Posts Tagged ‘Chris Pine’

Director: Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

For as long as we can remember, superhero films have featured protagonists whose motivations consist primarily of a combination of two things: 1) a natural enemy to defeat and 2) someone whose death they feel compelled to avenge. #2 comes around a little less often than #1, but the fact remains that the hero is focused on defeating the villain. #1 is no different in the case of Wonder Woman, as she was born and bred for this purpose. But there is much that is different about her. Apart from Marvel’s Thor, Wonder Woman is unique in that she is the offspring of a god. Having the powers of an immortal god could have easily led to her imposing her will on all of humanity. But that’s not Wonder Woman’s style. She is not the sort who would destroy entire cities to end a threat, or perform a memory wipe on someone just to remove the burden of having to shield them 24/7. What truly helps Wonder Woman to stand out among the crowd is her unwavering desire to save people.

In 2017 Paris, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) stares at an old photograph of herself and others from a century ago, recovered for her by newfound friend, Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. Her memories of a long ago era take her back first to her youth on the island of Themyscira, where she was one among the many of Amazonian warrior women who lived there. The island is obscured from the rest of the world for their (and, more specifically, Diana’s) own protection. Despite the objections of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), Diana begins training for a battle yet to come. That battle, against Ares, the god of war, is one that Zeus (Ares’s father) believed was inevitable, and thus he created Diana through Hippolyta. In Hippolyta’s sister, General Antiope (Robin Wright), the greatest of all warriors on Themyscira, Diana could find no better teacher. Princess Buttercup is a general, now. How cool is that?!

Trouble arrives when a German plane piloted by American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into the water just off the coast of Themyscira. Diana saves Steve, but he was followed, and although the ensuing German assault is soundly defeated, Antiope is killed. The Lasso of Truth forces Steve to reveal the nature of his mission: the theft of a notebook from the laboratory of Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), who is developing mustard gas for the Germans, which indicates the plans to start a higher form of warfare. The Amazonians, up to now, had no idea that World War I was going on around them. Diana believes that this is a sign of Ares’ return, that he is posing as German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), and that it is her duty to find and defeat him.

Having no experience with the outside world, Diana is unaccustomed to a society where women have no say in any matters of importance. As such, there are many awkward moments, both in trying to assert herself and in trying to look the part of a woman living in the 1910s. Perhaps the best example of this is when Diana attempts to walk out onto the streets of London whilst carrying both her sword and shield. Not exactly the type of thing that would help her to “blend in”! At the War Council, Steve barges in and delivers the notebook, but is barred from taking any further action. An armistice with Germany is in the works, and they don’t want anything mucking it up. Steve is a soldier, and as such is willing to (reluctantly) accept orders once they are given, but Diana (whom Steve has introduced as Diana Prince) sees only foolishness in failing to act. One member of the council, Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) agrees to help them covertly.

After putting a team together, Steve and Diana head for Belgium. At the Western Front, the team finds what appears to them to be an impasse. In what has to go down as the movie’s greatest scene… perhaps one of the greatest scenes of ANY superhero film… Diana climbs from the trenches and walks through No man’s land, using her bracelets and her shield to deflect all incoming enemy fire. This moment is as breathtaking as it is inspirational. A village is liberated, and the photograph from the film’s opening scene is taken. Afterwards, Steve and Diana share a moment of intimacy. Alas, though the battle may be won, the war is far from over.

Diana tracks down and attempts to kill Ludendorff, but Steve stops her, believing that their mission to stop the gas attack would be compromised. Ludendorff subsequently orders a test of the gas on the very town which Diana and Steve just rescued. Distraught by the senseless loss of life and beginning to lose her faith in humanity, Diana lashes out at Steve and continues her pursuit of Ludendorff. Finding him once again, Diana does not fail in her mission to kill Ludendorff, yet she is puzzled. If Ares is now dead, why then does the war continue? That question is answered quickly. Out of nowhere, Sir Patrick appears, declaring himself to be Ares.

