J.J. Abrams :: USA :: 2009 :: 2h08
The film opens with a dramatic scene of a man who sacrifices his life to save his ship’s crew, including his wife and son. The son grows up in the countryside with a reckless streak and a craving for adrenaline. This is the young James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine). In parallel, we see the young Spock grow up, caught between the love of his mother and the demands of the culture of his rational Vulcan father. Both gifted youngsters end up on the starship Enterprise, to face a vengeful Romulan who lashes out around him in an uncontrollable anger, unfortunately for all, with a huge ship and heavy weaponry.
Although the introduction is too emotionally heavy to suit the rest, we are quickly swept along in a visually stunning spectacle. The special effects and sounds are, almost without exception, worth the ride all by themselves. You will see the Enterprise in building, huge explosions, the impressive Romulan ship and its obscurely watery insides. Besides the space related effects, the Romulans themselves look like evil gang members and are tattooed like Maoris’ evil brothers to top it up. There is no mistaking who the good guys and who the bad guys are!
It is perhaps peculiar to remind yourself how far removed the film is from the original series, which was much more scientifically realistic and toyed with philosophical existential questions. There are no big questions left to ask here, and the science at times is awful. I am sure you can all forgive starships shooting into warp with a bang for cinematographic effect, but flying away from black holes on engine power, not to mention the creation of them at will… or their impossible use as worm holes? But essentially, for the entertainment that it is, does it matter?
And what about the strange plot holes scattered around a film with an already weak story line? Why do relatively advanced civilizations (like Earth and Vulcan) not have any planetary defenses? Why was the young Kirk, who was suspended, promoted to 2nd in command by the captain, when surely, there would have already been a capable officer in that role? Why build a spaceship in the desert of Iowa if it is parked at a space station later on? How does a Romulan mining ship become so heavily armed? I think we could whine about quite some choices made in the plot (or in Chekov’s accent), but mostly it is there for one good reason: speed. The movie keeps up its energetic slalom skiing pace partly by swerving around plot holes and by making plot jumps (- warp is almost a teleport in this Star Trek). Curiously enough, this is not regrettable, the new Star Trek does this with a bang! (And, the James Bond franchise please take note: only one noticeable product placement -Nokia- in the entire film.)