The Verdict on the New STAR TREK

May 12, 2009

Paramount Pictures’ cash-cow STAR TREK franchise gets a much-needed, high-octane jolt with the global release of a re-imagined version of the Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, and Doctor McCoy story — directed by the same director who guided Tom Cruise through Mission Impossible: III. 

First in line at the IMAX

First in line at the IMAX

The studio put STAR TREK adventures on ice five years ago, after pulling the plug on the fifth TV show spawned from the original adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise, which first hit the airwaves on NBC back in 1966 at the height of the Apollo space program.  And while the new film is simply called STAR TREK, it is the 11th feature film in the series.  The first weekend box office take exceeded $76 million here in the United States– more than twice the highest opening weekend of any previous STAR TREK film.  In just three days, the film has already recouped half of its production cost and is predicted by studio executives to exceed $300 million by the time it runs its course.  One out of ten moviegoers saw STAR TREK this past weekend in an IMAX theatre and it set a record on those massive screens, generating more than $8 million in revenue just at IMAX.

STAR TREK opened in many countries weeks ago, seen on 5,000 screens outside the U.S. in 54 locations that have generated an additional $35 million.  A friend of mine from Germany told me this morning it is “cool” and that he loved it.  That’s music to the ears of studio executives, since STAR TREK has not always translated well overseas.

Written to delight both Trekkies and the non-initiated, the latest STAR TREK movie grabs you and never let’s go.  It tells the origins of the Enterprise crew, how Spock experienced prejudice on his home planet of Vulcan, what makes Dr. “Bones” McCoy so cranky, and why James T. Kirk’s has a reputation as an impulsive, wiseguy ladies’ man.  In between, we also learn more about what opens Uhura’s hailing frequencies and how this interstellar crew came to be.

You can imagine the difficulty of crafting a story that would at once fill in the blanks in these character’s history, respect the future tales filled with Klingons, Tribbles, and Vulcan mating rituals, and yet give the producers enough latitude to create a feature that anyone can enjoy.  And don’t forget the sequel to the prequel.  All the actors have signed up to do three films, and work is already underway on the script for the next one.

Well, STAR TREK director J.J. Abrams and his team have done the impossible! The film is a breathtaking romp through the early days of the Starfleet Academy graduates, and it is compelling theatre for both old and new fans.  The story fits like a missing puzzle piece in STAR TREK lore, but it also leaves a door open for hardcore fans who may quibble with this or that.  The new STAR TREK movie operates on an alternative timeline – the universe as it is changed by the bad guy Romulan who alters history.

Longtime Trekkies will laugh at all of the insider jokes, because we already know the punch lines from the original TV series – that Sulu likes swords, Chekov has trouble with English, Scotty is a miracle worker, and Kirk is perpetually horny. 

But the real secret of this exhilarating film is the way it engages with people who know nothing about Vulcans with pointed ears or phaser battles.  It’s a delight for the casual fans, and those who just want a great two-hour escape who may most enjoy seeing these familiar characters in a story that tells how they all met — and gives us some insight into their future adventures.

Rated PG-13 for eye-popping special effects with some violence and a randy scene or two with Captain Kirk (which is mild compared to what’s on TV.)

This is the kind of movie that the Trekkies like me will see over and over and over again.  But it’s also a film filled with a wonderful story, a moving tribute to how our parents do their best to bring us into this world, and a springboard to the future adventures of the Enterprise crew.

Space is the Final Frontier, and STAR TREK delivers the goods!


2 Responses to “The Verdict on the New STAR TREK”

  1. tom renk Says:

    what about the worm holes of logic? Spock had a time machine so he could determine re-determine events. How he immediately un-moroons himself when it fits the script. And the force required to bend gravity to jump out of a car speeding off a cliff. It is not logical.

  2. tom renk Says:

    A moment of logic.
    1) Spock piloted a time machine, therefore he could recreate his recreated timeline again, save both planets and his mother.
    2) Spock de-exhile’s himself immediately upon Kirk’s arrival.
    3) A child alters centrifugal force and gravity to jump from a speeding and falling car ?
    4) Kirk Sr. waits for the second and inevitable attack to abandon ship?
    5) etc.
    All Convenient Truths?

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