Wednesday 25 November 2009

Star Trek

I am no Trekkie but the tone of surprise with which people told me that this re-invigoration of the franchise from man of the moment JJ Abrams was really rather good had me intrigued enough to take a look. My plan to watch it at the IMAX in Birmingham when I was working up there for a couple of days was scotched when my employers had the temerity to take me out for dinner that evening. Babies and work have meant that I've had to wait for the DVD release, no substitute I know for the big-screen experience but it's still an enjoyable ride in your own living room. The previous film incarnations had done enough to bury any integrity in the series years ago but somehow they've managed to begin at the beginning, include enough references for the fans and enough character and bangs for the neutral to give the USS Enterprise a chance of a few more years of bold going.

The casting is excellent for a start (although they could be accused of simply applying the simple 'younger, prettier' rule), Chris Pine as Kirk starting out off the rails and building steadily into the captain he will become , settling into that famous chair (with an uncannily familar posture) only at the very end of the film. It is Zachary Quinto's Spock who seems to be the natural leader and the duelling that goes on between these two very different men is the backbone of the film. Each has their own conflict with themselves and their ancestry and it is that which they battle against as much as Eric Bana's snarling Nero. Oh and the new look Uhura has both of them and probably most of the male audience turning their heads too. I particularly enjoyed Karl Urban's grouchy 'Bones' and was steeling myself against what could have been a cringe-worthy turn as Scotty from Simon Pegg only to find myself chuckling away.

As the first film there was always bound to be a fair bit of exposition and the time-travelling plot wasn't nearly as ingenious or puzzling as I believe the storylines can be but it was nice to see a film that made space feel like a genuinely dangerous place, the vacuum that it is, rather than just threatening the tilting camera on the wobbling sets of old. The battle scenes and space travel are genuinely thrilling, which is just as well in a film which felt a tad long to me. The big bangs and SFX won't be enough on their own though to keep this re-animated corpse going. If the franchise can maintain the human-(and alien)-interest storylines and keep the brain-teaser factor high then they might just get away with it. Don't worry about that for the moment though, just watch it and have some fun, everyone in the cast seems to be.


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