All along, Diana has assumed that Ares has been controlling the thoughts and actions of the Germans. In an attempt to simultaneously break her spirit and cause his sister to join him, Ares explains to Diana that he hasn’t deprived humanity of its free will, that it is they who choose to be evil. While this is going on, Steve pilots a plane carrying the mustard gas high into the sky where, in an act of self-sacrifice, he can detonate it safely. Despite some cheer-leading from Ares, Diana chooses not to murder a defenseless Doctor Poison, instead reassured and inspired by Steve’s final words to her as well as his final act, both of which were born from love. It is through the power of love… Diana’s love for Steve and for all of humanity… that Diana is able to summon the energy that has always existed within her to ultimately defeat her brother, once and for all.

Wonder Woman was already recognizable as being (easily) the best part of 2016’s Batman v Superman. As the star of her very own movie, the Princess of Themyscira makes 2017’s Wonder Woman one of the very best superhero movies ever made. Apart from the rather timely message of love conquering hate, Wonder Woman also features terrific set design (owing to its World War I setting), a great supporting cast (in which Chris Pine is the standout), and a powerful score by Rupert Gregson-Williams. Not since John Williams’ Superman (1978) and Danny Elfman’s Batman (1989) scores has a superhero been blessed with such appropriate music, particularly the track “Wonder Woman’s Wrath.” Incidentally, when Wonder Woman returns in Fall 2017 for Justice League, Danny Elfman will provide the music.

Finally, there’s Gal Gadot herself. A former Israeli model who owes her first big break in Hollywood (2011’s Fast Five) to actor Vin Diesel, Gadot’s hiring for Wonder Woman was widely criticized. So was Michael Keaton for 1989’s Batman, as well as Heath Ledger for 2008’s The Dark Knight. Unfairly, Gadot’s criticism had more to with her body shape than anything else. Gadot turned out not just to be a good choice, but a perfect choice. Like those before her who’ve entered the superhero genre and succeeded as mightily as Gal Gadot has with Wonder Woman, Gadot’s name will forever be synonymous with her character. For as long as Gadot wields the Lasso of Truth as Diana Prince, I will always be appreciative of what she brings to the table.

Advertisements

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Director: Justin Lin

Starring: John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella

Few apart from Gene Roddenberry himself might have dared to dream that we’d be talking about “Star Trek” in 2016, let alone that there would still be new stories being told. It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. In celebrating its 50th anniversary, the franchise has indeed reached ‘beyond’ all expectations. Five live-action television series (soon to be six!), an animated series and thirteen motion pictures later, “Star Trek” has made an immeasurable impact on a fan base that spans several generations.

Still, I feel uneasy. The new “Star Trek” films have been critically well-received, but haven’t done as thorough a job of pleasing the fans as they set out to do. It is true that these new films have relied heavily on action and the rehashing of old plots/dialogue, and that has become a problem for them. Many no longer recognize this as “Star Trek,” certainly not the “Trek” they’ve known all their lives. But, before we go about accusing these films of being creatively bankrupt, let’s stop for a moment and think back to the state that the franchise was in before J.J. Abrams came to the rescue!

In the third year of their planned five-year mission of space exploration (setting the film in the year 2263), the crew of the Enterprise has earned a brief respite at the Federation space station Yorktown. The vastness of space has caused some of the crew to lose sight of their sense of purpose. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), whose birthday has him lamenting the fact that he has outlived his father, is considering accepting a promotion to Vice Admiral. He would have Spock (Zachary Quinto) replace him as Captain, but Kirk does not know of his first officer’s own personal dilemma. Spock’s relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has ended as the result of Spock feeling obligated to do his part in repopulating his species. On top of that, Spock has received word that the elder Spock from the Prime Universe has died. It ends up as a truly touching way for “Star Trek Beyond” to deal with the real-life passing of actor Leonard Nimoy in February 2015.

Neither Kirk nor Spock can seem to find the time to tell each other about their plans, and they don’t get the chance. An escape pod arrives at Yorktown, its lone occupant telling of how her ship and crew are in trouble and need assistance. If it smells like a setup, it is. Sure enough, upon reaching the planet Altamid, the Enterprise is quickly attacked and destroyed by a swarm of ships (and, yes, swarm is the accurate term since the word ‘bees’ is used to describe them). The crew abandons ship via the escape pods, but most are taken captive, including Uhura and Sulu (John Cho). The commander of the attacking force, an alien named Krall (Idris Elba), led the assault in the hope of locating an artifact which the Enterprise picked up on its most recent mission.

