“Spock, you are fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is: which path will you choose? This is something only you can decide”- Sarek
Over the past decades, Star Trek has a huge fanbase from the hit television shows to a barrage of movies that ranges from good (even) or bad (odd). Coming from someone who was never into Star Trek, it seemed like a terrible idea wanting to reboot this dead franchise for people who weren’t fans before. Even though it has nothing to do with being a Star Wars fan, maybe it wouldn’t be right to get people attached to this franchise once again. However, 2009’s Star Trek is absolutely outstanding for someone who’s never been interested in this franchise before.
Before this came out, I didn’t really know anything about the franchise. Sure, I was familiar with the different shows and movies based on Gene Roddenberry’s creation, but it didn’t look interesting for a then 12-year-old more interested in Star Wars back then. It wasn’t until a full-length trailer was shown before Quantum of Solace, and I was blown away with what I just saw. And that trailer was better than the actual movie I was paying to see that day. I also remember it being the one movie I was most excited about that year. So, my mom picked me up from school to see it that afternoon. And, man, did I experience something spectacular.
Maybe it was the low expectations that I went with. It was like Paramount wanted to reboot the franchise after 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis didn’t perform well at the box office and with critics. But director J.J. Abrams, his second time directing after Mission: Impossible III, revamped this for a new generation without making it cheesy and actually making it exciting and fresh. Like what he did with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he knows that he wasn’t gonna ruin anything that the fans loved before, but put a unique spin on it. He wanted to make a movie dedicated to the fans who just enjoy great sci-fi. Yes, this does include his signature “lens flares” in almost every scene, but you’ll get used to them later on.
With a fascinating story written by writing partners Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers) staying true to the source material. The idea of this taking place in the same universe as the previous but set in an alternate timeline was a smart way to bring back. Most reboots nowadays won’t go for that, but here it works on so many levels the same way Batman Begins or Casino Royale did prior. It also gained points to throwing in humor that doesn’t compromise the rest of the tone.
What I love most about this is that this really is an origin story for Kirk and Spock, respectively. We first see them as little kids trying to find their past in this world, and now they want to do something more when they’re older. Kirk grew up as a troublemaking in Iowa and it wasn’t until Captain Pike (an excellent Bruce Greenwood) challenges him to join Starfleet to do something better, and he does. Spock is half-human/half-Vulcan who also doesn’t know his place in this world because of that reason. They seemed to be enemies when they first met, but we all know that they must work together.
This was the role that made Pine that star he is today. What I love about his portrayal of Kirk is that he comes off as cocky, but he’s very smart. I mean, he did “pass” the Kobayashi Maru simulation (no-win scenario). I also sensed a bit of Shatner in his performance. Some were worried that Quinto, known for being on Heroes at the time, was gonna make Spock an unlikable character. But he wasn’t at all. Quinto made Spock to a reasonable character to actually connect with. Even years later, you can’t see anyone else in the role.
What can I say about the casting besides being the definition of perfect? The performance that the rest of the ensemble can’t be unmatched, including Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, John Cho as Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, and Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.) as Chekov. Also, have to mention that Chris Hemsworth (a couple years before he became Thor) made his film debut where he plays George Kirk, Jim’s dad. Plus, it was nice to see the late Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as Spock from the original timeline.
All of the fast-paced action set pieces in here are exciting and never becomes dull at any moment. Just the opening sequences alone where the U.S.S. Kelvin is fighting off the Romulan ship was breathtaking and emotional when George sacrifices himself to not only save his crew but his wife and their newborn son.
Some of the other technical aspects that shouldn’t be ignored are Michael Giacchino’s beautiful score that re-creates that memorable theme song, the amazing visual effects that still hold to this day, and the excellent make-up work, which won the Academy Award the following year.
The only problem that holds Star Trek from being a perfect film is the main Romulan villain, Nero. That’s not to say Eric Bana gave a bad performance because he was solid throughout, but I felt like he was kind of a weak villain to start the new reboot with. But that’s just me.
With the popularity this gain after its release, it was a box office hit and earned rave reviews leading way to two sequels that I wished gotten more love over the years: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and the highly underrated Star Trek Beyond (2016)
When this came out in the summer movie season of 2009, this was one of the only movies that were considered great and didn’t become a major disappointment like other Paramount movies (Transformers: Revenge of Fallen, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). And it seemed like everybody would agree that it was awesome. Still, to this day, I consider this to be my favorite movie of 2009. That’s no lie.
Star Trek was the start of a new saga to a franchise that gained new fan and old fans for what’s to come later on in the future. Did this make me become a “Trekkie?” It didn’t, but I did fully understand why this franchise made science fiction the way it is today. Star Trek is a spectacular reboot delivering on the great direction and characterization while being action packed throughout. “Live long and prosper”.