Carly at the Movies | Are you out of your Vulcan mind?

The brand new version of “Star Trek,” playing at every theater in the universe (except one little theater on the ninth moon of Saturn) turns out to be a big thrill for Trek fans and for everyone else – well, maybe they’re not sure where they went, but it was an exciting ride.

An online debate is already roaring (mostly atwixt Trekkers, of course) as to whether or not director J.J. Abrams has A) wonderfully revived, or B) completely destroyed the Star Trek franchise. Let them argue. The film – I saw it at an IMAX theater – is surely a breath of fresh air for a dormant series, and mostly works just fine for what should be a wide audience, including fans of roller coaster rides.

This is a prequel – a gimmick that doesn’t always work, but turns out to be lots of fun due to (mostly, again) excellent casting. It’s all about why and how the crew of the Enterprise got together, and fans of the ancient iconic original TV series will squirm with a warm but fake nostalgia when they meet the various crew members of our beloved space sailer.

Like any good adventure film it’s full of danger, bravado, derring-do, humor, and reckless heroes. Karl Urban, as a cranky young Dr. McCoy, has the funniest line in the movie, once demanding of Spock, “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?”

Urban as McCoy and Zachary Quinto (from TV’s “Heroes,” appropriately enough) as Spock are particularly good, along with Anton Yelchin (Chekov) and Simon Pegg (Scotty). Zoe Saldana plays a feisty Uhura and John Cho a more animated Sulu than we Trekkers are accustomed to. Eric Bana, by the by, takes on the hot dogging role of the villain in this one, with obvious relish.

Let’s see, have we left anyone out? Oh, yeah: James Tiberius Kirk, the Cap’n of the whole shebang. Well, I thought that young Chris Pine in this role was just adequate. Frankly, they’ll never find anyone to satisfactorily portray a young William Shatner until time machines are actually invented. There are plenty of young actors who could have done just as well, as far as I’m concerned.

The intricate (and familiar) plot provides plenty of swashbuckling, as per the original series, but we’re headed for a problem. Big screen technology makes hand-to-hand combat seem pretty unbelievable. It’s like trying to swallow it if modern soldiers jumped out of their cozy tanks and started whacking each other with sticks and stones. The production design has simply become too elaborate and grandiose to support fisticuffs.

Amidst all the action, there are real highlights. One smart move: we are never really able to see the true outline of Eric Bana’s alien warship, so our imagination makes it far more foreboding than it is. Another bright tidbit is the tribute to the Star Wars movies, with a brief scene taking place in a familiar-looking cantina. Too bad there’s no alien band in the background.

True Trekkers have probably already seen it a dozen times, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again on a small screen, after being blown away by the huge action on the gigantic IMAX screen. A little perspective is in order, whilst waiting for the already-announced sequel to the prequel.

Yep, most of us are looking forward to more character development by this young and energetic cast, and as for Chris Pine’s version of James T. Kirk – in the next script they need to add just a sprinkle of magic William Shatner dust. A pinch of Denny Crane ought to do it.

 

Column by Carl Larsen


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