Star Trek: First footage reviewed
Review by Rob Carnevale
ON TUESDAY, November 11, 2008, director JJ Abrams unveiled first footage of the new Star Trek movie to a select group of journalists in London’s Leicester Square.
The footage – comprised of four scenes – generally impressed most of the 400 people who attended. We deliver our verdict on what’s been shown so far, ahead of the film’s release on May 8, 2009.
Warning: the content below contains spoilers…
SCENE ONE – Kirk’s introduction
The first of the four scenes unveiled by JJ Abrams showed a young James T Kirk (Chris Pine) propping up a bar and attempting to sweet-talk Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Rather than fall for his charms, however, Uhura gives as good as she gets until a burly Starfleet cadet steps forward to defend her honour.
Seconds later, Kirk has punched out three eager Starfleet cadets, only to find himself pinned to a table by a fourth and having to be saved by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who subsequently gives him a paternal pep talk and “dares” him to sign up for the Academy.
The sequence ends with Kirk considering his options while riding his speeder bike across a desert landscape (looking suspiciously like a Star Wars set) and then looking up at a still under construction Enterprise.
It’s a nice segment that combines moments of genuine humour with hard-hitting action, and displays Abrams keen ear for snappy dialogue and sharp eye for detail. Greenwood, in particular, emerges with a lot of the acting credit.
SCENE TWO – Kirk steals aboard the Enterprise
Having failed to land a Starship posting, Kirk is smuggled upon the Enterprise by his close friend Bones (Karl Urban), who has given him a mystery serum to fake an illness.
Within moments of coming around, however, Kirk has to contend with an adverse reaction to the serum (swollen hands and tongue) while attempting to warn Captain Pike that their latest rescue mission is, in fact, a trap that could lead to their premature demise.
One hyper-jump later, and we’re into the thick of the action… then darkness.
This second scene was a particularly tantalising scene-setter that underlines Abrams’ apparent intent to fuse silly humour with hard-hitting, spectacular action and numerous nods to the series origins.
Anton Yelchin’s linguistically challenged Chekov drew a lot of laughs for having to repeat his lines more clearly, while Urban seems to have got to grips with DeForest Kelley’s gruffness under pressure.
The pace of the sequence is also full throttle, with viewers invited to be a part of the wild ride that’s about to ensue.
SCENE THREE – Kirk meets future Spock and Scotty
The scene that Star Trek purists will probably love the most… quite simply because it features Leonard Nimoy!
While newcomers may be interested to see how Simon Pegg’s Scotty comes into proceedings (complete with a competent, if unnecessarily thick Scottish accent), the die-hards will love the time afforded to Nimoy’s veteran.
Kirk hooks up with this future Spock after being dumped from the Enterprise by an irate present Spock (are you keeping up?).
But their meeting is crucial not only in enabling Kirk to get back on the Enterprise to take control, but also to empower Scotty to create (and invent) the ship’s all-important transporter.
The scene again combines plenty of humour (mostly from Pegg) with some nice emotional touches – not least when Nimoy candidly informs Kirk that he learned about breaking the rules “from an old friend” (any guesses who?). Nimoy also gets to utter the classic Star Trek line: “Live long and prosper.”
If you had any lingering doubts that Abrams was the right man for the job, then this scene should surely erase them completely.
SCENE FOUR – Action!
Admittedly, this was the least involving of the sequences as it showcased the action and special effects more than the characters.
But even so, Abrams appears to be throwing everything at the screen – from the obligatory death scene of a hapless red-shirted crew member to a Sulu sword fight and a glimpse of Eric Bana’s sneering villain.
The set pieces look big, the action breathless and the effects seamless – while everything unfolds on a very grand scale. Gone completely are the cheesy sets of old, replaced by state-of-the-art sfx.
We already know that Abrams can deliver spectacle (remember his bridge heist sequence from Mission: Impossible III?) but with even more money at his disposal, he’s clearly left no dollar unturned in making sure we’re sitting perilously close to the edge of our seats.
Star Trek may have its sceptics but on the evidence of the footage so far shown (as well as a decent new trailer) it looks set to boldly appeal to more film fans than it ever has before.