To Trek or not to Trek

*** Although this is not a film review in the strictest sense, it does talk about the movie, so if you were planning on seeing JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, be warned that there are SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

Star Trek fans were anticipating to boldly go to one of this summer’s blockbusters:   Star Trek, or Star Trek XI according to hardcore followers of the series.

After watching the movie I can unequivocally state that the special effects were phenomenal.   Never have I witnessed battle sequences that felt so authentic in Star Trek.   It was truly some of the best CGI work and I give full props to director J.J. Abrams’ (Felicity, Lost, Fringe) technical team for pulling off one of the greatest Star Trek movies I personally have seen, with the exception of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with my favorite line: “KHAN! KHAAAAN!!!”

The acting is also spectacular with Chris Pine playing   young Kirk, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as Spock, Anton Yeltchin as Chekov, John Cho (Harold & Kumar) as Sulu and Zoe Saldana as Uhura.   Honorable mentions go to Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) who plays a very funny and realistic Scotty and Karl Urban as a carbon copy of a young Dr. McCoy.

The acting brought life to these resurrected characters and the script that was filled with clichés but was not overdone as to annoy but rather made humorous references at appropriate times.

They haven’t been that many good times in the Star Trek universe lately.   The last two Next Generation movies were highly disappointing affairs. Nemesis followed a disappointing Insurrection (the harlequin romance version of Star Trek) and I wondered if the studio and producers could sink any lower.   Have they finally milked Star Trek of all its sophistication?   Would I have to endure battle sequences with the immobile and heftier Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) for the rest of my life?

I though at the time that Nemesis would be the nail in the coffin for the series until I saw the trailer for the new movie on the internet.   Watching it, my eyes glazed, I   realized that this commercial was far more appealing and exciting and than Insurrection and Nemesis combined!

Although after seeing the movie I felt a kind of sadness because of the potential controversy that may be coming due to this film’s story existing in an alternate timeline (I mean this in the most nerdy sense of pop-culture debates).   I felt that some hard-core trekkers would be upset by history being erased.   I mean after all we have been through with William Shatner and crew how could we go back and start all over?   How could we forget the battles and struggles they went through?   Were they all for nothing?

Some in the debate see this as a studio ploy to make as many movies as possible without hearing complaints about tarnishing the Star Trek Cannon.   No one wanmts to see Andorians and Klingons protesting outside of Paramount Studios.

But how different is the new Star Trek universe you ask?   Well for one thing, Kirk’s father is killed which does not happen in the original series.   Having no father to raise him under the banner of Starfleet makes Kirk a wilder more rebellious child and changes his character slightly.

Another big change is the destruction of Vulcan.   I had to look away in disbelief.   Vulcan was a planet that I grew up watching on the old series in front of my family’s colour television.   My favorite fight scene took place there in the episode known as Amok Time when Kirk has to fight Spock during his Pon farr (Vulcan mating period every seven years).   Now that planet has been essentially annihilated.

With the new time line, though, the writers have a chance to mimic the post 9/11 world that we live in: sure we have the ideals of the federation, but we are angry as hell!   The mentality of our own zeitgeist filled with terrorism and torture is represented in this movie.

In the old series the Klingons and the Federation represent the struggle between USSR and USA and the bipolar world of ideological struggle.   Today we find a complicated struggle with an unknown force, where even the most logical of peoples (Vulcans) loose their sense of control.   It’s by far the angriest of the series, doing what Star Trek does best: social commentary on our time.

The alternate timeline concept is a smart and effective way of allowing us to experience the trials and tribulations of a crew under different circumstances.   It is the only way to appease the fans and introduce Star Trek to new audiences.   While you can make a prequel, you can’t actually recreate the original, so make something different instead.

This is what Abrams understands and this is the reason I enjoyed this movie so much.   It gave the fans a more upgraded modern Star Trek.   It won’t be the same as watching the old   TV show on my grandmothers colour screen when I was eight years old, but it will be by its own right be good, but realistically different.

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