Making the Grades
The Star Trek universe has been silent over the past few years, leaving diehard fans with little to do but collect past movies and television episodes on Blu-ray discs. However, with the unveiling of this film, which fills in the backstory of the heroes from the original series, there is potential for a bold new injection of story ideas and discoveries in this perpetual franchise.
Romulans are the big problem on this voyage, thanks to a rogue spacecraft that has adapted some high tech equipment into a weapon of revenge. But on Earth, isolated on the Iowa plains, a young and rebellious James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) could care less about space politics— that is until Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) discovers the scrappy and drunken youth in the middle of a bar fight with Federation cadets. Aware of his father’s stellar Starfleet service, Pike convinces Kirk to join the ranks.
Meanwhile, many light-years away, a young Spock (Zachary Quinto) faces humiliation on his planet due to his mixed Vulcan-Human ancestry. Feeling he will forever be considered inferior compared to his purely logical colleagues, he too embarks on a journey to Starfleet Academy. There he will ultimately begin a tenuous relationship with Kirk and many other characters familiar to movie audiences worldwide.
These rookie officers find themselves pressed into service when the Romulan issue becomes critical. Although the bad guys play the catalyst of the plot and provide reason for the many impressive action sequences, the core of the story really revolves around Kirk and Spock. For those who have wondered how these two divergent personalities—one driven by logic, the other by gut reaction—ever managed to learn to work together, this movie will answer that question, and many more.
The performers playing these characters (all of whom were developed before the cast of this movie ever walked the Earth) literally have a hard act to follow. Thankfully, they deliver very credible representations of the people we (speaking for those of us who Stardate back a little longer) know so well. The well-written screenplay gives them great material to work with too. Visually amazing, with a great sense of the depth and scale of space, this production may become one of the best-loved cinematic treks.
There is also a good chance parents will find this new Trek suitable for teen viewers. Not wallowing entirely in darkness, like so many action flicks, this space adventure offers positive messages about overcoming differences and building a team. For families, violence will likely be the greatest concern, with portrayals similar in intensity to previous Trek movies like First Contact. Depictions of hand-to-hand combat with bloodied injuries are frequent (including an impaling), along with death and destruction involving futuristic weapons. Sexually is limited to some innuendo and a brief scene between a semi-clothed man and woman who are interrupted before things get too serious. And the script includes intermittent profanities, which are limited to mild expletives and a few terms of deity.
Catering to longtime enthusiasts with ample inside humor (watch for iconic lines interwoven with the dialogue), while attracting newcomers with a well-paced story and visual effects, exploring Star Trek’s origins is certain to open this final frontier to a whole new generation.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Star Trek.
What events in the life of James T. Kirk contributed to his decisions as a young man? How did Spocks childhood affect his personality? What adjustments do the characters need to make in their lives before they can successfully work together? Do you think people actually change, or do they simply learn to control their emotions and reactions?