So, I finally got around to watching Star Trek (2009) this week. I have to say, I am loving the re-imagining of the series. JJ Abrams (Lost/Fringe/ MI: III) did a great job rejuvenating the franchise, after 10 films in the series.
I wasn’t a Trekkie growing up, but I am a general sci-fi lover and like many people, I have seen episodes here and there; particularly, TNG. I wasn’t raised on the original but am aware of its popularity.
Anyway, I like the new cast and especially liked Zachary Quinto’s Spock (though I can’t help but think of his creepy character Sylar from Heroes). In the Original Series (TOS), Spock was a secondary character to Kirk, but the new movie(2009) has put him firmly as his equal which has paid off. Spock was always the more interesting of the two characters. A half-Vulcan half-Human hybrid whose inner battles are a result of the struggle between his logical Vulcan nature and his emotional human needs. In Star Trek (2009), Abrams has managed to make this struggle explicit, a departure from the original series, in which Spock remained a very introverted and dutiful Vulcan who rarely expressed emotions.
What Abrams has done so brilliantly is to take that which was implicit in the original series and make it explicit in the new movie, while kicking up the pace of the storyline. Spock’s battle with his two bloodlines is put on display, making him more human and more sympathetic. Also made explicit is the relationship between Spock and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, which has become romantic, whereas in TOS it was merely flirtatious.
Star Trek (2009) takes place in an alternate timeline, brought on by a renegade Romulan named Nero, on mission of vengeance against the Federation in general and Spock in particular. In this timeline, Captain Kirk’s father didn’t live to see him become a Federation officer and he wasn’t always the captain; in fact, Spock was the ‘logical’ captain, and it’s only through inciting Spock to anger and forcing him into “emotional compromise” that Kirk becomes the captain.
In ST (2009), Kirk isn’t the debonair and ‘cool’ leading man/hero who gets the girl (Uhura)of the original series, and many fans are angry that he has been compromised (or humbled) in an effort to make Spock, the nerd, the hero. Kirk is a troubled and impulsive, maybe even cocky young man, who gets beaten down at least three different times, once by Spock, to whom he loses Uhura. Kirk goes on to become the captain, but somehow it seems undeserved or worse, unimportant.
The secondary characters do get more face time and more depth, which I was pleased to see. Zoe Saldana is a strong-minded Uhura, John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu does more than steer the ship; he fights, too. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott and Pavel Chekhov, played by a comical Anton Yelchin, who’s really Russian by the way, provide humor to break the tension in the movie that prevents it from taking itself too seriously.
So, of course the re-imagined alternate timeline sets the potential for sequels, the first of which is scheduled for 2012.