REVIEW: Star Trek

Michael Joyce It's bigger, busier, faster, sexier and noisier than the original but this begin-again overhaul

Star Trek (12A)

Director J.J Abrams

Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy

126 mins


It'S bigger, busier, faster, sexier and noisier than the original but this begin-again overhaul is definitely Star Trek - with whatever positive and negative connotations that brings for you.

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The story begins with the birth of Kirk and goes all the way through to the classic original crew's first mission on the Enterprise.

A bold new cast has been deployed for this lavish, big budget endeavour. Pegg's Scottie is disappointingly just played for laughs but most of them do very good jobs of approximating the characters and performers that they are going to grow up to be. Quinto (Sylar on Heroes) and Urban do uncannily good work as Spock and Bones, while Uhuru has been transformed into a Beyonce look-alike.

The exception though is Pine who is neither Shatner nor Kirk. Pine looks like a cross between Ray Liotta, Lee Evans and the impossibly blue eyed leading man in a second rate Spaghetti western and the film portrays the young Kirk as a wild, roughhousing rebel which seems wrong, even for a not fully formed version of him. This man isn't going to grow up to be Captain James T Kirk; he's more like a young Gene Hunt.

Leonard Nimoy turns up halfway through as Spock, given the Basil Exposition role, gabbling through a hasty outline of the plot. A nice irony as it seems almost entirely lacking in logic and relies heavily on the use of those always handy black holes as architects of outrageous and convenient coincidences.

Almost everybody has some affection for Star Trek and this taps into that better than most of its predecessors. If you plan to go and see it I'd avoid the first weekend, give all the Trekkers a chance to get it out of their system.

There were a couple sat behind me and their slavish, noisy approval had the effect of sucking away some of my enthusiasm for it.

Of course it is their enormous, ceaseless devotion that has kept the franchise going through five TV incarnations, 10 movies and all the other spin offs. But it is also what keeps it down.

For a show that is about going boldly where no one has gone before Star Trek has spent over four decades circling round the same themes and the same ideas.

Lost creator Abrams did wonders making a Mission Impossible film that was worth watching, breathing life into the inert but all he can do here is ramp up everything to maximum. (And he really amps it up - when Kirk pats Spock on the arm it's louder than a knockout punch in Raging Bull; the explosions would drown out The Who Live at Leeds.)

For all its frenetic camera work all you are getting is one of the better Trek movies crossed with the epic production values of the initial plodding Star Trek - The Motion Picture.

But that's the Star Trek way. It never grows, never develops, it's as if there is a quality threshold - just above alright - which it must never surpass.