MOVIE RATING: 4 stars (B+)
(Updated February 19, 2012)
The recent Star Trek (2009) movie reboot by writer/director J.J. Abrams was not everything I hoped for, but it was still a decent movie for the 11th film in the franchise. I was really excited to see this movie when it came out last year. I went to the theater opening week to watch it with my friend Gabe. The trailers and movie posters definitely look cool and slick, which enticed and excited me. And the fact that one of the creators of Lost and Alias was behind this franchise makeover was a big selling point too. The production design and cinematography in the movie are very well done…with just a few too many lens light flares I think. I really noticed them more on my 2nd viewing at home…and they started bugging me by the end of the film. The plot of the story and the writing were well done too. And of course the special effects were top notch.
I think the main thing that keeps me from really loving this movie is the acting. I feel like most of the actors are trying too hard to mimic the original actors and characters. Chris Pine feels like he’s playing William Shatner playing James T. Kirk. And the same is true for the actors playing the characters Spock, Bones, Scotty, and Chekov. So I’m guessing that this was director Abrams approach to the movie. It feels a little “cheesy” to me going this route. I would have preferred to see a “darker” more dramatic and serious take on these characters like Christopher Nolan has done with the Batman franchise. But too be honest, I’m not sure anyone can ever capture this series better than the original actors did in the first six Star Trek movies. And that is why I think Gene Roddenberry went in a different but similar direction with all his spin-off series (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, etc.), using new characters instead of trying to get new actors to play the original characters. Part of it is the time when those original Star Trek movies came out and the chemistry between those original actors that embodied and owned these characters. The cheesiness that those actors brought to their characters in those movies felt more genuine. I mean who can deny that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) is pretty “cheesy”…and yet it’s one of the best and most popular of the Star Trek movies. Whereas in this remake, the cheesiness feels artificial…again like they are mimicking the original series. But I will say that this movie was more successful in my eyes than the series of Next Generation Star Trek Movies that populated the 7th through 10th films in this franchise. For me the first 6 Star Trek films are the best of the franchise, with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) being the benchmark that all others must live up to.
On a broader note, I think Hollywood’s current obsession with remaking every halfway decent and popular TV Show, Super Hero Comic, Book, Toy, or Movie franchise is really wearing thin. The last 10-20 years have just felt like nearly everything coming out of Hollywood in terms of blockbuster movies is a retread of something already created. How many different takes on Batman or Superman or Whatever can we take? Original content movies like Inception are the exception. I realize that there’s always a new generation of younger people that don’t know the original material, so these remakes are often targeted at them, along with the diehard and cult fans that will go see whatever movie has a name they recognize on it. But I for one am anxiously awaiting the return of original new material to the mainstream of Hollywood filmmaking. I do think that eventually Hollywood will see past remaking the Dukes of Hazard for the 13th time. Or Transformers 49. But until then, I’m happy to see the few gems that do come out of all of these remakes and this new Star Trek is a great looking and feeling film. It definitely gives the Star Trek world a slick modern look that can’t be matched by any of the older material. I just wish the characters and actors inhabiting this slick modern world had the depth that the originals had. But we’ll see what Abrams does with the next Star Trek film. I can’t wait to see it!