#97: Star Trek (2009)

I’M Spock now, bitch!


Director:
J.J. Abrams
Year: 2009
Genre: Sci-Fi

We have arrived in the future. Well, 2009 is technically the past, but if you have embarked on this Top 100 journey, starting with Mad Max in 1979, you have jumped forward 30 years in cinema history. The setting of the film in question is so far into the future (2258) that no one living today will ever know its wonders, or will they? Ladies and gentlemen, ranking at #99, welcome on board J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, a film that I believe sets the benchmark for 21st century blockbusters.

Although I am quite fond of the Star Trek series, I am by no means a “fan”, let alone a Trekkie. I have only seen a handful of TV episodes from the original 1966 series and three of the earlier films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Generations (1994). Whilst I have liked all of those installments, particularly The Wrath of Khan, I much prefer Abrams’ reboot. Apparently this makes me less of a Star Trek fan because the new Star Trek uses more action and emotion to compensate for a lack of moral challenges and sci-fi philosophy. I’m more of a Star WARS fan anyway, so bring on the melodrama, I’m a sucker for that shit. Abrams’ film makes me happy because both times I saw it I literally cried with joy and that’s what blockbuster adventures should do. Well, maybe not make you cry – not everybody’s a pussy like me – but a great blockbuster film should genuinely fill you with excitement.

Abrams’ film manages to appeal to a new, young and sexy audience while remaining faithful to the original series. Star Trek (2009) is an origin story that explores how the characters from the original series end up in the crew. For many Trekkies perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this reboot is, due to it being a prequel, the characters must be younger and therefore recast! I was worried myself before the film came out, especially for Kirk’s character. I’m actually quite a fan of William “The Shat” Shatner, he’s a knock out star personality, Star Trek aside, and who the fuck is Chris Pine anyway? Turns out the kid’s got spirit, he is really charismatic as the young Captain and convincing as someone who would one day grow up to be The Shat. Abrams did an outstanding job re-casting the whole crew. Zachary Quinto is mesmerizing as young Spock. His ability to communicate with facial expression alone is spellbinding, and of all the new cast members he is the one who resembles the most physical likeness to his predecessor. Check him out in the still above; uncanny, if not a little more bad-ass in this incarnation. Fans of the original should rejoice in the fact that Leonard Nimoy himself reprises his role as Quinto’s future self – nerdgasm! Big bonuses, Winona Ryder plays Spock’s mother and Scotty is played by a true Trekkie in his own right, Simon Pegg!

Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are careful not to disturb the canon of the original series and preceding films by introducing a parallel universe which creates two timelines in the series’ canon. This is quite a clever concept; it means that the same characters can appear in new Star Trek movies without shitting on the continuity of the previous shows and films.

What I like most about this film is the chemistry between the characters – reminiscent of the love-hate relationship between Luke, Han and Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, or even the cast of the Indiana Jones series. There’s nothing like a dynamite combination of tight scripting, stylish direction and stand out performances to create a delicious character dynamic. Chuck in an exciting sci-fi plot, mouth watering action sequences and top of the line special effects, of which Abrams is a master, and you have yourself an orgasm.

It’s easy for a cynic to pick apart this film to a molecular level, but if you’re young at heart like I am then you’re in for a slice of cherry pie…with cream.

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