Star Trek (2009) is a fun, fast-paced movie that is reasonably consistent with the tone, humour, and “edge” of the better elements of the franchise’s various TV series and movies (1966-2005). It will likely do quite a bit to restore Star Trek as a widely-shared cultural institution. In line with that, the movie makes some use of Alexander Courage’s theme music for the original series, and Michael Giacchino bases some of his original score on the “open-interval” trope used for the American west by Aaron Copland and Elmer Bernstein and reasserted for science-fiction by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, and others. In addition, the ethnically “eastern” Federation captain of the prologue (the actor’s parents are of Pakistani/Muslim origin) and the movie’s variety of non-human aliens moderately update the multi-ethnicity of Star Trek‘s “liberal universe.”
The characterizations of Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhuru, and Pike are fine, but the mannerisms of McCoy, Chekov, and Scotty are especially commendable for being “true” to their respective stereotyped origins as a cantankerous Southerner, a Russian whipper-snapper, and an energetic Scotsman. However, certain things about the movie ring a bit “untrue,” especially if you know more than an average amount of earlier Star Trek. For example, was it ever previously suggested that Spock had programmed the Kobayashi Muru test on which Kirk ended up “cheating” by re-programming it? Was Chekov really on Pike’s Enterprise, given that he wasn’t on the original series until its second season? Could the movie’s central characters really have gotten past certain emotionally fusing and/or alienating incidents? Or, as is quite possible, are things the way they are in this movie mainly because most of its storyline is contained within an alternate timeline?
The incorporation of original Spock (Leonard Nimoy) as “future Spock” is fairly convoluted, as are the gratuitous “CGI monsters” in an action scene on an “ice planet.” Speaking of ice planets, the aspect of young, rural “hick” Kirk being goaded on to greater things in order to come to terms with the “destiny” of his father reminds one very much of a certain young fellow in the other main sci-fi franchise of the past 43 years. However, Jim Kirk in Star Trek (unlike Luke Skywalker in the original three Star Wars movies) rises to become an important figure within about two hours – and I do NOT just mean the running time of the film!