Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek (poster)
Directed by J.J. Abrams

There is consensus among film critics that many remakes in the last couple of years have influenced the originality in movies way too negatively. However, it’s safe to state that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek belongs to the most successful Hollywood remakes ever made. Not only has the director given an entirely new dimension to the franchise, he’s also opened it up to a wider audience. Now, fans of the original series, the real Trekkies, as well as fans from the younger generations can rejoice at the premise of Star Trek which optimistically brings its known characters once again on a journey of a lifetime.

Most noticeably known for television series like LOST and ALias, Abrams has been able to gather a solid number of followers over the years. His style is a constant factor in all of his works, whether he was a director or producer: the abundant use of mystery injected in the main plot is a remnant from his days in the world of television. Moreover, there is a certain feel to any Abrams movie which sets the tone immediately. Same goes for Star Trek. 

Now I’m not a Trekkie by all means. In fact I was not even aware of what the story was leading up to and it is quite possible that I did not get all the references. Hence I found Abrams decision to start everything from the beginning quite a wise choice. Portraying Kirk and Spock as two young men in two juxtaposing worlds was a clever technique in developing two characters who are vitally important in understanding the essence of the franchise.

The acting was quite okay for a sci-fi movie. Don’t get me wrong though: the Star Trek franchise has known many actors who have brought life to the crew and world of the U.S.S Enterprise. One might think that it would be too difficult for any new actor to add something new, but the truth lies far away from that. Chris Pine’s realization of the enigmatic and charming Kirk gave a modern touch to the protagonist’s personal struggles. The rest of the cast, including Karl Urban as Bones, Zachary Quinto as Spock and Zoe Saldana as Uhura, brought a familiar feeling to the Star Trek family and made me feel as if they’d been around since the earliest Star Trek productions.

The film gives a clear cut interest in developing the relationship between Spock and Kirk, but in that process does not forget the other characters. Productions that feature many different characters could learn from this well-balanced focus from Star Trek. The story stays gripping, because with so many characters around, no one is sure which one is going to survive. This healthy dose of mystery is combined with an optimistic outlook achieved through the lighter tones of the film (partly thanks to Karl Urban’s hilarious portrayal of Bones).

While my criticism on this film reaches as far as one aspect, it is after all the most important one. The film’s narrative is an illogical blend of a villainous character avenging his home planet and, there it comes, time travel. I have always had an aversion to films using time travel as a plot device (like Looper), because it creates unexplainable notions of a rather enticing story. There is this urge to make the Star Trek franchise as real as possible, but then all hope is lost when the villain of the story Nero (Eric Bana) has planned to exact his revenge on Spock by using time travel. That’s just sci-fi overkill and consequently turned the ending of the movie into a ridiculous misfit.

Nevertheless, Star Trek‘s character development and compelling adventurous storyline had me interested at once. Coming from a true fan of the Star Wars franchise and considering all the fallacies which Trekkies have most definitely been able to recognize, Abram’s Star Trek has laid a solid foundation for a new series… to boldly go where no man has ever gone before.


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20 thoughts on “Star Trek (2009)

  1. Nice review Niejan. It’s the Star Trek movie all fans and geeks wanted, and it never ceased to deliver the fun, the excitement, or the humor. Basically, it was just an all around wonderful summer blockbuster that I will always have fond memories of.

    • Thanks Dan. I especially loved the humor conveyed by Bones! Karl Urban put down an exceptionally good performance and his interaction with Chris Pine’s Kirk was great fun.

  2. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of the older series and it bored me to death – but I adore Abrams films! Though – the time travel was an overkill, I do agree. Lovely review, brought the memory of this first film back again 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Elina. Abrams is a real genius. In the process of writing the screenplay, he gathered the diehard Trekkie professionals as well as rookies to make the film work its magic for any generation. I guess it worked!

  3. Agreed, both on the film’s general merits and its flaws. I would likely grade a bit lower, but that’s just reflective that I weigh the flaws a bit more heavily than you do.

    Point is. I agree.

    • Glad you agree with me on this one. This film was my first experience with Star Trek ever. I had always dismissed the franchise for being a cheap rendition of Star Wars (which was a wrong judgement from my part). Yet I had no regrets for watching this version: it made me even look forward to the second Star Trek film by Abrams this year.

    • Thanks. I got a lot of the references during my second watching, but I also started questioning the whole Nero/time travel revenge plot. It works both ways, but it didn’t change my overall view on the film anyhow.

  4. Niejan, loving this review! You’re articulately captured everything that’s right about the movie. Notably, the balance of multiple characters. This review reminds me why it’s that much sadder that the sequel seems to have abandoned all these finely well thought out nuances that made this movie so great.

    Regarding the Time Travel: I feel like it was a plot device that they used to break away from the original franchise, and build a loop hole into the story that ceased any comparisons to the original. All the differences and alterations to the original franchise could be explained away with the Time Travel story. Especially given how that specific fact was addressed IN the story itself.

    • Thank you Shah! I think a show like Game of Thrones could learn a thing or two from this balance of characters, but then again that’s another medium. I have watched the sequel, Into Darkness, over the summer and I must admit that Abrams could have done a lot better on that one. Your explanation on the time travel sounds excellent and it actually makes sense!

  5. Pingback: Movie Review: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013) : Blank Page Beatdown

  6. Good review. I wasn’t really taken by Star Trek but Abrams sure knows how to market a movie. I think that’s his strength – he should produce movies but give the directing reins to others more capable.

    • Thanks Dan. Abrams as a producer is definitely a way better combo than Abrams as director. The marketing around Star Trek was huge and only Abrams could pull off such things.

  7. I was a Trekkie: I watched the original TV show until they stopped making it. I didn’t like the first movie; but my husband and I loved numbers 2, 3 and 4. After that – nothing. I never watched anything of the next generation. It wasn’t the same at all. Not saying it wasn’t good – just that it was … totally something else. No-one who wasn’t a Trekkie can imagine the feelings generated by seeing Leonard Nimoy as an old man … Such utter sorrow for one’s younger days … such regret that these people can never come again,

    • Glad to see you stopping by. I’ve always been curious on how original Trekkies would feel about the new generation of Star Trek films. Leonard Nimoy surely is irreplaceable and I was very happy to see him return as Spock Prime.

  8. Great review! I wasn’t a Trekkie at all but Abrams has certainly given me a reason to watch. His films have made the franchise accessible to newcomers and this can only be a good thing! More reboots need to be like this.

  9. I was very disappointed in Star Trek: Into Darkness because of this great setup they did with Star Trek 2009. I mean, it’s the perfect opportunity to build something new, but Into Darkness is just a rehash of old things and a glorified homage. This is a great review and reminded me why I saw Star Trek 2009 so many times in the theatres.

    • Thank you. I feel the same about Into Darkness… although I must admit that I really enjoyed the acting displayed, especially from Cumberbatch. 🙂

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