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Star Trek

May 11, 2009

I think I may have had a little snooze at one point. Just a little one. Nothing spectacular, certainly not the hour-long über kip I managed in the middle of, aptly, Sleepers; nor the wake-up-snorting embarrassment of X-Men 3. No, just a resting-one’s-eyes moment, if you will. Nevertheless, it was there, and in a movie filled with theatre-rocking bombast and shuddersome soundscapes as evidenced here, that’s quite extraordinary.

The new Star Trek movie, er, Star Trek, reboots the franchise after much wibbling about and endless losses of focus via the films based on the original TV series and the subsequent TV spin-offs. Admittedly these have enjoyed slavish cult followings, but there have also been varying degrees of artistic success and unintentional hilarity during the concept’s seemingly endless mission to explore new markets and new advertising arenas. Let’s be frank, for the most part it was Freak of the Week fayre, with yet more curiously human-shaped aliens with plastic bumps welded to their foreheads, or the ‘otherness’ of tattoos. Scary. It was ripe for dropping and moving on. Which is why we have a reboot, because – as we all know – there is no such thing as an original idea any more.

So, with breathtaking hutzpah/cheek/arrogance we simply go back to the beginning. That really is all that’s happened. An extensive pre-title sequence shows us Kirk’s birth and his father’s demise in one spectacular moment of evil alien nastiness, and then it’s younger slimmer versions of all the tubby oldies, shiny and new and ready for Space School. We’re starting all over again! A clunky time travel plot device brings Kirk Snr’s murderer back centre stage, just in time to coincide with the brattish young JTK’s graduation and, before you know it, we’re on a vengeance mission, picking up all of the regulars Magnificent Seven stylee, kitting them out in their regulation-coloured tops just in time for explosions and much self-referencing.

That’s it. No, really, that is all there is to it, and so the ability of the film to stand or fall lies in how much fun you’re going to have along the way, and not – I hope – because of anything involving the portentous heavy-handed Coelho-esque platitudes about destiny and loyalty which this sort of guff feels somehow obligated to include. So, is it? Fun, I mean?

Yes, of course it bloody is. It’s bags of fun.

It looks splendid, for a start, and there is much roister-doistering, bone-crunching and absurd death-defying to liven up the crazily wonderful special effects. Great fat gobbets of old Trekkie lore and all the obvious characters battling it out in a we’ll-all-get-our-go cliche wankathon are genuinely gigglesome. Joy and sheer bloody entertainment run through this like letters through Brighton rock, it can’t be denied.

But it’s wearisome, and in the end it’s a good 15 to 20 minutes too long. And despite the explosions and general brouhaha, I did start to drift off when Life Threatening Scenario No.47 hoved into view.

But, heck, all the new crew do a terrific job, although sadly Simon Pegg’s Scotty is just what you expected him to be (the geek from MI:3, with a cod Scottish accent) and he adds nothing bar an expected trotting out of “I cannae give her any more power”, or something. Chris Pine’s Kirk, though, and Quinto’s Spock are very very good, and the new Uhura (Zoe Saldana) lights up the screen, she’s just lovely. In fact, so intent is Star Trek on having a good time it feels giddy enough to include a few comedic turns (never a good idea) and very disappointingly, it fails to dish up a half-decent villain. Eric Bana as the rebel Romulan (read, Eastern European swarthy untrustworthy Johnny Foreigner) is all unshaven, be-tattooed and heavily-accented, but he’s about as threatening as a premenstrual tribble.

Never mind. It’s not about the first film, anyway, it’s about making a splash and getting the brand back on the shelves.

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