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Monday, 25 May 2009

Star Trek

Writer / director J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3, TV series Lost and Alias) is very good at what he does. But it's only now with Star Trek that's he's been given a project where what he does has matched what's required. He's brilliant with characters - so long as things are kept light, funny, and (sometimes) sexy. He can put together thrilling action - so long as we're not meant to think anyone's in real danger. And he can pace a film so you barely have time to catch your breath - which is only a good thing when the story and the characters don't require any kind of in-depth analysis. In his previous projects, these strengths have often verged on weakness: here's they're exactly what this reboot of the Star Trek franchise needed, and the result is one of the most fun and exciting Hollywood blockbusters of the decade. The story is surprisingly easy to follow, especially considering it involves time travel and two versions of one character walking around at the same time: when the evil Nero (Eric Bana) appears from the future in a giant spaceship and starts trashing the galaxy, it's up to cocky space cadet James T Kirk (Chris Pine) and the emotionless half-Vulcan Spock (Zachary Quinto) to figure out how to get along for long enough to save the galaxy from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. All your favourite characters from the original Star Trek are here, and they all get just enough on-screen time to be both funny (Karl Urban as Dr 'Bones' McCoy is a kak) and competent, while the interplay between Kirk and Spock is the heart of the film and both actors play it to perfection. With a very large cast of characters (Spock's parents also get a look-in) and a lot of action to cram it something had to give and sadly it's Bana's role, which ends up being more of a plot device than a classic Trek villain. But that's the only flaw here and it's a very minor one: if there's a better blockbuster of any kind of this year then 2009 will be an amazingly good year for movies.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #452)