like Abrams is embracing the film medium and going for broke. There is the sense that Abrams is finally shooting a big budget film and doesn’t shy away from that. The look of the ‘Star Trek’ universe feels familiar and new at the same time.

The opening weekend of ‘Star Trek’, I watched this film twice. One time with someone who had very little knowledge of the original Trek series, and another time with a more hardcore fan. It was interesting to see the experiences of these two people as a barometer for how accessible it was to newcomers, but also to see how much it catered to fans of the original series. Both of these people equally loved the film which means J.J. Abrams has truly accomplished this difficult feat of appealing to the mainstream and niche audiences.

This may be an overzealous statement at this point in time, but I have heavy suspicion that ‘Star Trek’ will be my favorite film of the summer. ‘Star Trek’ is the perfect summer movie-going escapist experience. ‘Star Trek’ is the type of experience you want going to a summer film. It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s big and most of all it’s an action packed assault on your senses. It has intriguing and loveable characters that are familiar to some of us and completely new to a whole new group of people.

This doesn’t replace the ‘Star Trek’ series that fans of flocked to, it gives a whole new generation a chance to experience ‘Star Trek’ and the iconic characters that inhabit the ‘Star Trek’ universe. J.J. Abram’s has done what many thought couldn’t be accomplished, he put new life and vigor into a dying franchise and brought ‘Star Trek’ back to the mainstream. It’s a weird world we live in where you can be respected and not laughed at for being a fan of ‘Star Trek’.

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