From The Balcony
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Review by Mark Edgemon
How do you make something old, new again? First, you create a plot for
an alternate universe reality, then you change the nature of the space
time continuum so your present self can be influenced by your future
more experienced self and finally, infuse the cast with vibrant,
youthful versions of the characters from the iconic original series and
you have a formula for warping into new adventures throughout the next
7 to 8 star trek movie installments, while reliving the past all over
again in a new and exciting way.
This has got to be the greatest origins/prequel movie since the
beginning of filmmaking. The task set before the Star Trek franchise
was as vast as space itself; recapture the Star Trek fan base, while
opening up the characters and storyline to a whole new generation. They
The writers Roberto Orci and Alan Kurtzman (who teamed up previously
with the television series, “Xena: Warrior Princess) had a
balancing act I would not wish upon any writer, staying true to the
continuity of the Star Trek lore established through 5 television
series, 10 feature films, dozens of novels and comic books and oh yes,
1 short lived, animated cartoon series produced in the
1970’s. Add to that; making the story interesting
and relevant to today’s culture with plenty of action, drama
and comedy, painting a picture of what it was like during the time of
the original series, while refreshing the technology from the more
outdated version was an epic undertaking. After all, even a basic cell
phone today does more than an original Star Trek communicator.
Director J. J. Abrams wipes the slate clean by ripping the fabric of
time through the alternate universe premise and yet begins a process of
tying the character backgrounds in with earlier references to previous
Star Trek history and merging them with new character experiences.
In this reality, Ambassador Spock, now in the remaining years of his
life, is on a mission to save Romulus from a volatile Super Nova by
depositing a substance known as “red matter” (which
is processed from a rare mineral called Decalithium) into the gaseous,
soon exploding star in order to create a black hole, thereby imploding
the Super Nova and saving the planet Romulus from destruction.
But something went terribly wrong and the star exploded before
Ambassador Spock could complete his mission and ultimately Romulus is
destroyed along with the planet’s population. A new villain
emerges, Captain Nero of a Romulan mining vessel whose ship, along with
ambassador Spock’s ship is caught in the black
hole’s event horizon and sent 154 years into the past with
the Romulan captain arriving first, followed by Spock’s ship
25 years later. Seconds can translate into years when dealing with time
travel. Captain Nero intends to cause the same fate to the planet
Vulcan as happened to Romulus, so he captures Spock and maroons him on
the planet Delta Vega for the purpose of making him witness the same
destruction to his home planet of Vulcan.
As Captain Nero enters the past, a lightning storm causes the
Federation ship; the U. S. S. Kelvin led by Captain George Kirk to
investigate and is crippled by Captain Nero’s more advanced
weaponry. As his ship is being destroyed, George saves the lives of the
800 members of his crew and his wife, who is in the process of having a
son in the midst of all the chaos. As seconds tick away before the
destruction of the Kelvin, George decides with his wife on audio
communication who is on an escaping shuttle, to name his
son’s first name after her father and his middle name after
his father, James Tiberius Kirk. Wow, what an entrance!
As a young man, reckless and yet highly gifted, Jim Kirk is mentored by
a friend of his father, Captain Christopher Pike and is influenced to
enter Star Fleet and focus his energy into a worthwhile purpose. The
movie sets the stage for each of the main characters relationships as
the young Kirk discovers his destiny through experience and
Chris Pine makes a believable James T. Kirk without capturing the
mannerisms or speech patterns of William Shatner’s Kirk and
yet personifies the three main attributes of the character; instinct,
decisiveness and a over abundance of self confidence.
Zachary Quinto is a carbon copy of the original Mr. Spock, except much
younger and still developing the acceptance of his duality of
perspective, being half human and half Vulcan. The relationship between
Kirk and Spock are hostile at first, but develops as they are forced to
work together to save Earth and the crew of the Enterprise.
Karl Urban also previously worked on “Xena” as the
characters Caesar and Cupid, brought Leonard McCoy to life, with even
his appearance mirroring the late doctor’s image. Dr. McCoy
has more comic undertones in this send up which is well played by
Urban. Karl made you forget you were watching him instead of the
original actor in younger form.
Zoe Saldana was an even more exotic Lt. Uhura if that is possible than
the original Nichelle Nichols. Her acting was believable and may I
say…she is HOT! In the alternate universe, she has a love
affair with Mr. Spock, which fathoms the mind. We always thought there
was an underlying interest in Captain Kirk in the original series, but
she spurns him time and again in this version of events.
John Cho as Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty and Anton Yelchin as Chekov were
all believable and yet they added new dimensions to each of their
After the last remaining credit faded from the screen, I was approached
by the theatre janitor who wanted to know what I thought of the movie.
I told him it was incredible. He said he had never watched the other
Star Trek movies or television series, but he loved the movie and had
seen it 3 times to date. He said there are other good movies out this
summer, but this one was the best by far. Being an employee of the
giant 18-theatre multi-plex, he could see the movies for free and he
had, many times. “It was perfect for his generation who had
never seen the original Star Trek. These are now his characters. You
can take it from me” he said, “This is the best
movie of the summer!”
© 2009 Mark Edgemon
Mark Edgemon is a writer in his spare mind and runs a studio production company during the day.
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