Star Trek

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday November 22, 2009

Star Trek

J.J. Abrams' take on Star Trek is nothing less than a full-out reboot of the venerable franchise. Rather than strike out in a different direction by establishing a new ship and crew or pushing the Trek time-line ahead by yet another century, Abrams and his writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, simply went back to the beginning and changed it all up by setting their adventure in an alternate universe, where Cap'n Kirk's birth coincides with the arrival, from the far future, of a maddened Romulan bent on destruction and vengeance.

The Romulan is Nero (Eric Bana) and, as suits a literary descendant of Captain Nemo, his bad-ass ship is a gigantic space-going version of the Nautilus: a spiky, planet-ravaging mining ship that shrugs Federation ships aside in a flurry of torpedoes and destruction. Scratch the U.S.S. Kelvin and Kirk's dad, Lt. George Kirk, along with it.

Kirk (Chris Pine) grows up to be a bar-brawling hellion; only the intervention of Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) saves him from a wasted life. Kirk goes to Starfleet, meets Spock (Zachary Quinto), and promptly becomes enmeshed once again in Nero's evil plans: after a quarter century, Nero is back to intercept another ship from the future: this one piloted by the elder original series Spock (Leonard Nimoy). All that stands between the Federation and galactic armageddon is... you guessed it... the newly-built U.S.S. Enterprise and her crew, who are fated to become interplanetary heroes.

The two-disc DVD edition features theatrical trailers of other Abrams projects (the TV series Fringe) and films by Orci and Kurtzman (they also wrote the Transformers movies), but that's the extent of the lameness quotient. The other special features are made with wit and style--some of them starting off like episodes of the old TV series, with the ship whooshing by and the "stars" of the featurettes being given credit.

"A New Vision," "To Boldly Go," and "Casting" all take a closer look at the daunting task of restarting a sci-fi franchise that was getting pretty tattered after more than four decades, and the delicate balance between creating something new and honoring everything that came before. "Casting," especially, touches on the original series versus the new movie, with fresh-faced cast members like Zoe Saldana (she plays Uhura) meeting the originators of their roles. (Quinto and Nimoy in a classic moment: Nimoy warns his younger peer about the danger of typecasting--"You're screwed!")

"Aliens" and "Score" respectively spotlight the special makeup designs and creature effects, and take us into the recording studio with frequent Abrams collaborator, composer Michael Giacchino. (Evidently, nothing says 23rd century like a Chinese violin.)

There's also an audio commentary--with the filmmakers infectiously enthusing about the movie, the special effects, the actors, the whole enterprise, if you will--and, juiciest of all, a clutch of deleted and extended scenes that fill in some blanks (how did Kirk manage to sabotage the infamous Kobayashi Maru test? Er, actually, by being a cad. Where were Nero and his crew for all that time? Guests of the Klingons on prison planet Rura Penthe) and provide a bit more background (didn't Kirk have an older brother in the original series? Yes: and we see him here). A gag reel rounds things out, with fluffed dialogue, hilarious ad-libs, and dance routines.

There's also a digital copy of the movie, in case you'd rather watch it on your iPhone, and a preview of a new video game, Star Trek: D-A-C.

The Blue-Ray edition includes a third disc and lots of additional special features, including featurettes focusing on starship design, the different planets visited in the movie, and the film's sound design, plus a Nimoy-narrated featurette about Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Special Features include:
- Theatrical trailers
- Audio commentary
- Deleted scenes
- Gag Reel
- Featurettes: "A New Vision," "To Boldly Go," "Casting," "Aliens," "Score"
- Digital copy
- Star Trek: D-A-C video game trial

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.