The few who weren’t picked up by their new enemies are now split up into groups of two. Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) and a wounded Spock have a bonding session over Spock’s concerns about his future and that of the Vulcan race. Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) hunt aboard the Enterprise’s saucer section for the missing artifact (which is actually in the possession of another crew member) before killing the alien traitor in their midst.

Scotty (Simon Pegg) lands on the planet by himself, but soon meets and befriends Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), an alien whose people Krall had previously captured and killed. Jaylah instantly recognizes the Starfleet insignia on Scotty’s uniform because she’s seen it prominently displayed on board her home: the “Star Trek: Enterprise”-era Federation starship U.S.S. Franklin, previously thought lost in 2163. If you’re thinking it’s strange that the Franklin would be sitting on the planet’s surface untouched for 100 years while the Enterprise gets blown to hell upon arrival, you’re not alone. But there’s good reason for it.

It turns out that Krall used to be the Franklin’s captain, Balthazar Edison, and that his two main henchmen were also members of the Franklin’s crew. Stranded on Altamid, Edison believed he’d been abandoned by the Federation and plotted his revenge. As to how he and the others have survived this long, they made use of technology left behind by the planet’s original inhabitants, accounting for their decidedly alien physical appearance. Krall has a weapon which drains human life force, and the artifact which he has now acquired was the missing half of it. If he uses the weapon on Yorktown, which is his plan, it will kill every living thing inside.

All throughout the movie, Krall has taunted the Enterprise crew with the idea that their unity is their weakness. After reuniting aboard the Franklin, Kirk & Co. show Krall just how wrong he is. In fact, they prove that it is Krall’s ships whose reliance on unity can be exploited. Earlier, Jaylah had demonstrated to Scotty that the Franklin can pick up VHF radio transmissions, including loud music. Cranking it up to disable Krall’s ‘bees,’ Kirk instantly recognizes the Beastie Boys’ song “Sabotage,” calling it a ‘good choice.’

Now more closely resembling his former human self, Krall attempts to personally plant his weapon inside Yorktown, but is vented out into space by Kirk. Afterwards, Kirk changes his mind about the promotion to Vice Admiral, and even helps Jaylah apply to Starfleet Academy. Spock also decides to remain with Starfleet after going through Spock Prime’s personal effects… which include a photo of the Prime Universe Enterprise bridge crew (from “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”). Meanwhile, construction begins on the next starship to bear the name Enterprise, NCC-1701-A. The film ends with dedications to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, who tragically died in June 2016.

So, yes, we have another revenge plot. Yes, the Enterprise is destroyed again. And, yes, this lines up with the previous two films in its closer resemblance to an action flick than the “Star Trek” of old. But while this new series of films may be lacking in originality, it makes up for it with heart. The cast’s performances have never been stronger. The genius of “Star Trek Beyond” was the choice of splitting the team into pairs which hadn’t been given proper interaction in the previous two films. Also, we finally get some serious screen time for the Big Three (Kirk, Spock & McCoy), which is a must for any “Star Trek” project. If only the villains were as effective… although the movie does a decent job of building them up as a credible threat. Ultimately, Krall pales in comparison with either Khan or Admiral Marcus from “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but I prefer him over Nero from 2009’s “Star Trek.”

The breakout star of the film is Algerian actress Sofia Boutella. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her as a result of her exposure here. Actor/screenwriter Simon Pegg did not initially have a name for Boutella’s strong female character, nicknaming her “Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone” before shortening it to Jaylah.

I managed not to say anything about the musical score in either of the first two films, when perhaps I should have. Michael Giacchino’s scores for those films were each superior to this one, with one exception. Giacchino’s version of the original TV series theme by Alexander Courage, which plays over the end credits of each film, now comes equipped with bongos (which, as die-hard fans know, it always should have)!

My opinion of the new Trek films is reflected by my opinion of their villains. Thus, I still prefer “Star Trek Into Darkness, ” but I enjoyed “Star Trek Beyond” more than I do “Star Trek” (2009). I also adore the fact that “Star Trek Beyond” contains no lens flares, whatsoever! I hope to see more from this cast. A fourth film is already being talked about, but it is of course contingent upon the box office performance of “Beyond.” As of right now, the future remains uncertain.

