Review: “Star Trek: IMAX”

May 8, 2009 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Forget Wolverine, this is how to start the summer.  Star Trek takes a stagnant franchise and makes it feel fresh, new, and most importantly, fun.  J.J. Abrams and crew have pulled off the seemingly impossible: make new fans flock to a Trek movie, which is something I have actually never done (I’m a Star Wars nerd myself).  The quality of the previous films is so shoddy, with the exception of a few, I usually prefer to watch any of the Star Wars prequels over them (at least with that other franchise, I know my mind will be blown by the visuals).

Star Trek goes back to its origins and tells the story of how Kirk became Kirk and how the U.S.S. Enterprise became the flagship of the fledgling Federation.  I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say there is some messing with the timeline, thus creating a brand new ‘Star Trek’ universe.  Basically, a mysterious ship, the Narada, captained by a Romulan named Nero appears from an electrical storm out in space, then begins to destroy a Federation ship, the Kelvin, investigating the disturbance.  Aboard the ship is a pregnant Winona Kirk and husband George, the 2nd-in-command.  Winona eventually gives birth to son James, and, well, the rest is history.

...to boldly go where no man has gone before...

...to boldly go where no man has gone before...

What I find interesting about the movie is that, while the characters of the original series are here, this story is really about Kirk (Chris Pine) and the half-Vulcan-half-human Spock (Sylar…I mean Zachary Quinto).  The two start out as rivals, then eventually become friends, sharing a mutual respect for each other.  The other cast is fine, especially the great Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Pike, Karl Urban as “Bones” McCoy, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott.  These characters served as the emotional anchor for a story that, to me, was a really flashy, big-budgeted TV pilot.

"Ok, hear me out. This is what we want for 'Harold and Kumar 3'..."

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie immensely.  I just found the overall ‘punch’ of the story lacking.  The characters are what made this movie good.  Unlike last week’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this movie didn’t pile on the characters like they were going out of style.  Each character had a specific job, and only that character could do that job.  Plus, it was fun to watch the characters do or say their ‘signature lines’.

From left to right: Chekov, Kirk, Scotty, Bones, Sulu, Uhura

The only person I had any issue with was Eric Bana as Nero.  I like Bana, I think he’s a great actor who’s done some great work.  Here, he plays Nero like a one-dimensional villain.  Sure, they establish a backstory for him, but in the end, he’s like a villain from the show.  I know it’s unfair to compare him to Heath Ledger, but if you’re going to be a fantasy villain, Ledger’s performance is the benchmark.  As much fun as I had watching this, Nero and his motivation acted as slightly dead-weight to the story.  Whenever they cut to the badguys, I wanted them to go back and show me more things blowing up.

Oh, and there were a few times where I didn’t ‘buy’ some of the plot points, like Spock relinquishing command to Kirk when Kirk isn’t supposed to even be on the ship at that time, and no one seems to care.  And how it’s only Kirk and Spock that infiltrate the Narada when I would’ve sent way more than just two guys.

The CG wizardry here is top-notch.  I’d be shocked if this doesn’t earn an Oscar nom next year.  This is one of those movies you know is going to look good in HD.  If you can, watch this in IMAX; there aren’t any IMAX-specific scenes, but the sheer spectacle of this film warrants the viewing on as big a screen as possible.  On top of that, the sound design is so good, you’ll want to hear it on the best speaker systems available.  Also, Michael Giacchino’s score suits the movie nicely and really keeps the action moving with bombast.  Trekkies will notice a nod to the original theme at the end.

Overall, this is a hell of a ride.  Abrams does a fantastic job handling the action scenes as well as the more dramatic parts.  Star Trek is a successful reboot of the series and just might make a Trekkie out of me.

8.5/10

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s something I shot at WonderCon a few months back.  I posted it earlier, but I figure it’s appropriate to re-post again here.

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Revew: “House of the Dead: Overkill” “Parks and Recreations” Star Rails Against IMAX

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