Year Released: 2009
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine,, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Eric Bana
(PG-13, 127 min.)
"…to boldly go where no man has gone before." Captain James Tiberius Kirk
How to reboot the moribund Star Trek franchise, keeping its cranky fans aboard the Starship Enterprise while welcoming a new generation of recruits? Somehow director J.J. Abrams succeeds in this delicate balancing act by maintaining the core characters, throwing in some youthful rebellion, sexual tension, and plenty of reliable inter space swashbuckling as he revisits the youthful beginnings of the iconic crew.
After all, as critic Joe Yang says, “The goal of the movie isn't meant to see how well JJ Abrams can satisfy a couple of nerds sitting in the front row of the theater.” And as many have noted, the reboot liberally borrows from the Star Wars saga, while Chris Pine’s Kirk pays tribute to Tom Cruise’s Top Gun as well as Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones.
I’d like to call this a new wine that pays homage to a classic vintage, but in reality the crew is more like a cask not fully aged that has to be tapped prematurely. At least that is what happens when the new graduates of the Star Fleet Academy are abruptly called on a rescue mission. And two of our favorites almost don’t make it onboard. Uhura (Zoë Saldana) has to recount her merits to her mentor, Spock, who thinks assigning his star pupil will look like favoritism. James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is excluded for disciplinary reasons, only making it on board when his friend McCoy (Karl Urban) shoots him up with a vaccine that quickly morphs him into a “medical emergency” case who must be in his doctor’s care.
Of course we see even earlier versions of Kirk and Spock as well. The back story on Kirk, while intriguing or even “fascinating” as Spock might say, is a bit over the top, to say the least. Losing his father at birth, he is the ultimate rebel and risk taker. The ten-year-old James Tiberius Kirk takes his uncle’s Corvette on a joy ride through the corn fields of Iowa and barely gets away with his life, which might not be worth too much, seeing as how he has totaled the priceless car. As an eighteen year old, he flirts with Starfleet cadet Uhura at a local bar, and then is beaten almost to a pulp by three swaggering cadets. Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who rescues him from the bullies, recalls serving with Kirk’s father and encourages him to join Starfleet, which has a ‘shipyard” inexplicably situated right in the middle of Iowa. And just as inexplicably, the young Kirk abandons his restless ways, riding to the outpost on his motorcycle like a young Marlon Brando in The Wild One, only to toss the keys to the nearest bloke, and hop aboard the next shuttle to the academy.
Spock (Zachary Quinto) is the perfect reincarnation of the pointy-eared Vulcan. Unlike Chris Pine, he actually looks like a youthful version of his character, and he embodies the human/Vulcan conflicts under his skin with understatement, though it is the script that helps him here just as it is the script that accounts for most of Pine/Kirk’s over the top performance. And it is Spock who has the luck with the ladies, that is, if you discount Kirk’s interrupted amorous adventures with a green-skinned damsel at the academy, a hat tip to Trekkies, who must surely remember Kirk’s attempted seduction by a similarly emerald skinned Orion slave girl. Not only does Spock outdo Kirk in romance, but he is one of many who literally beat, choke, and body slam the cocky cadet almost to oblivion. In fact, James Tiberius Kirk seems to channel Rodney Dangerfield several times during the film.
Simon Pegg’s young Scotty is feisty and utterly human even though it is only engines that he loves. And somehow Karl Urban endows Dr. McCoy with his curmudgeon wit even thought he is barely past thirty, though I was somewhat disappointed in the lame explanation for his nickname. He supposedly joins Starfleet because he has lost everything in a divorce and all he has left are his “bones,” when anyone the least bit familiar with medical history knows that nickname comes from “sawbones,” an early sobriquet for surgeons describing their grisly work in the battlefield.
Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) is achingly young, a 16 year old child genius of sorts who can beam aboard humans dropping from the sky as well as navigate around just about everything except his w’s. John Cho’s Sulu does not disappoint, even if he has to leave his comic talents behind and has to shine beside his sword instead. Uhura (Zoë Saldana) is smart and beautiful, emerging from her communications console in a way her counterpart never did before.
Eric Bana’s Romulan villain, Captain Nero is fine, but he cannot compete with the dynamics aboard the newly launched Enterprise, shaved head and evil tattoos aside. Spock Prime, on the other hand, played by the 78 year old Leonard Nimoy, is the wise old man we always knew he would be, rational but in touch with his human side as well.
Certainly some can quibble with the time warp eccentricities, or bemoan the lack of a philosophical foundation that grounded much of the early Rodenberry work, but this Enterprise is on its own mission. It will not to be navigated by nostalgia but will boldly go where no *man has gone before.
*No, I refuse to go with the PC “no one.” Somehow the cadence is not right.
What is a Star Trek without Spock and Bones locking horns? Here’s a sample from the television series:
McCoy: Medical men are trained in logic.
Spock: Trained? Judging from you, I would have guessed it was trial and error.
Spock: It would be interesting to impress your memory engrams on a computer, doctor. The resulting torrential flood of illogic would be most entertaining.
Dr. McCoy: Your pulse is two hundred and forty-two. Your blood pressure is practically non-existent; assuming you call that green stuff in your veins blood.
Spock: The readings are perfectly normal for me, Doctor, thank you. And as for my anatomy being different from yours, I am delighted.
While the rivalry and verbal as well as physical combat in this new release is more between young Kirk and Spock, we do get to hear Bones muttering something about Spock’s green blood.
Our blue/green cocktail, aptly named Vulcan Blood is a tribute to our favorite pointy-eared hobgoblin. It has Amaretto, Triple Sec, and Blue Curacao, with a little pineapple juice thrown in to keep you from passing out. I hope this is as popular as our other blue drink, the infamous Aqua Velva Cocktail from Zodiac.
Live Long and prosper.
Vulcan Blood Cocktail
- 1 1/2 oz Amaretto
- 1 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
- 1 1/2 oz Triple Sec
- 1 1/2 oz Citrus Vodka
- 6 oz Pineapple Juice
Shake Amaretto, Blue Curacao, Triple sec, and Vodka with ice. Strain over ice in large glass, adding pineapple juice at the same time. Enjoy! Very easy to drink, nice and fruity. Turns a odd shade of blue-green, hence the name.
Recipe Source: BarMeister.com