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star trek

For the last seven years fans have been wondering how we’d recover from the disappointment that was Star Trek: Nemesis, the film that broke the even/odd scheme we’d come to rely on. For everything that J.J. Abrams has done right in Hollywood, had he done enough to take over one of the oldest and most beloved franchises in the industry? Could the writers, actors, director, and studio withstand the undying fanatical cries from the devoted fanbase? Could Star Trek actually become relevant again after a prematurely canceled prequel series and two straight disappointing Next Generation-headlining films? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, a resounding “Yes” as the forty-plus year old franchise is reborn and revitalized under the direction of a capable director, excellent casting, and an excellent story.

All the gushing aside, Star Trek isn’t a perfect film, but its many hits almost completely negate its misses. For every gaping plot hole we get a shout out to the original series or a great line of dialog. For every canon-bucking event, we get pitch-perfect casting and an excellent rapport between characters we’ve known and loved.

The most daunting aspect of the new film would be how to fill the shoe’s of some of sci-fi’s most iconic characters including, but not limited to, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc. The entire cast is fleshed out well with even smaller supporting rolls like Chekov (Anton Yelchin) getting enough meat and potatoes for the audience to fully understand the character. Enough can’t be said for Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, he isn’t trying to fully emulate the late DeForest Kelly, but his perfect delivery of classic lines, demeanor, hatred for the “green-blooded hobgoblin” all sink in so well with the audience.

A lot has been said about Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto’s performance as the emotionally troubled, younger Spock works so well in the middle-stages of the film as a dramatic event really tests the half human/half Vulcan. Pine’s performance as the womanizing, eff-authority Kirk is just what you would imagine. We already know Kirk has a history of disregarding orders from a superior (as seen in Star Trek III), and it becomes fully realized how very good he is when we finally see his solution to the Kobayashi Maru test.

The rest of the cast is filled out nicely with Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and the stunning Zoe Saldana as Uhura. A welcome addition to the cast is Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike who’s character is fleshed out nicely compared to what we knew of him from the original, unaired Pilot, and subsequent TOS episode “The Menagerie”.

The aforementioned script issues and underwhelming menace don’t detract too much from the overall picture, however keen observers will blow open the fallacies and breakdown of basic logical thinking, but, honestly, you’re having too much fun to care. Even after repeated viewings you’re more than willing to let a few things slide as you gear up for the next set-piece, the next joke, the next overwhelmingly cool CGI shot that modernizes and energizes the film.

The thing about Star Trek is its exciting, from the moment it begins with Nero’s (Eric Bana) attack on the USS Kelvin, to the closing scene of the Enterprise warping away, its never tedius, the two hour runtime flows along, never ebbing, always keeping your eyes glued to the lens-flared screen and still provoking you like no Star Trek film has since The Undiscovered Country, or possibly First Contact.

It seems almost generic these days to call Star Trek a hip reboot of a successful franchise, and if there’s a less cliché term, please use it, but Abrams Star Trek adventure is just that, an adventure, a continuing voyage of the wagon train to the stars where heroes do exist, enemies lurk, and the faithful crew of the Federation flagship keeps us protected, even 40 years later.

Everyone knows the way things work with Star Trek movies. With the notable exception of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, all odd ones are mediocre, while the evens really shine. Even after the original crew moved on and made way for “The Next Generation” on the big screen, things have always been kept a constant. Regardless of how I, or any other critic rate this movie, the fans will still see it, and it will be the fans who tell the studio just how good or bad this movie is. A franchise’s fans are it’s biggest critics, and in the case of Star Trek, the critics reign supreme.

Many film critics with preview screenings, something the studios haven’t decided to let our fine website in on, had called the movie “awful,” “tedious,” and “stupid.” Furthermore, they said that Nemesis broke the “even/odd” streak that had been in place since the late 1970s. Well in my own opinion, and you can take what you want from that, Star Trek: Nemesis wasn’t the greatest Trek movie to ever be released, but it is far from the worst, and I found it entirely enjoyable from start to finish..

