RogerBW's Blog

Star Trek (2009) 30 March 2023

2009 science fiction, dir. J. J. Abrams, Chris Pine. Zachary Quinto: IMDb / allmovie. A franchise reboot, but yet another civilisation-scale threat.

Well, it's certainly a visual treat. Lens flare jokes aside, one can see what's happening, and it all makes visual sense - none of those blank expanses that result from filming a model from too close.

And some of the performances are pretty good: each of the principals was given a free choice of mannerisms to adopt from their predecessors in the role, and they do at least manage to look as if they're not just copying Nimoy as Spock or Nichols as Uhura. Sometimes they're not doing much at all, mind: Anton Yelchin as a painfully young Chekov (who shouldn't, canonically, be there from the start at all) just comes over as painfully young, and Chris Pine as Kirk – on whom the entire film is supposed to rest – just comes over as a cocky arse, much like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

But when it comes to the script, well, it's just another Kurtzman-Orci effort. They'd done Hercules and Xena, and the famously directionless Alias, and at this point had just started Fringe; they've been involved at a high level in every Trek film and TV series since this one except for Beyond. But while they can turn the handle and crank out yet another threat, and I suppose we should be grateful that they aren't eternally recycling villains from earlier incarnations the way Doctor Who did… well, great heroes need great villains, and this villain is dull. His wife died when his planet was destroyed (so did everyone else there but never mind them), and he blames the Federation for failing to prevent it (it's not at all clear why they failed to prevent it, unless the shockwave from a supernova travels unpredictably faster than light) so he's stolen a ship and jumped back in time to destroy the entire Federation, har har har. (Why does his crew go along with this plan?)

Start to poke it and it crumbles, and even very kinetic effects aren't enough to make me not poke it. Why is the everything-jammer mounted on the "drill", hanging down into planetary atmosphere, rather than on the well-protected ship that it's hanging from? Why can't that drill unit simply be shot from orbit, and before you answer remember that people can skydive onto it and shoot it with small arms. Why is Enterprise's engineering section so spacious, and why does most of it have to be taken up with pipes carrying huge masses of water at great speed? (I've been in warship engine rooms.) If you manage to distract me enough that I don't notice the problem until I'm thinking about it later, that's not good writing but you have at least done your job. This film doesn't even reach that level.

I'm not even talking about standard Trek rubbish like riding the wavefront of an explosion. Meh. And of course philosophy and characterisation more than the superficial go by the board when you have a feature fim budget and you have to appeal to the most stupid member of the film-watching and download-buying audience.

Many films are reasonable at providing disposable entertainment; this is just about one of them. Some of them rise to the level of actually giving the viewer something to think about as well, and more than most franchises Star Trek has often done a decent job of that; but this really isn't one of those films.

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  1. Posted by DrBob at 05:02pm on 30 March 2023

    I enjoyed this, especially Karl Urban channelling the spirit of Dr McCoy. But yeah, plot holes big enough to fly the Enterprise thru.

    Eric Bana: Bwah hah hah ha! We shall go back in time and destroy the Federation! His crew: Or we could go back in time and tell Mr Spock to set his alarm clock a couple of hours earlier? Which would save our planet!

    Perhaps his whole crew was secretly banging his wife, so they are all out to avenge her death? :-)

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