OK, I admit it. I’m a cinema snob. It’s not that I hate Hollywood or anything, but foreign films are more inventive and indie films have more heart and liking obscure films make you sound far more intelligent than you really are. Having said that though sometimes a big budget and a winning formula will reap amazing results.
However, Star Trek would seem like a daft thing to give the Hollywood treatment to. The Star Trek films has never made a lot of money at box office, remakes scare people away (well maybe just me) and taking a rabid legion of fans prized franchise, ditching the cast and replacing them and then completely updating everything. The franchise is built on dodgy set design, overly complicated plots and a general lack of action. J.J Abrams tackles this with a deft reboot that navigates the typical pitfalls and manages to deliver a proper action film.
Having said that the film not only works, but does everything fantastically well. It cleverly cuts off from the Star Trek lore with a time travel/alternate reality story, basically allowing it to introduce the ensemble in the most effective way without having to argue with the series. The cast is spot on, when I first saw the list I thought they were too . . . well young. This whole film has a youthful spin on itself though; the plot follows a very young version of the crew, starting all the way back from baby Kirk. The benefits of this are a real freshness and the ability to be damn sexy. Kirk lives up to his lothario image bedding babes, getting in fantastic fights and, in one so ridiculous it kinda works scenes, joy riding a mustang against the police to the Beastie Boys.
I have to praise the cinematography so much here as well. Everything is shiny and crisp, and while the lens flair is now a cliché, it gives the film both glamour and a documentary effect. Remember the way in Star Wars everything looked foreign and used and like it had a sense of place? Star Trek has that same excellent set design but this time shiny. The series was always very cool, about dashing people “Boldly going where no man had gone before” in their velour uniforms, flirting with one another around a cool deck with an awesome view. The films biggest achievement is picking up on the tone of the series and morphing it into a film properly. Abrams juggles serious drama with pinches of humour, deftly scattered around for maximum effect.
Science fiction has always been a setting, not a genre. I guess because of the expense and normally heady themes today Sci-fi is a very adult affair. This film is very different from the other sci-fi films in that it takes a more light-hearted look at space exploration; the retro, go anywhere, be cool feel that the 60’s swam in.
Thankfully this film made a lot of money and is absolutely prime for sequels, which does put it in the dubious position of rivalling Wrath of Kahn, but not only should you see this film but keep an eye out for the sequel sometime next year probably. Abrams last film, Super 8, looks very good. It may be too early, but I think I can compare this director to Steven Spielberg in that he creates films that are immensely enjoyable without being slushy. And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement I don’t know what is.