Star Trek ★★★★½

This is my fifth logged viewing of Star Trek, including its theatrical opening, though I could have sworn I also watched it with its commentary track at some point. While I've not reviewed it here on Letterboxd, I've talked about it quite a bit elsewhere over these last five years. I don't really have any new insights after this viewing, so I'll instead just hit the highlights of my reactions.

Like many fans of the franchise, I was initially wary of the concept but I left the theater wowed. What impresses most is that I don't see or hear Shatner from Chris Pine, but I do recognize Jim Kirk. Ditto the rest of the cast, who did a terrific job tapping into these old friends of ours without aping the originators of the roles. Surely, this is nothing new in the tradition of stage theater, and we've seen remakes of movies throughout the last century of the medium, but offhand I can't think of very many projects quite like this one, tasking an entire ensemble with taking on bona fide icons.

The notorious lens flares are distracting, but otherwise the cinematography is terrific. The camera is moving in just about every scene, even during the expository dialog exchanges, which imbues the film with a strong kinetic energy. The production design (sometimes derided as the "iBridge" for the ship's aesthetic resemblance to an Apple Store) bears little resemblance to Matt Jeffries's original TV show designs, and yet like the cast, unmistakably evokes the U.S.S. Enterprise.

These key elements all contribute to why the film ultimately succeeds: It feels right. That's doubly impressive for a film that, on paper, maybe shouldn't have worked at all - or even been tried - in the minds of many.

Also, I give credit to Michael Giacchino for composing a genuinely terrific score, appropriately energetic, forlorn, and triumphant. In my estimation, it's in the top quarter of the Trek movie scores, up there with Jerry Goldsmith's The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier, and Cliff Eidelman's The Undiscovered Country work.

The film is, however, style over substance. Star Trek plays like a remake of Top Gun. Nero isn't even a villain so much as a plot device. The scale of these ships is ridiculous, and there's absolutely no way that OSHA ever approved Nero's mining ship. (Seriously, what sadist designs a ship with random planks leading nowhere that don't even have rails?) And I don't even pretend to understand the chain of command protocol of this Starfleet, where a 17 year old can be an ensign navigator and a 25 year old cadet is named first officer on-the-fly.

Those are the things that distract me enough to take me out of the movie; everything else qualifies as a nitpick rather than actual criticism. By the time the movie ended this time, just as at the end of my previous viewings, I'd had fun - and that's something I hadn't had with Star Trek in way too long before this adventure.

Star Trek Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#158/1653)

Star Trek > Jurassic Park III --> #158
Star Trek > After the Sunset --> #158
Star Trek > Chicago --> #158
Star Trek > Transformers: Dark of the Moon --> #103
Star Trek > Ugetsu --> #52
Star Trek < Shaun of the Dead --> #52
Star Trek > Star Trek V: The Final Frontier --> #38
Star Trek > Grumpy Old Men --> #32
Star Trek < American Graffiti --> #32
Star Trek < The Sting --> #32
Star Trek > Pinocchio --> #30

Star Trek was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #30/1653