STAR TREK (2009)

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Overall Impression – One of the smartest reboots of a franchise since BATMAN BEGINS.  Buckle up!

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Spock. (Whoa?!  WHAT?!  Not Kirk?!?!  Read on!)

What’s he trying to accomplish?Professional: Protect the Enterprise as well as the principles of Starfleet and the Federation. Personal: Deal with the biggest thorn in the side of any Vulcan who has ever lived; James T Kirk! Private: Prove that he’s worthy, despite being both Vulcan and Human.

Who’s trying to stop him? – Nero, a crazed Romulan miner who blames Spock for the death of his wife and child…in the future.  (I told you to “buckle up,” didn’t I?)

What happens if he fails? – Earth will be destroyed.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Spock is a brilliant student, but never fully accepted by his peers or fellow Vulcans.  He leaves his planet and family to join Star Fleet.

Wanderer – He is constantly tested and prodded by Kirk, a wild recruit and loose cannon.  Eventually, Spock is given command of the Enterprise.

Warrior – Spock tries to save his home planet of Vulcan, and eventually can’t take anymore of Kirk’s interference.  He exiles Kirk to a desolate ice planet (like Hoth, but on steroids.)  Spock races the Enterprise back towards Earth to try to deal with the impending arrival of the crazed Romulan, Nero.  Kirk, with the help of Scotty, beams back onto the Enterprise and Spock faces off against him.

Martyr – Spock is emotionally compromised, and realizing that he has no choice but to follow the rules, he gives up command of the Enterprise and Kirk becomes captain.  Under Kirk’s command, they successfully destroy Nero and save Earth.  Spock realizes that he and Kirk can become friends, and offers to be First Officer under the newly minted Captain Kirk.

AND, IN THE END…

I can hear the comments already; “Spock is the main character?  Really?”  Yes, absolutely!  One of the tests for determining the main character is to see who changes the most from the beginning of the film to the end (check out the article “Who’s the Main Character in Titanic.”)    In STAR TREK, the character who changes the most from FADE IN to FADE OUT is Spock, hand down!  Kirk is the same rebellious wiseguy at the end of the movie as he is when we first meet him as a 12 year old.  He’s a traveling angel; not changing himself nearly as much as he changes those around him for the better (see the GLOSSARY.)

But STAR TREK is more than just Spock’s story; at it’s heart it’s a bro-mance.  It’s the story of how the two greatest friends in the galaxy become so.  Because of this, STAR TREK plays as a ‘two-hander’ between Spock’s story and Kirk’s story.   We see Kirk’s birth, the story of how he too is an orphan, wanderer, warrior, and martyr, and we see his growth from punk to captain.  So again, why isn’t he the main character?  Because he never does any soul-searching, he never changes.  He actually CHANGES Starfleet to suit himself.

In the writing, STAR TREK is something between an adaptation, a sequel, a prequel, and an invention.  It plays smartly and beautifully off of what the die hard Trekkers know and love (present company included) while gently and lovingly bringing a fresh set of eyes to old memories.  Hat’s off to the entire creative team.  This movie was so much fun, I hardly care that I have no idea what the heck was going on with Nero and his story.   Key word being “hardly.”  In spite of my admiration, there’s still a part of me that would have liked more clarity.

FANBOY TRIVIA CONTEST — One of the things I loved the most about the writing of STAR TREK were all of the winks to the fans.  From a deliberately forced William Shatner-esque line-delivery for one line, to the use of lines of dialog from previous movies, the writers definitely let the fans know that a beloved property was in loving hands.

One of the smartest winks occurs during Kirk’s successful attempt at winning the Kobiyashi Maru training exercise.  It’s not a line of dialog, but a specific action.  I’m not sure if it was in the shooting script, or if director J.J. Abrams came up with it during shooting.   A special Contour At The Movies Nerd Fanboy Gearhead Commendation will go to the first reader who identifies the specific action and explains the context behind it.

NOTE — This is a repost of the original blog.  For some reason, WordPress ate the other one!

— Jeffrey Alan Schechter

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