Star Trek (2009)
The reinvention of any popular franchise certainly comes with many risks. Twelve years ago, Casino Royale was hailed as a triumph in rebooting the 007 brand. It was hard edged, back to basics movie that made the spy genre relevant to a contemporary audience, without diluting its source material excessively. Yet this process went a step too far with Quantum of Solace, with a film that simply didn't feel Bond enough. Needless to say, the rights holders corrected this error. The success of the BBC's relaunch of Doctor Who hinged on making the formula accessible to modern viewers. Yet the new format of standalone episodes, celebrity guest stars and an emphasis on action over story, can be difficult to maintain and requires the involvement of top writers to keep the momentum going. Then of course there are the fans.
Considering these points, the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise was a substantial risk. Yet a recent third viewing has verified my initial assessment of a job well done. I personally thought that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, were quite inventive in finding a way to circumnavigate the enormous wealth of existing lore and sundry baggage associated with the iconic franchise. The alternative time line concept certainly allows future sequels to wipe the slate clean if they so choose. Yet reinventing the wheel can be a double-edged sword and although purist fans do not determine the box office success of a movie, they can prove to be a very vocal and negative group to deal with. Hence despite a worldwide gross of $385,680,446 and broad mainstream critical approval, Star Trek has a clear group of detractors.
J.J. Abram certainly succeeded in casting actors that do more than just mimic the performances of the original series. The cast find the right balance between homage to the original cast and defining their own roles and making their own mark. This aspect of the production seems the least disputed and has managed to satisfy a lot of fans expectations. I personally felt that Karl Urban's Leornard "Bones"McCoy, was perhaps the most successful performance getting the tone exactly right. Zachary Quinto was a solid match fro Spock and I could not fault his interpretation of the role. However, the late Leonard Nimoy still remains the focus of every scene he is in. I don't know if it because the man and the character have become so interwoven, or because Spock is simply one of the most intriguing, well written and iconic fictional creations of the last forty years.
One of the outstanding aspects of the previous films in the franchise has been the superb scores, by such great composers as Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner. Michael Giacchino new soundtrack is bold and different but compliments the film exceptionally. He defies the obvious pitfall of utilising Alexander Courage's iconic original theme, too frequently in the movie and chooses to use it at the end. His new main theme is both dignified and portentous. It reinforces the sense of starting anew. The audio design for the entire film is very modern, yet veteran sound engineer Ben Burt still managed to ensure that certain aspects maintained a retro quality.
Star Trek is an integral part of popular culture and it its remarkable that the franchise has been revived so successfully, when you consider how much scope there was to get it wrong. However, the frenetic style of modern cinema is quite evident and the there’s predilection towards resolving conflicts by violence, which potentially flies in the face of Gene Roddenberry's original ideology. But the underlying theme of relationships, friendships, discovering ourselves though others and finding our place in the world still remain. I'm sure in the weeks to come the internet will be filled with information, dissections and pondering over the latest entry in the series, currently being developed by Quentin Tarantino. In the meantime, I am very pleased that something I have always enjoyed has so far been treated with respect and has remained thoroughly entertaining.