Star Trek, the 2009 reboot directed by J.J. Abrams, is among the best Star Trek movies in the franchise’s cinematic history.
For a few years there, the future for the franchise looked bleak. Following the box office and critical failure of Star Trek: Nemesis, a planned fifth Next Generation movie installment was scratched. Ratings plummeted quickly for Star Trek: Enterprise and the eighteen year franchise run on TV came to an end in 2005. Cut to 2007 and Paramount Pictures greenlit a new film to reinvigorate the franchise. We would have had four or five films by now but the death of Anton Yelchin certainly changes everything.
It’s been several years since I last rewatched the film. Maybe it’s because of Star Trek: Mission Chicago this weekend but I felt this need to rewatch the rebooted trilogy of films. I love sci-fi and it’s a lot of fun watching this cast come together and gel into place.
Creating an alternate timeline frees the new films up from having to stick to continuity. In this timeline, the death of George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) has a huge impact on James T. Kirk’s (Chris Pine) future. Without having his biological father around, Kirk more or less becomes a troublemaker. If not for an encounter with Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Kirk might never find his way on board the USS Enterprise. Sure, it takes Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) to sneak him on but the rest is history. Because of Nero’s (Eric Bana) issues with Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy), the younger Spock (Zachary Quinto) also witnesses the destruction of his home planet. This never happens in the original timeline so the entire continuity in the Kelvin timeline is free to do as filmmakers please.
Kirk and Spock are far from the friends that they become in the original timeline. They’re both competing with each other in the film and certainly in their own unique ways. In this film, the two of them couldn’t be more apart. Spock orders Kirk to be kicked off the Enterprise! Funny enough, this is how Kirk also encounters both Spock Prime and Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg). One by one, everything comes together to get the primary crew on board the Enterprise. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldaña), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) were already crew members on the ship. And yet, this initial mission is what will also bond them forever, for better or worse.
I mentioned the other day that I did not grow up a Star Trek fan. This film was my first real introduction to the franchise. Yes, it’s an alternate timeline but one ends up watching the original movies sooner than later. For me, that didn’t come until late 2009. The beauty of not growing up a Star Trek fan is that I can go into this movie as a novice and not nitpick about what does and doesn’t come over from the Prime Timeline. At some point, I’ll probably get around to watching the episodes but it’s a heavy time commitment.
Maybe it’s because of my background as a novice that I was able to appreciate and enjoy this grand adventure that J.J. Abrams and company are taking us on. Not only does the film serve as a reboot but I like that it is also an origin movie. It’s not an easy feat to do what this film does–we’re taking iconic characters previously portrayed by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Asking fans to watch a new film–with a small but important supporting role from Nimoy–is not an easy task. Much like their characters on screen, the franchise’s new cast members rise up to the challenge. Chris Pine manages to make the role of Kirk his own and again, it’s not an easy feat. Similarly, Zachary Quinto manages to honor the legacy left behind by the late Nimoy.
Leonard Nimoy could have said no. With how Star Trek: Generations starts, I can understand why it’s not William Shatner making an appearance in the movie. The appearance of Nimoy is what allows the film to be set up for this new Kelvin timeline. Because this is an entirely new timeline, it will not impact the previously seen events on screen. Think of it as a multiverse if you will.
The beauty of Star Trek is that you can go into this film without being required to watch the original series and movies. Doing so would certainly help when it comes to getting to know who is who but this is also an entirely new timeline. It’s been over 50 years since Gene Roddenberry created a franchise that is boldly going where no one has gone before. Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman, and company manage to live up to the legacy that was passed down to them and give us one of the best films in Star Trek history.
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
SCREENWRITERS: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
CAST: John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldaña, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, with Eric Bana and Leonard Nimoy
Paramount released Star Trek in theaters on May 8, 2009. Grade: 4.5/5
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