“Star Trek” is like an old friend to me. No matter what changes it goes through, I don’t want to be out of contact for any longer than we have to be. But if the film series is destined to go on hiatus once again, it should do so with its proverbial head held high.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin

I’ll start this off by saying I understand that a large portion of my fellow Trek fans have no love for “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but also that I do not share those feelings. At a convention in 2013, just after the film’s release, a poll was taken which ranked the series from best to worst. “Star Trek Into Darkness” came in dead last. Much of it has to do with the fact that this movie is a “Wrath of Khan” redo. But why should that be such a big deal? The last two movies pulled the same card… with vastly different degrees of success. But those were only half measures. “Star Trek Into Darkness” succeeds where “Star Trek” (2009) could not by dropping the pretense and actually including the character of Khan in this new universe. The result is a superbly-acted, thrilling and superior sequel.

The film opens one year after the events of “Star Trek,” with the Enterprise crew preventing a volcano from destroying the home planet of a primitive species. At the same time, they also break Starfleet’s Prime Directive by revealing themselves in order to save Spock (Zachary Quinto) from certain death. Due to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine)’s blatant disregard for the rules… and Spock’s ignorance of the fact that he, too, was in violation of Starfleet’s non-interference policy… Kirk is demoted to first officer and Spock is reassigned.

Before they can become acclimated to their new posts, a new threat has emerged. John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a member of Starfleet’s secret security force Section 31, has perpetrated a terrorist attack on London. His next act is to attack the high ranking members of Starfleet who convene to discuss the threat. In a scene which looks remarkably similar to one from “The Godfather Part III,” Harrison flies in and kills almost everyone in the room. This includes Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who was promoted to Admiral at the end of the previous film and was just about to assume command of the Enterprise for the second time.

Having never known his own father in this universe, Kirk had come to think of Pike as a sort of father figure, and is devastated by his loss. Kirk asks Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) for his and Spock’s reinstatments to their original positions on board the Enterprise, as well as for permission to hunt down John Harrison, who has fled to Kronos, the home of the hostile Klingons. The ship is outfitted with 72 special long-range torpedoes, which prompts Scotty (Simon Pegg) to resign as chief engineer.

Upon arrival at Kronos, the Enterprise’s engines mysteriously fail, meaning that they cannot simply fire at Harrison from a safe distance and then “haul ass.” Instead, Kirk, Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) fly down to the planet’s surface to find Harrison. An unhappy band of Klingons intercepts them, but are annihilated by Harrison who suspiciously surrenders himself. Kirk and crew soon learn why when Harrison suggests they open one of the new torpedoes. Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban)… with the help of Admiral Marcus’s daughter, Carol (Alice Eve)… is successful in doing this. The torpedo, as with the other 71, is revealed to be the housing for a 300 year old cryotube containing a superhuman. Harrison then reveals his true identity to be that of the exiled late 20th century superhuman/dictator Khan Noonien Singh.

Khan details how it was Admiral Marcus who found and awoke Khan from his centuries of slumber so that he could develop weapons to bolster the Federation’s defense against the Klingons, with whom Marcus believes war is imminent. He tells that it was Admiral Marcus who ensured that the Enterprise’s warp drive would fail, so that they would be martyrs in a Klingon attack. Khan also gives coordinates which Kirk passes along to Scotty, who follows his instructions to the planet Jupiter. There, Scotty discovers the U.S.S. Vengeance: a much larger, faster and more well-armed starship built specifically for war and capable of being run by only one person. The Vengeance, commanded by Admiral Marcus, intercepts the Enterprise and demands the release of Khan.

When Kirk orders the Enterprise to flee to Earth instead, the Vengeance catches up and disables the ship near the Moon. The Enterprise is just about to be destroyed when Scotty, secretly aboard the Vengeance, temporarily powers down her weapons systems. This buys Kirk and Khan enough time to transfer over to the Vengeance, Iron Man-style. Once there, they make their way to the bridge where Khan kills the Admiral. Carol, whom the Admiral had transported over, watches in horror. As Kirk had suspected he might, Khan betrays them.

