Star Trek: the re-booted version – a review

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Yesterday evening to see Star Trek. Very satisfactory!

(Italicised text below quoted from the Star Trek trivia section of the appropriate Internet Movie database page. Pictures from the IMDb’s collection of photos or taken from stills from the film’s trailers on the Star Trek Movie official site.)

To make the film appeal to the casual audience, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman cut down on the technical terms, increased the action and named it simply “Star Trek” to indicate to newcomers they would not need to watch the other films.

On the other hand, for those who remember the original TV series, there are plenty of nostalgia nuggets to spot. Such as …

Majel Barrett, the wife of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, has a role in this film as the voice of the Enterprise computer. (A role she played in the original TV series and several of the spin-offs.) She completed recording two weeks before her death on December 18 2008.

The film is dedicated to her and to Gene Rodenberry, Star Trek’s daddy.
Star Trek faces 1: Zoe Saldana & Karl Urban

Above: Zoë Saldana who plays ‘Lieutenant Uhuru’ (middle left) also played a character in The Terminal (2004), an immigration officer who is a Trekkie in her off-time (far left). New Zealander, Karl Urban, was shot to world stardom as ‘Eomer’ in The Lord of the Rings (far right) – looks a bit different as ‘Dr McCoy’ (middle right).

Zoe Saldana never saw “Star Trek” [the original TV series] … However, Saldana’s mother was a Star Trek fan and sent her voice mails during filming, giving advice on the part.

Yeah. I’m sure that helped!

Karl Urban is a longtime self-described “religious” fan of the Original Series. He used to watch it on Saturday mornings in New Zealand with his dad.

My dad wasn’t at home and my mum thinks SF is just silly. And I still turned into an SF fan – how’s that?
Star Trek faces 2: Simon Pegg & Winnona Ryder

Above: When the credits rolled I couldn’t for the life of me work out which character Winona Ryder had played. Had to check on the IMDb. She is ‘Amanda Grayson’, Spock’s mother. That’s her, in character on the right. On the Extra Material, somebody regrets losing a scene where ‘Amanda’ gives birth to Spock, because “it’s the only scene where her ears aren’t covered and her humanity is revealed.” (As opposed to the vulcanity of Spock’s father). But as you can see from this picture, (still from the DVD) the curve of her human ears are plain – for a brief moment at least – under her headscarf.

Simon Pegg who plays ‘Montgomery “Scotty” Scott’ (in the strip above centre left) is better known in England as a comedian and comic actor. He played ‘Shaun’ (far left) in the zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead (2004).

Years before, Simon Pegg’s character in “Spaced” (1999) joked about every odd-numbered Star Trek film being “shit”. Now he says: “Fate put me in the movie to show me I was talking out of my ass.”

This film is number 11.

Scottish fans have complained that Pegg is English – they think the role should have gone to a Scot. This ignores two facts:

    1) The original ‘Scotty’ was played by James Doohan, a Canadian of Irish extraction.
    2) Neither Zachary Quinto nor Leonard Nimoy – who both play ‘Spock’ – are, in fact from Vulcan. (Not many people realise this.)

To develop the female characters, the wives of J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were consulted. In fact it was Katie Abrams’s approval of the strong female characters that convinced her husband J.J. to sign on to direct.

This statement just leaves me speechless. What “strong female characters” – there is Uhuru and then there is … ? In this respect the film shows its socio-historical roots very obviously. But if you’re going to re-make a 1960s boy’s adventure with the original assembly of characters, what can you expect?

The girls – and I use the word deliberately – are there, but in the background (and in very short skirts). There are also two mothers. ‘Kirk’s’ and ‘Spock’s’. One gives birth to the hero: “He’s beautiful”. The other is protective and proud of her son. They’re positive images I suppose, but clichés. And they don’t occupy much screen time.

Oh yes, and the baddy is motivated by the death of his wife who we also see briefly.
Star Treck block

Visually (above) it is very striking.

Production designer Scott Chambliss used the layout of the Enterprise bridge from “Star Trek” (1966), but gave it brighter colors to reflect the optimism of Star Trek; (J.J. Abrams quipped that the redesigned bridge “made the Apple Store look uncool”).

Taking advantage of the 35mm 2:35:1 anamorphic stock film, cinematographer Daniel Mindel caught as many lens flares (a photographic effect where light sparkles everywhere) in the film as possible, to create a sense of wonder that enhanced the film: “There’s something about these flares, especially in a movie that potentially could be incredibly sterile and overly controlled by CGI, that’s just incredibly unpredictable and gorgeous.”

It does look fantastic.

Spock from the original TV series: Live long, and prosper.

Revisited and revised for SEO fine-tuning etc. 9 Jan 2017.

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2 thoughts on “Star Trek: the re-booted version – a review”

  1. I thought this was a great reboot to the Trek series and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Thanks for a fine little review!

    • And thank you Mcwaters!
      I’m also looking forward to the sequel – though I think I’ll be disappointed if it turns just to be more of the same. I would in particular expect to see a more active role – at least for Uhuru and preferably some other strong female characters – to balance the “Boys’ Own” quality of the first film.

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