Paramount Pictures 120 Minutes PG-13
This may not take the Starship Enterprise where this franchise has never gone before, but it’s as much fun as ever. There is more than enough to excite Trekkie fans who’ve seen the TV series and previous movies, but there is also an emotional tug and tribute to the past. Besides Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, and the rest of the crew, there are some exciting newcomers. And there is whole lot of action.
J.J. Abrams tapped Fast and Furious Director Justin Lin, another Star Trek fan, to take the helm of this installment. Abrams describes Lin as a strong storyteller and filmmaker who adds incredible energy and action in this vision. There are sly references to past characters and their adventures, while not short-changing the action and special effects wizardry expected of this kind of film making. But there’s always been an ethos to the Star Trek franchise, whether it's environmentalism, racism or other topics. Writers Simon Pegg (who also plays Scottie) and Doug Jung worked themes like this into this script with lines like “There is power in Unity.” “We secretly hope for a universe where all are accepted, there is no prejudice, and the vision of our own future." Even Sulu being gay (played by John Cho, is addressed showing him with his husband and their child.
Director Lin put this crew through their paces. Chris Pine says he's been doing this for 10 years but Lin has added some huge action sequences coming from his Fast and Furious world. Quinto says Lin brought a whole different energy and “built this crazy set of crawl space in a quarry, ...just massive, one of the biggest things I’ve really seen.” Quinto describes working with gimbles and hydraulics as "impressive and fun” and says the sets brought an “atmospheric complexity" to the film and that combined with Justin's "nimble camera sensibility, a dynamic for the audience to get sucked into.” They also shot scenes in Dubai.
But it isn’t all action. Pine describes a lot of levity on the set as well as in the movie, thanks to Pegg and Jung’s words. Pine says Simon is a comedian and very funny and that a lot of the it is over the top, but he loves doing that stuff.
Spock and Doctor “Bones” McCoy played by Karl Urban go head-to-head as expected, but in this film, their buddy relationship is given more chance to develop. They’re spar pretty well. Urban says Spock and McCoy are really on opposite ends of the spectrum and have to learn about each other as they work together to overcome their differences. He calls rewarding the time he had with Zach, and a lot of fun. Quinto liked working with Karl, too. “He’s hilarious and brings such life to role of “Bones.”
Playing Spock, Quinto says he’s more human in this film. He displayed anger in the first film. Fought physically and otherwise for his crew in the second. But says “This is the quietest and most emotional version of him.” He is going through an inner crisis after his father, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, has died. He is torn between his pursuing his father’s ideals or continuing on this mission with the crew of the Enterprise. Plus there’s his on again, off again, relationship with Uhura played by Zoë Saldana. It’s complicated, but also very touching.
Two new players add action to this adventure. Idris Elba as Krall, the villain trying to destroy the peace loving Federation is using their unity and compassion to destroy what they have built. Yorktown is the ideal example of a peaceful, all inclusive community contained in a manufactured planet. Karl says “Unity is not your strength. It’s your weakness.” Elba says he liked playing a baddy in the film released on the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Justin and he had lots of conversations about how you make his role realistic which was challenging in a reptilian suit that he described as very heavy and restrictive. He had to learn to work with it and there were lot of moving parts. Director Lin says it was great working with Idris because he would just go for it.
Jaylah, an alien warrior, played by Sofia Boutella, is an exciting addition to the cast. J.J. Abrams says she is his favorite new character. She’s “spirited, resourceful, sweet funny, and tough as hell who becomes a very important ally to the crew.” He says she becomes a new kind of hero. And we’ll probably get to see her again. We hope so. She’s unusual and very entertaining.
Is this worth your bucks? Yes, it’s a fun movie with tons of action. But Lin, Pegg, Jung and the cast have created a fitting tribute to Star Trek icon, Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock. This film gives us all a chance to say a proper good-bye. Saldana says “Those very few moments that I got to spend with Leonard Nimoy, I will treasure those moments for a very long time, for as long as I live. It’s a very big moment when an actor gets to meet an iconic actor who really figured out something special. He extracted all the juice out of Star Trek and Spock. So much so that he’s inspired people for decades.”
Also remembered is Anton Yeltchin as Chekov, the young actor who died recently in a freak accident. He was talented with his whole life before him and the film acknowledges both Nimoy’s and Yeltchin’s passing. Abrams, Lin and the rest of the cast think this film goes back to Gene Roddenberry’s original concept more than anything done previously. This is an action-packed film with massive destruction, and interesting relationships, plus some good comedy and positive messages. This fresh take also honors the past. It’s fun for non-Trekkies as well as Trekkies. You just might want to make it a mission and boldly sign up for this trip.