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The previews for the new "Star Trek" film claim that this "is not your father's 'Star Trek' " and I have to agree, slightly. But that doesn't mean that old fans should avoid this immensely entertaining film. It is technically a reboot of the series, but there are enough little jokes and throwbacks to appease the older fans while embracing the new. Maybe hardcore fans will denounce it, but people like me (who have only a slight interest in the series) will love the comedy and constant action.
The film begins with James T. Kirk's father saving his passengers (including his newborn son) while he sacrifices himself to a Romulan madman (Eric Bana in a role that should've been expanded). We then see James as a troubled youth in Iowa alongside scenes with the half-human Spock as he battles with logic and emotion. That is really the main storyline here. Sure, there is a struggle that involves the fate of entire planets, but this is the story of the beginnings of a great friendship between Spock and Kirk. That aspect of the story is made much better with the foreknowledge of the original movies. We know that Spock and Kirk eventually become good friends, and that is what makes their tense early moments enjoyable. It's like the audience is in on a joke that the cast is unaware of.
That joke continues as each crew member is introduced. We know that "Bones" McCoy (played to perfection by Karl Urban) is a grizzled doctor who speaks his mind, so when he states his trademark line ("I'm a doctor, not a ...") we are waiting for it. Then you add Simon Pegg as Scotty (a perfect choice) and the comedy is amped up to a level not usually associated with "Star Trek." Should a "Star Trek" movie have multiple comedic moments? Some might shudder at the idea, but I thought the comedic aspect referenced the old movies aptly.
It's natural for Kirk, an arrogant ladies man, and Spock, a logical unemotional Vulcan, to clash in funny ways. "Star Trek" may be known for its lofty and even philosophical ideas, but it has really been a big, expensive summer movie waiting to happen all along.
Summer movies may be known for comedic relief, but they are also known for action, and this film does not disappoint. While the action might seem forced at times, it is always impressive. This film finds the balance between awesome visuals and entertaining action. You'll see a shot of a planet with spaceships moving slowly one minute, then a sword fight atop a futuristic drill the next.
The pace might be frantic for some, but you'll be entertained. And if you forget what just happened for a minute, you don't have time to dwell on it because an impressive new scene has already started. This movie is excellent at keeping you occupied long enough to embrace the fun moments while you forget the scenes that might not make sense.
But all of this couldn't work without the acting skills of the two leads. Chris Pine (Kirk) is a relative unknown who will quickly make a name for himself because he played the part of Kirk as if it was a brand new role. This is no William Shatner impression. Zachary Quinto (Spock) is in the same boat, though he had to follow more rules than Pine. Spock is a character that is required to act a certain way. Quinto does an admirable job as the emotionally troubled Vulcan. We don't get the sage from the older movies; we get a character that will eventually become that sage, which is much more interesting, in my opinion. It also helps that these two actors work well together in a plot that takes the audience's preconceptions (like the idea that Spock and Kirk are friends) and turns them upside down.
Finally, the style of the film should be addressed. J.J. Abrams, the director, has created a sci-fi look that may remind some of "2001" and "Star Wars," but still stands on its own legs. Some have complained that lens flares (when the camera seems to be pointed directly at a light source) are present in nearly every scene. That didn't bother me. In fact, that added to this movie's style. I will say that the constantly moving camera became annoying at times, but that is the only minor complaint I can think of for this visually arresting film.
Is this your father's "Star Trek?" No. It's everybody's.
Eric Harris of Cannelton is a movie buff and blogger who posts reviews of films at www.canneltoncritic.com.