VOD film review: Star Trek (2009)
Ivan Radford | On 02, Jul 2013
Director: J J Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Nimoy, Anton Yelchin, John Cho
Watch Star Trek (2009) online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” That’s the sound of a new Spock (Zachary Quinto) hitting the big screen for a new generation of Star Trek films – and possible the sound of sci-fi fans realising that JJ Abrams’ reboot just set the franchise’s phasers to stun once more. A ballistic, blistering, belter of a movie, it’s a sassy, snappy and slick affair – one that will win over long-time Trekkies and newcomers alike.
Telling the tale of Kirk and Spock: The Early Years, Star Trek faces quite a challenge: we know what happens to them later on, so does James T Kirk really have to look like Bill Shatner? The answer, in classic tradition, comes down to two words: time travel. Yes, black holes abound in Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s screenplay. The good kind of black holes. The sciencey ones. The ones that suck planets into nothing and send people back 120 years to meet their younger selves. (In an alternate universe, naturally.)
This strange new world brings with it new life and new civilisations – a blank canvas for Abrams to do it all over again. And so we meet Kirk (Chris Pine) as he’s born mid-battle, his father having died in a Big Horrible Explosion. 22 years later, Kirk is drinking his way through life, a reckless, womanising rogue. After a punch-up with some peeps from Starfleet in a bar, he decides to sign up.
Spock, meanwhile, is still struggling with his half-human, half-Vulcan identity. His father married a human mother (Winona Ryder), but is giving into emotion highly illogical? The Vulcans think so, labelling her a disability. That’s enough to spur Spock on to join Starfleet too. And so the collision course is set for sci-fi’s greatest bromance of all time: Kirk and Spock. Except at the moment, they hate each other.
Skipping through the academy education, we see Kirk cheat the Kobayashi Maru test, before heading out on his first mission – comically snuck aboard by Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Urban). But it is, inevitably, a trap. Enter angry Romulan Nero (Eric Bana), who has beef with the Vulcans – and peril swiftly ensues.
The script’s temporal tomfoolery zips along at a terrifying pace. Once things start to blow up (in the first 5 minutes), Abrams really lets rip, ramping up the speed to warp level something-or-other, and never slows down. Packing in action-filled set pieces, he showers the cosmos in chaos with a breathtaking determination (and a spectacular special effects team).
Characters feel fleshed out, too, with crew members Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho) Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) more than just along for the ride. Exposition on the fly, back-story in between bursting starships? Anything’s possible. Even jokes comes thick and fast, alongside the well-pitched level of emotional turmoil. More than anything, perhaps, the most impressive feature of the film is its sense of humour; led by a charismatic Chris Pine, Quinto and the rest of the cast give such unselfconscious performances that their spot-on comic timing comes right to the fore. A shining new crew for the sparkling white Enterprise, then. After this, they can boldly go wherever the heck they want.
Star Trek (2009) is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.