Monday, May 11, 2009


Without ever having watched a full episiode of Felicity or Alias or Lost, I am now a certified fan of J.J. Abrams. Because his Star Trek movie totally rocked my world.

My sibs and I are die-hard Trekkers, so we were both excited and apprehensive about the release of Abrams' reworking of Star Trek. After all, this was sacred ground he was treading upon: the back story of James T. Kirk and the crew of the first USS Enterprise. Though Star Trek: The Next Generation will always be my favorite Trek series, the "original" series starring William Shatner was the one that started it all, and is both a TV classic and the forebear of a cultural phenomenon. If Abrams screwed this up, it would be unpardonable (not to mention dangerous, as he might get lynched by hordes of angry Trekkers schooled in the art of Klingon hand combat).

But just as Christopher Nolan blew everyone away with his new and improved Batman, Abrams surpasses all expectations and delivers a prequel that does not only do justice to the brainchild of Trek creator Gene Rodenberry, but also improves on it, making it more sophisticated and throwing in some new twists, all the while staying faithful to the soul of Star Trek. With this movie, Abrams introduces Star Trek to a whole new generation of viewers, and now suddenly, being a Trekker seems... cool.

The brilliance of Abrams' Star Trek is how it pleases and appeases old fans, and at the same time appeals to an audience unfamiliar with the Trek universe (or as Tatot wittily put it, "This version of Star Trek is not alienating at all.
"). I loved every minute and every aspect of the movie, from the flawless, eye-popping CGI effects (shown off to maximum effect in IMAX) to the convoluted time-space continuum-bending plot that made sense as only a Star Trek storyline can. The opening sequence alone was so kick-ass that when the main title rolled across the screen right afterward, I confess (without shame) that tears sprang to my eyes out of sheer kilig. Throughout the movie, I got goosebumps as familiar characters with new faces were introduced, smiled and laughed as old catch phrases were spoken ("I'm giving her all she's got Cap'n!"), and suppressed squeals of geeky giddiness as Leonard Nimoy (with distracting dentures) made his appearance as the older Spock, the same role that was his claim to fame decades ago.

Because the characters of Star Trek such as Spock are pop culture icons by themselves, getting the right actors to play them is crucial, and happily the casting director of this movie nailed it. Chris Pine brought the right amount of brash arrogance balanced with comic charm as the future Captain Kirk. Karl Urban (remember Eomer, the long-haired horseman from The Lord of the Rings? he was that dude) surprised me by being a spot-on Leonard "Bones" McCoy, capturing the doctor's trademark cantankerousness and wry humor. Zoe Saldana breathed new spirit into the character of Uhura, transforming her from token female crew member to fierce, intelligent woman. John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg were all adorable as Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty, respectively, particularly Yelchin who hammed it up by laying on the Russian accent nice and thick.

Above all, I was most impressed with Zachary Quinto (Heroes fans know him better as the malevolent Sylar) and his turn as young Spock. With all due respect to the great Nimoy, I have never seen Spock's internal struggle (between his Vulcan logic and human emotions) played out so effectively as with Quinto's controlled and layered performance. Moreover, Quinto generates an intensity that I find weirdly hot. In my opinion, he outsmoldered and outsexied Pine, who's supposed to be playing the ladies' man of the crew. I never thought the pointy ears and bowl haircut would do it for me, but I now have a crush on Spock!

The chemistry among the cast is unmistakable, which makes me hope this will not be the last time I see the ensemble together on the bridge of the Enterprise. And I definitely want J.J. Abrams at the helm of the next Star Trek movie. Here is a director who respects his source material, understands his contemporary audience, and knows how to merge the past future with the present future to produce a well-shot, well-written, well-acted and well-directed science fiction film (that happens to be a crowd-pleasing box office smash as well). The guy's a frickin' genius. And may he live long and prosper.


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