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Celebrating the Life

[Longhorn Review] Star Trek: The Movie (2009)

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: J. J. Abrams, Paramount Pictures, Star Trek — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:51 pm

By: J. J. Abrams

Star Trek

Over the last half decade, there has not been a better-known franchise
than that of Star Trek. Beginning in 1966, the characters of the USS Enterprise have
transitioned from television to feature films almost a dozen times. In the latest
installment directed and produced by J. J. Abrams, the audience is given the history
and development of two of the most recognizable characters in the series, Captain
James T. Kirk and Spock. Using his unique view on the series and the need to appease
hardcore Star Trek fans (“Trekkies”), Abrams effectively fuses the two styles to
create an entertaining interpretation of what might have taken place. The film shows
how the two came to be in their current positions in the Starfleet as well as how
their friendship formed through mutual experiences.

After opening with the birth of
the heroic Captain Kirk, the film begins to show how both he and Spock mature over
the years. The backstory explains how James is a rebellious youth with no true
father figure (his father died saving the USS Kelvin’s crew including James and his
mother) to emulate. This leads to multiple fights including one in a bar where
Captain Pike plants the idea that James should strive to be a righteous captain in
the Starfleet like his father. Meanwhile on the planet Vulcan, Spock is torn between
what his true identity is between a Vulcan and human (his father is a Vulcan and his
mother is human). Eventually, both choose the path of joining the Starfleet until
their ensuing paths cross. When comparing this first portion of the film, it is
obvious that Abrams’ habitual trait is to give the audience some backstory into the
characters. For example in both the film Armageddon and the television series Lost,
the characters’ past is made prevalent in order to allow the viewers to understand
the thought processes more thoroughly. Indeed, these insights make the film more
relatable because the audience is able to see why the characters have certain
personality traits.

Following both characters’ enrollment in the Starfleet, Abrams
shifts the focus of the film from the individual characters’ personalities into the
emerging friendship. The two might despise each other at first, but the film uses
the common motif of a shared enemy to force them to put aside their differences in
order to rescue Captain Pike and stop the evil Romulan, Nero, from destroying Earth.
While pursuing their enemy, the film again begins to introduce us to many of the
series’ recurring characters (Bones, Sulu, Scotty, Chekov, etc.). With the plot
successfully set-up for the climactic battle between Nero and the USS Enterprise,
Abrams attempts to show the maturity of the two heroes when they are able to finally
agree that they would rescue Captain Pike and stop the terror of the Romulan vessel.
With the successful mission finally completed, the film begins to conclude with Kirk
being officially recognized in his rightful position as Captain of the USS
Enterprise and Spock requesting to be his first officer.

In conclusion, the new Star
Trek is an action-packed film that acted more as a prequel for the actual series.
Abrams attempted to give the audience an insight into the characters so that they
might better understand their history. However, he did not forget to include
portions of the film that would satisfy the hardcore Trekkie fans around the world.
Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock from the 1966 series makes several appearances in
the film and provides advice for the young versions of the characters. Additionally,
the film concludes with Nimoy stating the famous monologue, “Where no man has gone
before,” which was stated in the opening sequence of every episode of Star Trek
produced.

Star Trek. By Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Dir. J. J. Abrams, Prod.
Damon Lindelof and J. J. Abrams. 2009. Paramount Pictures.

Reviewer: Geoffrey Feinberg

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