On Second Thought: “Star Trek (2009)”

Where would we be without reboots? Probably with much smaller audiences than we currently have, and studios making a lot less money. Originality might actually be reigning, but then again, people would first have to know that that film they’re seeing footage of is an original film, and is actually worth seeing. Since this will never become the norm, let’s just enjoy the fact that a reboot, for once, isn’t a totally missed opportunity. We get enough of those in any given year.

The Paramount Pictures film “Star Trek”, is an exciting reboot that takes something really old and makes it fresh and smart.

This action film stars John Cho (“Star Trek Byeond”, “House of Lies”), Ben Cross (“Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja”, “Viking Quest”), Bruce Greenwood (upcoming “Gold”, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”), Simon Pegg (“Star Trek Beyond”, “Ice Age: Collision Course”), Chris Pine (upcoming “Hell or High Water”, “Star Trek Beyond”), Zachary Quinto (upcoming films “Tallulah”, “Snowden”), Winona Ryder (“Stranger Things”, “Show Me a Hero”), Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek Beyond”, “Nina”), Karl Urban (upcoming “Pete’s Dragon (2016)”, “Star Trek Beyond”), Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek Beyond”, “Green Room”), Eric Bana (“The Finest Hours”, “Special Correspondents”), and Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek Into Darkness”, “Fringe”).

The film was directed by J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and written by Roberto Orci (“Matador”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) and Alex Kurtzman (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”).

The film originally opened on May 8, 2009. The film would go on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one; two BAFTA Awards; and six Saturn Awards, winning one.

It’s that time again folks, another sequel is opening in theaters. That break didn’t last long, and for me, with “Ghostbusters (2016)”, opening the previous weekend, it didn’t really feel like there was much of a break between the weeks with sequels coming out. Six weeks of sequels, followed by a few weeks with original films (and one reboot) really wasn’t enough. I’d say the only upside to this newest “Star Trek” film is that I get to finally rewatch the previous two films, which obviously starts with this one. It’s been ages. I was thinking about this film and the number of times I’ve seen it, and I think that number is no more than three. I remember seeing it in theaters, mainly because I know I have the ticket stub to prove it, but I can’t recall any other time I sat and watched the adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew of the Enterprise. Well, now that I have, I can see why I like this film enough, and why so many others do too.

It’s stylish. It’s fun. It’s sleek. It’s packed full of action! I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got the picture.

It’s everything a reboot of a franchise like this should be, but seldom is. It’s also, and this I’m just stating because it’s hard not to, a pretty simple film. It’s a reboot, but also largely an origins story. We don’t just join Pine’s Kirk fresh out of the Starfleet Academy and becoming part of a crew, we see him a bit as a child and before, and really get a feeling for who he is. There’s not a lot of catching up that needs to be done. The same goes for Quinto’s Spock. Then, as the film progresses bit by bit, the characters all wind up getting caught up in the film’s overall story.

While it’s all exciting to watch, there’s not a lot really being done here that makes it overly compelling. It’s just compelling enough. The best part of this film isn’t getting introduced to these classic characters, but in new forms, but that Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman wanted to throw in time travel, and allow them to really play with a franchise that’s so widely known. For me, a person who’s only sort of a fan, this definitely works! I don’t need to know all that much of what’s come before, which makes it easier to get into this new film and the franchise itself.

Even if this film does seem to have a paint by numbers storyline, it’s still an exciting one to sit through. There’s so much that brings this whole world to life, and if you’re like me, you weren’t really previously exposed to the other “Star Trek” iterations, and that’s okay. You don’t need to be. I must say, too, that I don’t think I could ever go back and watch any of the previous films or TV series. They’d just be bad. Painful and almost comical. The fact that I’m even watching these films, is enough of a win for me. It certainly says a lot.

But back to bringing this exciting world to life! There’s so much! The CGI, which I believe was done by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and other companies, were incredible to see. When watching, I couldn’t help but try and notice anything off. For a film that’s not yet 10 years old, I was already wondering how the effects had aged in the last several years. They still seem to hold up, and had me enjoying all the sequences in space or somewhere else not on Earth, where CGI was probably needed less.

The sets were also quite impeccable. The set just did what they needed to do and that was it. Because things moved so quickly, I couldn’t really get that feeling of wanting to explore, but I got the feeling that I was there. And I stayed there the entire time. Costumes, like with sets worked well, and so did the score.

And, of course, the action. All of it, brought to life and executed well, by many of the things listed above, helped keep me going. It was non stop and pretty damn original. I’d pretty much forgotten which sequences were in this film, and that just made it better for me. I was somewhat surprised. I also loved that it actually gave so many of the actors opportunities to do more than just sit in a chair, in a space ship and pretend. These various sequences got them out there!

