Throughout the years, Star Trek has always been known as the television series that brings in a much older and maturer viewership. While that is true, there were still the fantastical elements to keep the younger viewers engaged. With the release of the rebooted Star Trek in 2009, it was clear that the fantastical elements were going to be needed more than ever, in order to bring in a new and fresh audience. Now, don't get me wrong here, but I do believe the 2009 Star Trek film was able to prove itself better than the original film series. Having never watched the original television series, I will refrain from comparing the film to that.
Having seen every one of the ten previous films based on the original series and the next generation, I must say that they are going in a much stronger route this time around. Playing it very close to the chest with the original films, it felt like they are not exploring enough outside of what the television show was offering. 2009s Star Trek definitely proves its worth, by not just exploring, but by thrilling its audience from start to finish. Nothing will touch the television series, but this is why I believe Star Trek (2009) to be a better film than any of the previous ones.
1. The Accessibility
As previously stated, the original series focussed more on the brains of the operation, and less on the operation itself. Not to say the original series did not have its share of thrilling elements, but this just has much more of it. Sure, on television it may be crucial to explain every plot point in great detail, but for a two hour film, audiences can get pretty bored, pretty fast. Personally speaking, I am actually a fan of slow-burn storytelling, as long as it has a worthwhile payoff. Being a fan of all genres of film, slow-paced and extremely exciting films have all impressed me in the past. This is not how the average moviegoer feels.
The average person walks into a theatre hoping for an exciting time, helping them escape from reality for a few hours. If a film is not engaging enough, it becomes a bore, losing its audience and making them remember the reason they wanted to come to the cinema in the first place. 2009s Star Trek is the prime example of an audience pleaser. From the very first scene with Kirk's father, to the incredible voyages through time and space, to the eventual climax, this film never lets up, making for a very exciting thrill ride. Instead of hard-to-understand terms, this film has the perfect balance of both smarts and wits. That is solely due to the fact that J.J. Abrams was brought on to helm this film.
2. The 'Star Wars' Feel
Say what you will about how Star Trek is always compared to Star Wars, or vice versa, but it is without question that Star Wars has always been the more accessible franchise for all ages. Bringing J.J. Abrams on board to direct was probably the best decision they could have ever made for this franchise. Giving the helm to a man who is known for bringing new life to a franchise, while simultaneously keeping the old feel, is something very rare to accomplish. Star Trek has always been more brain than bronze, while Star Wars is the exact opposite. Staying true to the original series, director J.J. Abrams was able to cast young versions of the classic original characters, all feeling like worthy shoe-fillers.
Filled with lens flares, fast-paced action sequences, and some pretty funny quips from some of the characters, this film definitely feels like an upgraded version of its name. While Star Trek does change the feel of the original series, which may turn some fans away, it also keeps the smart interaction between the characters, making for an even more engrossing experience. Meshing modern day style with the old slow-burn pacing of the original television series, this is the Star Trek that I believe we needed for this decade.
3. It Still Remains Original After Decades of Episodes
Beginning with the origin of James T. Kirk, fans of the series get a really cool treat in watching this character grow up from a toddler to a full grown adult. Against all odds, Kirk is able to train to become a part of Star Fleet like his father and passes with flying colours. Not being allowed on the ship after a few arguable mistakes, he is able to find his way on and provide both insight for the captain, as well as being a nuisance for everyone else. Being the smart-ass he is, this makes for a very fun film when characters get to interact with one another. Who would have thought that a Star Trek film would feel this original after all these years?
Sure, it borrows many elements from the past in order to move its story forward, but it's also a fresh story all on its own. Not only does it still feel fresh, but is also able to keep the time travel elements and a cool villain, while making them completely different than any aspects of these elements audiences have seen in previous films. Speaking of the villain, this is where Star Trek films usually fail, but bringing personal motive into the story, this villain was more interesting than I believe many viewers were expecting at the time.
4. The Villain
Nero, played enjoyably by Eric Bana, may not be one of the best aspects of the film as a whole, but he is definitely better than I believe he had any right to be. Having a personal vendetta against Spock and his crew, his path of vengeance is not one to take lightly. Eric Bana's performance as this character was a blast to watch. Him not being in the film would mean that Kirk would not have been captain in the future. His purpose is far greater than just a throwaway villain. Travelling through time after being involved with Kirk's father in the past, added some great depth to the film, which I felt was absolutely necessary. Once you are able to accept that they are once again using time travel as a story element in this franchise, you will be able to forgive the big moment in the second act of the film.
5. How the Use of Time Travel Differs From the Past
Minor spoilers for those who have yet to see this film: After being deported from the ship by Spock in the second act, Kirk lands in a different place in time. Meeting the older version of the Spock he currently despises (played by Leonard Nimoy), felt like a nice surprise for fans. While it was unnecessary to have Leonard Nimoy back as Spock, it also felt earned and respectful of the source material. In the older films, time travel is used to further the story, just like this film does, but there was a bit too much comedy interjected to really take it seriously (ie. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). The fourth film of the original series was a great one, but too much comedy in a dramatic film can be jarring. This film balances the comedy aspects perfectly in my opinion. Pretty much every great aspect, plucked out of the original films, is present here. They just seem to have done everything right with this reboot.
Overall, Star Trek (2009) is a far better picture than anyone would have predicted. Filled with exciting visuals, directed with care, and a cast that both feels fresh and that pays tribute to the original actors, there is just too much in this film to love. Feeling fresh and invigorated, this film is what the franchise needed if it was going to come back to the cinema in this day and age. J.J. Abrams was definitely the right choice to helm this film and I can't wait to see what the future sequels in this rebooted franchise will hold. Star Trek (2009) is fantastic!
Review By: KJ Proulx