Spock, upon consultation with his elder self (Leonard Nimoy, in his final film role), devises a strategy to defeat Khan. He bargains for the return of Kirk, Scotty and Carol while giving Khan the torpedoes before exploding them in the Vengeance cargo bay. As Spock is no cold-blooded murderer, he had McCoy extract Khan’s friends (still in their cryotubes) from the torpedoes before the transport. Khan crash lands the Vengeance into San Francisco, completely destroying Alcatraz Island and leading to an untold number of casualties. Meanwhile, the Enterprise’s engines are misaligned, leading Kirk to sacrifice himself to save the ship. Spock means to kill Khan (who survived the Vengeance’s crash), but Uhura persuades him not to when McCoy learns it is possible to use Khan’s blood to restore Kirk to life. One year later, the Enterprise sets out on a five-year mission of space exploration.

This being their second outing, the cast feels like they’ve settled into their roles, in particular Chris Pine who, while excellent in “Star Trek” appeared apprehensive at times. No longer. There will only ever be one William Shatner, but the role of Kirk is safe in the capable hands of Chris Pine. He’s got a great supporting cast to help him out. As in the previous film, the arguments between Quinto’s Spock and Urban’s McCoy really stand out.

The villains are also much improved. You would think that Benedict Cumberbatch would automatically be the scene stealer in this movie. His is one of the most attention-grabbing voices you’re ever likely to hear. But, impressively, he’s not even the movie’s best villain. That’s Peter Weller’s Admiral Marcus, one of my favorite Trek bad guys of all-time. Weller plays Marcus like a 23rd Century Dick Cheney (which is no accident, as it was the intent of screenwriter Roberto Orci). A warmonger of the highest order, Marcus’s high-ranking position in Starfleet makes him as great a threat as any genetically-engineered despot.

In spite of my consistent belief that “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” will never be topped, my general unease when it comes to the subject of remakes, and my loyalty to the original Trek, I find I have nothing but love for “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I don’t care that many scenes and pieces of dialogue are unashamedly lifted from “Star Trek II,” or that Kirk’s death scene is a direct role reversal of the same (and much more impactful) one for Spock from the 1982 classic. It matters not that Kirk is almost immediately revived, since the original TV show pulled that stunt several times. I don’t care that Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t even remotely resemble Ricardo Montalban’s Khan, or that Carol Marcus now has a British accent. In fact, I don’t much care about any of the concerns raised by most fans. All I care about is whether or not the movie entertains me. “Into Darkness” does that job better than many “Star Trek” movies have.

 

Star Trek (2009)

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Leonard Nimoy

One of the most popular episodes of the original “Star Trek” TV series was “Mirror, Mirror.” In this episode, as the result of a bizarre transporter malfunction, members of the Enterprise crew found themselves in an alternate universe where humans were savage conquerors, not peaceful explorers. The Mirror Universe was as unrecognizable to our heroes as it could possibly get.

By 2009, Trek fans were four years into the franchise’s first legitimate hiatus since the cancellation of the original series in 1969, and we were starved for new stories. When director J.J. Abrams came to the rescue with his “Star Trek” reboot, what he brought to the table was an exciting tale which erased the banality of early 2000s Trek, dared to take heavy risks, and did it all despite only superficially resembling the franchise that we knew and loved.

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a rebellious womanizer whose father, George (Chris Hemsworth) died saving hundreds of his fellow crewmen, his wife and newborn son from a Romulan attack. It’s been 22 years since that day, and now Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) challenges the young Kirk to join Starfleet and become a better, braver officer than his father ever was. As of the year 2258, Kirk has nearly completed the four-year Academy course in just three, but he faces discipline for cheating the final exam. Instead of being grounded, he is snuck on board the Enterprise by Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban).

It turns out that the Narada, the same massive Romulan vessel which destroyed George Kirk’s ship, has returned after 25 years to attack the Federation planet Vulcan, home to the peaceful cousins of the warlike Romulans. These Romulans are from the year 2387 and their captain, Nero (Eric Bana), has been driven mad with grief over the loss of his wife and his home planet to a supernova. He blames this tragedy on Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who had been working on a solution to the problem but was too late to save Romulus.

