After the death of his father, a young James T. Kirk grows up trying to pick a fight with the universe. Meanwhile the half-human half-Vulcan Spock is struggling to come to terms with the emotional conflict his duality causes. When a vengeful Romulan begins attacking Federation worlds, a bunch of young recruits must rise to the challenge whilst Spock and Kirk must learn to trust each other if they are going to survive.
Star Trek (2009) – Director: J. J. Abrams
Running Length: 127 mins
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana
Genre: Science Fiction, Action / Adventure
When director J.J. Abrams, the man behind the intriguing but slightly plodding TV series, ‘Lost’ and disappointing alien invasion movie, ‘Cloverfield‘, signed on to direct a prequel to reinvigorate the ailing Star Trek movie franchise, there may have been concern that he would turn it into something high on mystery and low on action. Luckily this was quickly proved not to be the case. Focusing primarily on the relationships between the reckless and over-confident James T. Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and the conflicted and over-controlled Spock (played by Zachery Quinto), ‘Star Trek’ is an injection of much-needed fun into a franchise that could otherwise be a little too straight-faced.
‘Star Trek’ is essentially an origin story in disguise. Where some such stories can get bogged down in endless introduction of characters and concepts, Abrams expertly keeps a satisfying balance between special effects, depth of character, and genuine comedy. Each member of the cast delivers an engaging performance with a particular highlight being Quinto’s Spock who manages to convey hidden conflicting emotions behind the cold logical Vulcan facade. Even Uhura gets a fully rounded character who is more than capable of holding her own against the butting heads of Kirk and Spock. The result is a well-rounded, fun and action packed movie that should appeal to fans of well-rounded, fun and action packed movies: an enjoyment of science fiction is not a pre-requisite!
IS ‘STAR TREK’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
As the film opens we are introduced to the crew of the starship USS Kelvin, which is under attack. Holes are blasted into the hull of the ship and at one point an unnamed female crew member is sucked out into space. The music cuts out when this happens and we see her pin wheel away into the distance for several seconds. A character from the Kelvin journeys to the attacking ship. One of the attacking ship’s crew extends a long bladed weapon and leaps into the air at the camera, which then cuts away to the bridge of the Kelvin where the viewscreen displays the message ‘Terminated’. Shortly after this we see the pregnant wife of a character being raced to the escape pod, where she gives birth. Her husband has to stay behind and this scene lasts around 3 minutes of high emotional intensity as he is left to his fate.
Several incidental characters get killed during ‘Star Trek’. Two are engulfs by sudden bursts of flame in shots that show them entering the flame but then the outline of the body disappears. The shots aren’t graphic but are shown directly. At one point Kirk gets stranded on an ice planet. He is attacked by humongous natural predators. Although this is a high action and occasionally comedic moment we mention it because the creature in question is very aggressive and runs directly at camera. It’s ‘face’ splits into four as it lunges at Kirk whilst pursuing him at speed for a sequence that lasts a few minutes.
There are several fist-fights in this movie. Quite often, Kirk is punched hard in the face and on at least two occasions he ends up with blood over his mouth and cheeks. During one fight scene on a mining station, one of the antagonistic characters is impaled from behind with a sword. We see him lurch and then look down at the sword that has been driven through him, before he falls to his death. Lastly with regards to violence, one character is held prisoner and his mouth is forced open so that a large beetle like ‘slug’ can be dropped into his mouth. This is a short but threatening scene, although the slug is only said to act like a truth drug and the camera cuts away after it is dropped.
There are also several sexual references throughout the movie but this is mostly through innuendo and dialogue. When Kirk first meets Uhura they are in a bar. Kirk is drunk and trying to attract Uhura. He asks what she does and she says her speciality is alien languages. He replies that she must have a ‘talented tongue’. She then says that she assumed he was a farm boy who would be the kind to only have sex with animals, to which he jibes ‘not only animals’. Kirk is later shown in just his underwear kissing a bright green girl on a bed who is also just in underwear. The kissing is passionate but they are interrupted by the girl’s roommate coming home early. The girl says that this has happened to her several times, much to Kirk’s surprise. Also, when a character is talking about the starship Enterprise he says, ‘That is one ample ship. I’d like to get my hands around her nacelles!” On a separate note this character also talks about a teleportation accident whereby a dog was dematerialised but then never rematerialised which may be a little upsetting to those who worry about animal welfare. However this is a throw-away line and not dwelt on.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Star Trek’ did huge business when it was released and it is easy to see why. We didn’t even have time to talk about the superb performances from the supporting cast (with an exceptionally grumpy and entertaining Karl Urban as Doctor McCoy). Underneath all the special effect spectacle is actually an engaging story with a surprising amount of character development. Although some of the original high concept sci-fi may not have made the cut (that perhaps will come in the sequel – due for UK release on 9th May 2013) what ‘Star Trek’ does do is bring a fresh take on established concepts and throw into the mix a healthy dose of fun. Although the suitability of the content will perhaps vary depending on differing parental standards due to the (not too strong but fairly frequent) presence of violence and (rather mild) sexual suggestion, we believe that this movie will be appropriate to children aged around 8 and up.
- Violence: 3/5
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (the opening scene is emotionally strong and the consequences of a later event causes severe emotional pain to a character – but this is only seen once or twice and is dealt with in short moments)
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (the animals that attack Kirk during the ice planet section is large and scary. The main antagonist is perpetually angry and has a tattooed face that often takes up much of the camera shots)
- Sexual Content: 2/5
- Bad Language: 2/5 (occasional uses of mild language and around three examples of more moderate curse words)
- Dialogue: 1/5 (the main antagonist talks constantly of wanting to cause suffering and destruction)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of overcoming weaknesses, working as a team, having the courage to do the right thing and that an impulsive decision can sometimes succeed where deliberation may fail.
Words by Mike Record
J.J. Abrams' 2009 feature film was billed as "not your father's Star Trek," but your father will probably love it anyway. And what's not to love? It has enough action, emotional impact, humor, and sheer fun for any moviegoer, and Trekkers will enjoy plenty of insider references and a cast that seems ideally suited to portray the characters we know they'll become later. Both a prequel and a reboot, Star Trek introduces us to James T. Kirk (Chris Pine of The Princess Diaries 2), a sharp but aimless young man who's prodded by a Starfleet captain, Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), to enlist and make a difference. At the Academy, Kirk runs afoul of a Vulcan commander named Spock (Zachary Quinto of Heroes), but their conflict has to take a back seat when Starfleet, including its new ship, the Enterprise, has to answer an emergency call from Vulcan. What follows is a stirring tale of genocide and revenge launched by a Romulan (Eric Bana) with a particular interest in Spock, and we get to see the familiar crew come together, including McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekhov (Anton Yelchin), and Scottie (Simon Pegg).
The action and visuals make for a spectacular big-screen movie, though the plot by Abrams and his writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who worked together on Transformers and with Abrams on Alias and Mission Impossible III), and his producers (fellow Losties Damon Lindeloff and Bryan Burk) can be a bit of a mind-bender (no surprise there for Lost fans). Hardcore fans with a bone to pick may find faults, but resistance is futile when you can watch Kirk take on the Kobayashi Maru scenario or hear McCoy bark, "Damnit, man, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" An appearance by Leonard Nimoy and hearing the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry as the voice of the computer simply sweeten the pot. Now comes the hard part: waiting for some sequels to this terrific prequel. --David Horiuchi