While I can’t say enough about composer Michael Giacchino (upcoming films “The Book of Henry”, “Doctor Strange”), I must say I was surprised. I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would it works for the film, it really does. You get the excitement, the fun, the danger, plus the theme, but I was thinking beyond the score’s use in the film. I don’t think this is a score I’d listen to outside of the film, so I’m a little sad. Regardless, it was still the right type of score you needed for this film. Along with the other things I mentioned about what this score gave you, an epic feeling was there too.

Something that I was greatly surprised by, other than how the score wasn’t an instant favorite, is the level of human emotion reached. In so many ways, it’s helpful that the film starts out with us getting to know Kirk’s father, followed by young James T. Kirk and young Spock, but I hadn’t realized, that within such a short amount of time, you could be moved so much. Each of these emotional human moments, which affect a character or informs a character, gives you a very easy way in. I don’t know if using the word relatable is the best idea, but because of how much you get emotionally from this film, it makes this action film stand out more. I thought on it for a moment, and I can’t think of many action films that effectively move viewers with human drama. I actually felt something, as opposed to just spotting where it’s happening and how it’s affecting the characters. Maybe Orci and Kurtzman just got lucky with this script and the actors, but I’m grateful it worked.

Speaking of characters. While this film was largely about exploring Kirk and Spock, which if you hadn’t figured out yet, was done well and gave you more than just likable characters, there are some other characters. There’s Urban, Saldana, Cho, Pegg, the late Yelchin (it certainly was strange to watch this knowing he wouldn’t be in another past the most recent film), and so many others. Each of these characters is clearly defined, and you get to know a lot about them, but not even close to the levels that Pine and Quinto’s characters got.

Finding these characters likable wasn’t too hard. Understanding their decisions wasn’t difficult, even if, as you watched, didn’t fully agree. From this standpoint, the surface and almost superficial aspects of all the other characters is okay. As I learned whilst thinking about this film and writing this, and maybe it’s just my view on these characters, it’s got more to do with who they are as officers and as a fully functioning unit. In so many ways, especially now with this third film coming out, and everything before it, too be a little cliché, they’re family. How can they not be? It’s this notion that also gives me another way into each single character, and the film as a whole. If the film’s story’s stakes were ever actually high, and made you think these characters were in any real danger, then you might actually react the way one would expect when someone’s in danger or dies. There’s still a chance for this, but I doubt the writers or the studio executives will allows this. Just look at how little danger there is in the big Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Oh! Before I forget, a quick little paragraph. The comedy in this film, while not as funny this time, is still there. It’s evident and it works. It offers up a good balance to some of the heavier moments and all the action. It also shows what happens when characters make choice on the fly, which is also quite telling about who they are. They each may be brilliant in one way or another, but can still manage to make mistakes that result in something slightly funny.

And, lastly, because it wouldn’t be a piece on something Abrams had a hand in making, let’s talk about the Easter egg’s that were present! I’ve said numerous time, and will probably continue to say so, but I can’t get enough of Abrams. He’s just so brilliant and it’s why I’ve seen just about every single thing he’s done, either as a creator, director, or an executive producer through his company Bad Robot Productions. It’s why I can pick up and giggle at little references to things from his previous projects, that now are running gags and appear in most of his films.It’s only a few things, and usually at least one pops up.

This film had three. One of the Starfleet ships is called the USS Kelvin, which is the last name of Abrams’ grandfather. Another is a drink order made by Saldana. She orders a Slusho something, and while the actual name of the drink isn’t important, the word Slusho is. It pops up from time to time, but first showed up in early episodes of Abrams’ TV series “Alias”. The last once, which I have a deep love for, for no clear reason, isthe number 47 reference. In this case, Saldana (I think. Oops, should’ve paid more attention), says in part, “…47 ships.” Regardless of what she’s referring to, it’s still the number 47. This one again goes back to the series “Alias”, but unlike with Slusho, it played a big part in the series.

Rebooting film franchises is all the rage, which may be great once the film arrives, but can often be seen for what it really is. A quick cash grab by a given studio. Instead of green lighting big films, that tell many dynamic, complex, and diverse stories, let’s just go back and see what older property can be brought to life for people largely not asking for it. Sometimes, like with this film and its sequels, it pays off, but other times, it flops so hard. You can only be lazy for so long. That same sentiment applies to audiences too. The same ones that complain, a few times a year, for better films, can’t be bothered to actually go and see the original and high quality films that are put out. They’d rather stick with what’s easy, already known, and been done to death countless times before. I don’t know which side will cave first, if at all, but if one doesn’t, then, in a few years, we’ll be seeing a reboot this rebooted franchise and it won’t be for the better.


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