Nero’s vengeance includes marooning the just-arrived Spock on a nearby planet. Meanwhile, the younger Spock (Zachary Quinto) assumes command of the Enterprise when Captain Pike is held captive for interrogation by Nero. Kirk leads an away team that includes helmsman Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) to disable the Romulan drill that is currently burrowing a hole through to Vulcan’s core. This allows for time enough to evacuate as much of the population as possible, but does not prevent the Romulans from destroying the planet. Spock personally beams down to lead the Vulcan Science Council to safety. This includes his parents, Sarek (Ben Cross) and the human Amanda (Winona Ryder). However, Amanda is killed before she can be transported.

While trying to process his unimaginable loss, Spock is further antagonized by Kirk, whom he maroons on the planet Delta Vega. It is here that Kirk comes face-to-face with the elder Spock, who lets him in on the fact that he does indeed feel emotion and that it is essential that Kirk develop a friendship with Spock. The engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Simon Pegg) is also on Delta Vega, and he and Kirk return to the Enterprise so that Kirk can convince Spock to step down as captain and relinquish command to him.

As all of this is happening, Nero has extended his plans beyond Vulcan. He means to destroy all of the worlds of the Federation, the thought being that their absence would ensure the safety of Romulus. His next target is, of course, Earth. Isn’t it always?!

Kirk and Spock, on more cordial terms now, beam over to the Narada to rescue Captain Pike. Meanwhile, the Romulans have started their drilling, the cutting beam directed near San Francisco, California and Starfleet Headquarters. Spock finds the elder Spock’s ship still in the Narada’s cargo bay, flies it out to destroy the drill and leads the Narada away from Earth. Enraged, Nero orders Spock’s ship destroyed, despite his crew’s reminder of the dangerous, black hole-creating material that the ship carries. The Enterprise comes to the rescue, destroying the Narada’s torpedoes. Spock sets his ship on a collision course with the Narada and is beamed away just before impact. The resulting black hole destroys the Narada (with assistance from the Enterprise).

After the dreary, dismal failure of “Star Trek: Nemesis,” just about any kind of movie would have been considered a step up. 2009’s “Star Trek” is fresh, exciting, and funny in just the right places. Amazingly, it’s also a “Wrath of Khan” do-over with Romulans, complete with a depiction of the Kobayashi Maru test. The twist this time is that it’s Spock who is the target of the villain’s revenge, not Kirk.

The new cast blends together quite well. Chris Pine is a fine series lead. Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin (as Ensign Pavel Chekov) do the best job of convincing me they are who they’re supposed to be. In particular, I can see much of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley in the banter between the new Spock and McCoy.

It’s the environment that surrounds these characters which becomes a source of criticism for “Star Trek.” (That, and J.J. Abrams’ relentless obsession with intentional lens flares!) Little about Earth, the Enterprise, or the Romulans in this movie remind me of their counterparts in what’s now called the Prime Universe. The Romulans, in particular are a problem given that I’m supposed to believe they come from the original timeline/universe. I shouldn’t gripe about them too much, though, since fans in 1979 who were watching “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” for the first time probably felt the same way about the then-new look for the Klingons.

Through dialogue, it is implied that what we are watching here is an alternate timeline created when the Romulans arrived and destroyed the starship Kelvan (killing George Kirk).Here’s the problem: This ‘timeline’ already looked different before the Narada fired the first shot. This leads me to believe that this isn’t like in “Back to the Future” where you go back to a point in the past that is still familiar (based on memory/stories), make some changes, and it alters the present. It must be closer in spirit to “Mirror, Mirror,” wherein an entirely different universe exists. 2009’s “Star Trek” takes this approach a step further, with physical appearance changing along with behavior. Or, I could just be thinking too damn hard.

In any case, “Star Trek” is a bold adventure. Risky moves like the death of Amanda and the destruction of Vulcan would pretty much immediately kill the momentum of any other film in the franchise. But we’re in new territory now, and although some things can still happen in the same manner, nothing is written in stone and no one is 100% safe. This is not my father’s “Star Trek,” nor is it what I grew up with… but that’s okay. The sky is once again the limit.