Star Trek: Nemesis is billed as the final journey of the Next Generation crew which essentially are broken up at the end of the movie, all for different reasons. Captain Riker (Jonathon Frakes) has been promoted (finally) and given command of the USS Titan, and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), his new wife, will accompany him, other members of the crew are not present, but for means of keeping this review free from major spoilers I won’t get into that part.

The storyline centers around the Romulan empire, whom share a solar system with the Remans, a goblin-like race that are forced to work in the Dylithium Mines of Remus under a coat of darkness as one side of the planet always faces the sun. When the Federation is given a call by the new Romulan Praetor asking for a long-sought peace treaty, Starfleet is quick to act and send it its most experienced crew, and their captain. Once at Romulus, the Enterprise and crew are given a look at a new massive battleship, the Scimitar, created by Shinzon (Tom Hardy). It is soon discovered that that Shinzon wants nothing of peace, and has created a weapon that can destroy life on a planet in a matter of minutes, so it is up to the Picard and company to foil this new “nemesis'” plan.

The movie takes on two different storylines, but they aren’t as they seem in the trailers. The first is the main one involving Shinzon who is actually the bi-product of a past Romulan exercise to get an agent into the Federation. Shinzon is a clone of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), but in order for him to take over Picard’s position in Starfleet, his aging would have to be vastly accelerated, therefore he suffers from a debilitating ailment that calls for him to transfuse his DNA with that of the real Picard’s.

The second storyline, is more of a minor subplot till you get to the end of the film. The crew discovers an android on a remote planet that has been disassembled and scattered. This gives Picard, Data, and Worf a chance to try out Starfleet’s latest toy in the form of a dune-buggy mounted with particle weapons, the chances of finding one at your local dealer are slim to none at this point, but who knows what time will tell. The android, dubbed B4 (as a play on words), is a primitive prototype of Data (Brent Spiner). Since Data has evolved through the course of his 15 years on the Enterprise he is more advanced in cognitive functions than B4, but tries to make the new android learn about his world by transferring his memories.

The movies storyline itself is very well done, and series-rookie John Logan (Gladiator) has done a number on fleshing out the story and having the characters play well off of each other. The excellent rapport between the senior staff is very likable, and makes the movie enjoyable by adding a bit of humor to it all. The movie’s beginning starts off slow and it muddles through the first hour until the Enterprise crew finally realizes what Shinzon’s plan is, then the movie kicks into high gear with one of the coolest space battle sequences you will ever seen on film. The battle involves the new Reman battle cruiser and the Enterprise which is dwarfed in size compared to the massive-cloaking vessel. The battle progresses and ends with the trailer-included starship collision that cripples both vessels. While this battle sequence is full of writing flaws, many of which we have found, it is still one of the most enjoyable parts of the film.

The problem that I found with the movie was it felt cut-up. It was made publicly available that director Stuart Baird was forced to cut nearly a hour from the film to make it fit Paramount’s two hour run time, and while the movie never feels like a clip-show it still feels like there was a lot missing, most notably Shinzon’s back-story. Another notable problem was the fact that many characters are reduced to no more than a few lines. Doctor Crusher (Gates McFadden), Lt. Commander La Forge (LeVar Burton), and Worf (Michael Dorn) are reduced to bit characters and only used sparingly throughout the entire movie.

I felt that some critics were too harsh on the film, it proved to be an enjoyable experience that got me in the Star Trek mood. I felt it was especially appropriate to include characters from other series (Admiral Janeway gets the ball rolling), but with the series trying to break the Star Trek mold it created a great amount of technical flaws and plot inconsistencies. While the villain will never be the nemesis that Khan was to Kirk, the movie pays for itself with one of the coolest space battles you will ever see. So after seeing the latest “even” movie to turn out well, what does Star Trek XI have in store for us? Only time will tell, and hopefully, it isn’t a great amount of time.