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Review: Star Trek

Star Trek
Directed by J.J. Abrams

By Tony Sheppard
Capitol Weekly

I’ll open by cutting to the chase and saying that this is a neat movie, firing on all dilithium chambers and achieving everything I had hoped it would achieve, despite a host of hurdles to overcome.  So what about those hurdles… 

Star Trek has a back story that’s intimidating to say the least. One has to decide whether to stick to the original canon or branch off in a new direction and enrage a generation of fans. Or, in the case of Trekkies, a generation and a next generation of fans.

It’s now 40 years since the first TV series ended, and there have been six series, including an animated version, and 10 movies. Some of those projects have leapt off in different directions (“Star Trek: Voyager”) or gone back in time (“Star Trek: Enterprise”) in order to avoid conflicts with the mythology. So it was an ambitious plan to not only work within the existing setting, but to also with the original characters.

“Star Trek” tells the story of how those original characters came together as the crew of the Starship Enterprise. A lot of publicity has surrounded the choice of a fresh young cast to play the familiar names: James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg), Uhuru (Zoe Soldana), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), and Pavel Checkov (Anton Yelchin – whose accent impressed my Russian friend). The whole lineup is well chosen and successful, with each actor given the opportunity to pay homage to their respective predecessor and shine in their own right. It would be a neat pick for a Screen Actors Guild cast award.

This is a movie on the grand scale of summery blockbusters – with great special effects and all the pizzazz one might expect. But what makes it work as well as it does is that it’s a great exercise in writing. Without giving away the plot, the filmmakers have managed to respect the origins of the series, update it and give it a refreshing new lease on life, and also leave the door wide open to more films that still protect that history.

I mildly enjoyed “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” a week ago, but “Star Trek” is like an object lesson in how to tell a back story in a manner that pleases fans, old and new. George Lucas could learn a lesson or two from this one. The rest of us can just have a blast watching it. Set phasers—and opinions—to stun!

About the author

Tony Sheppard

Tony is a Professor at Sacramento State, Co-Director of the Sacramento Film & Music Festival and a long-time writer, primarily on topics related to film and the film industry. He is an active supporter of the local arts community, an amateur photographer, and has an interest in architecture and urban planning topics. He is currently designing a 595 sq.ft. house on a very small infill lot in Sacramento.

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