Not many advantages to living in Kuwait. Sure, the 140 degree summers are nice. And the days go by so much faster without the accessibility to alcohol. But by and large as each day passes all those stationed in this little corner of the world look at each day in lament at the lives they left in the states. There are occasional compensations, however. On 11 April 09, one such compensation was a visit to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait by the stars of J.J Abrams’ new movie with that old familiar name, STAR TREK. Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Eric Bana (new Romulan bad guy Nero; no, he does not play the fiddle) and Zoe Saldana (as a sexy Uhura), all visited the troops, shook hands, posed for pictures and signed autographs and brought with them a copy of the film for our viewing pleasure…almost a full month before its stateside release. And the two viewings were packed.
J.J. Abrams, best known for creating and excelling at the art of the modern television series, has shown he can helm a damn fine action movie in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III, and starts off STAR TREK with that action in mind, with a Starfleet space battle complete with Michael Bay-ish explosions, an introduction to the villain, and a plot homage to SUPERMAN. We then are introduced to James T. Kirk, a James Dean rebel farm boy with exceptional intellect he likes to show off and a chip on his shoulder. This could be seen as a cliché’, but we realize that we came into the movie knowing of Kirk’s rebellious nature, and liking him for it all these years. It may be cliché’ but he created the cliché’. Chris Pine does a good job of making Kirk likeable, funny and also selling him as someone capable of the greatness we’ve already seen in this character before.
Spock is introduced early as well, a parallel to Kirk, and they are set in conflict against one another early, giving the movie that buddy-cop feel of the two characters with different personalities, different ways of handling things, coming together in the end. Again, that doesn’t feel like a cliché’ because we know the characters and how they’ll eventually get along. They’re difference/similarity is also drawn into their motivations as Kirk lives in the shadow of his father, while Spock is heavily influenced and passionately tied (in a good way) to his mother (a long absent Winona Ryder – check her purse). Zoe Saldana plays a role in this conflict as well, playing the vixen we always knew Uhura was with those short skirts of hers. Not playing a role in the conflict, but still adding their subtle and often humorous touches are Karl Urban as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the origin of whose nickname is newly explained, and Simon Pegg as late arrival comic relief as Scotty.
Eric Bana, does a good job as the villain with limited time, though secretly don’t we all long for the fake pecs of Ricardo Montalban? However, as a warning, the story of the Romulan’s beef with the Federation and with Spock especially involves time travel, making that time travel a key element in the story, which also means they have to spend a substantial part of the middle of the movie explaining those elements, which slows the movie down…and this after a great action sequence with Kirk and John Cho as Sulu. And this is the movie kicking off the summer movie season, so we need more action and explosions, and less dead time for plot summary.
Aside from that, a bad accent on Anton Yelchin as Chekhov, and a somewhat anti-climactic ending (as well as no one yelling “KHAN!!!”), STAR TREK is an exciting, funny buddy action movie set in space, held together by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto doing very well despite the curve and the scrutiny with which they are graded. J.J. Abrams has put together another exceptional action movie, a great start to the summer and a welcome beginning to what could be another multiple movie series.
Much thanks to all the movie stars for their visit here to the troops in Kuwait, we know it isn’t exactly a trip to the Bahamas, and you could be 8 million other places, but you chose to visit the men and women in uniform, and that is greatly appreciated. And even more thanks and praise for bringing the movie along with you. As soon as I got out of the theater I called my friends back in the states to brag at my advanced showing…and that’s really what these things are all about, isn’t it? 7/10