Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 mins
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars before he got to do Star Wars.
After the critical failure of Star Trek: Nemesis (starring a young Tom Hardy) and the dying out of the various TV series’, Star Trek needed a kick up its arse to have a hope of staying relevant. After giving the Mission: Impossible series that very kick up the arse, J.J. Abrams came on to kind of reboot Star Trek’s film universe. This film show the origins of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto & Leonard Nimoy) and Bones (Karl Urban) among other Enterprise crew members as a wormhole travelling rogue Romulan ship Captained by Nemo (Eric Bana) sets out for revenge against his planet’s destruction in the future and ultimately splitting this timeline from the timeline of the original series, creating a rather clever alternate universe instead of a straight up reboot.
Now, there’s a reason I’m only doing this and Into Darkness leading up to Star Trek Beyond’s release and that’s because these are the only Trek films I’ve seen. I have seen the occasional episode of The Next Generation and the ones with Scott Bakula and Kate Mulgrew but none of the old movies and none of The Original Series. I do know some of the series tropes though and one of the most surprising things about this reboot upon rewatching was that it really is a Star Trek movie. Sure, you can call it a dumb, mass audience hungry studio film but it’s still got stuff like the enemy ship video calling the bridge of the Enterprise, red shirts dying and and moist Romulan ship interiors. It even has Leonard Nimoy, using the wormhole storytelling device to the highest of fan service degrees.
The film sets up all the characters nicely and that’s the main goal of this film. Kirk isn’t the Captain for most of the film, in fact Spock is probably Captain for longer than Kirk. It’s all about building the characters and relationships among them and on that level it works for the most part, in my opinion. Chris Pine’s Kirk is the sleezy womaniser to a fault, Simon Pegg steals the movie as Scotty and even the smaller roles like John Cho’s Sulu and the late Anton Yelchin’s Chekov get their times to shine. The characters in this film are for the most part fantastic and the banter between Kirk and Bones (Karl Urban) is great. Just ignore the retconned origin of his nickname.
The character I wasn’t so sure about was Spock however. I understand this is an origin story for him and there’s a lot of development in his character but I find the logic in the handling of this character is ironically off. He feels more like the villain of the film than Nemo at times with his time as Captain of the Enterprise feeling like a tyrannical dictatorship. I also don’t like the relationship he has with Uhura (Zoe Saldana). I feel like it was played for the shock moment you realise they are together but it doesn’t really work beyond that. The film presents no believable reasons why they should be together and it just feels very unnatural and underdeveloped, even after it’s revealed.
The film’s villain is also weak as Eric Bana is given nothing to do and simply shouts a lot. As this is more of an origin story, a weak villain is something that can be forgiven but this film in general isn’t too memorable. That’s it’s biggest fault in my mind. I’m writing this review about two hours after I just saw it again and I’m already forgetting things. I feel the issues with this film aren’t its merits as a Star Trek film but more as a film in general. It’s a fun film to watch, ignoring occasional issues in plot, but it’s not a film you’ll remember much from. Still, it is a solid starting point for the new Trek universe, and while Into Darkness really didn’t come out a success for die-hard fans, I feel Beyond will. This film sets up the universe with plenty of potential. On its own though, this is just good.
Summary: A slightly forgettable action movie, Star Trek 09 broadens the appeal but keeps the core tropes to set up a new universe that is hard not to be entertained by thanks to the charming cast and their fantastic chemistry.
Best Performance: Chris Pine
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%