Review: Star Trek

Chatting with the proprietor of my local shop before I boldly went to the cinema, I mentioned that I was going to see Star Trek, paused, and then blurted out, ‘But I’m not a geek!’*. The success of this film is that you don’t have speak Klingon to enjoy it, it’s just a movie that looks good and feels fun.

Like Batman Begins and Superman Returns before it, the intention is to rebuild a franchise by going back to before the beginning. This is technically Star Trek 11, but it starts before the original TV series began, with the original crew of the Starship USS Enterprise gathering together for the first time.

Therein lies the film’s first challenge: new actors playing old characters. Die-hard fans might disagree but I felt that all the key parts were played well. Kirk (Chris Pine) can both give and take a punch, and is simultaneously likeable and obnoxious. As with all the cast (with the possible exception of Zachary Quinto’s Spock but certainly including the underused Eric Bana's Nero), his character is still only skin-deep. This is a little frustrating but there will no doubt be more to come from this series.

Star Trek is a reboot and an homage. There are plenty of references to the original source material, with numerous in-jokes (apparently), a suggestion of 1960’s style in the uniforms, B-movie soundtrack references, the death of someone wearing a red uniform, and even the appearance of one of the original cast. His inclusion is explained by a classic Star Trek plot device, time travel, which is accepted almost immediately by the everyone in the film. This doesn’t save the plot expositions in the middle act from slowing the pace down for a while but either side of it are some good action sequences, so all is forgiven. The action isn’t memorable so much for the thrills it provides but for the look achieved: there are some beautifully-composed shots which recall the visual feel of Sunshine. It’s also impossible not to be reminded of Star Wars, with dogfights in space, scenes set in numerous believable ‘worlds’, and the inclusion of some rather unnecessary aliens.

It was enjoyable to watch a film rated 12A and not spend your time thinking, ‘How on earth did they consider this suitable for 12 year-olds?!’ This has nothing of The Dark Knight’s psychological horror or King Kong’s violence.

The one thing that tweaked me was the use of Spock as a justification of western emotionalism. Half-human, half-Vulcan (the purveyors of perfect logic), he spends the film wrestling between following his heart or his head. As the film concludes he is told, “Put aside what is logical, do what feels right.” This endorsement of a bankrupt moral philosophy is frustrating for those of us who believe that right living should include both objective truth and personal circumstances.

The film ends with the crew preparing for their next adventure and the sound of the twinkling hope of the original series’ musical introduction and monologue. It looks like Star Trek will live long, and prosper.

* A claim that would be strongly contested by many close to me. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be, ‘I’m not a Trekkie’.