2009-06-05 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


'Star Trek' - Boldly Going Backward
By Robert Snyder

After 10 films, a ton of TV shows, multiple video games and millions of merchandized materials, "Star Trek" has finally gone back to the beginning.

The new film shows how the dauntless duo, Captain James Tiberius Kirk and his half-human, half-Vulcan partner Spock meet. In fact, it starts before that, with Kirk being born on a space shuttle escaping from an intergalactic cataclysm caused by demented Romulan leader Captain Nero (Eric Bana).

We then see rebellious teen Kirk (Jimmy Bennett) stealing a car in Iowa intercut with adolescent Spock (Jacob Kogan) uncharacteristically choosing fists over logic to defeat a bunch of bullies.

Finally, as young men, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) clash in their first body-vs-mind confrontation at the Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. It's this dynamic, defined in the 1966 TV show by actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, that forms the core of the original Gene Roddenberry creation and the franchise to come. Pine and Quinto struggle against caricature in a valiant attempt to give their ingénue Kirk and Spock depth, while preserving the ironical wit that welds their relationship.

The same can be said for the other cast members breathing new life into classic roles of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (now Karl Urban, then DeForest Kelley), Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (now Simon Pegg, then James Doohan), Hikaru Sulu (now John Cho, then George Takei), Uhura (now Zoë Saldana, then Nicelle Nichols) and Pavel Chekhov (now Anton Yelchin, then Walter Koenig). It's a bit sad because the original actors did it so effortlessly. Here, Director J.J. Abrams ("Lost") has the problem of squeezing a hot young body into grandpa's old prom tux. The dilemma is never more apparent as when aging Nimoy himself appears, playing none other than Spock himself. The reason is explained with some sort of time-space continuum gobbledygook, but seeing the young (Quinto) and old Spock (Nimoy) together in the same scene is a real illusion breaker.

The rest of the movie is devoted to space-movie, special effects stuff, which reeks of routine rigmarole. The plot is something about destroying the evil Romulan. It is really an excuse to get the new cast on board the Enterprise and reboot the franchise.

Boldly go see "Star Trek." But, do not believe you haven't been there before.

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