For the record, this is the only Star Trek movie to appear on this list, although I did enjoy Wrath of Khan. This is a movie with more meta-mythology than anything resembling Borg or Avery Brooks, being a J.J. Abrams vehicle — some have hilariously pointed out it is perhaps a demo reel for Star Wars 7 candidacy — and a reboot of a classic series.
Much like how Transformers and Iron Man were successful, Star Trek (2009) works because it’s a plainly good script. Transformers and Iron Man made the best of material that appeals to me not at all, and in the case of the former, transcends the source and yet only goes so far. Trek is a story about the rise of a hero, one who plays dirty but knows what must be done. So he’s going to, for example, wrest control of the Enterprise from Spock, at the behest of Spock, and so two arcs weave in and out.
Plot holes and shoddy motivations be damned, because on a thematic level, Kirk has to live up to the man Nero knows, and so the universe has bent itself around this arc and this character. Yet, he’s flanked by a delightful cast, one that marries characters with decades of history to fan favorite actors like Karl Urban, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, and Simon Pegg.
The visuals are cliché by this point, the Abrams lens flare no doubt set to pollute Return of the Jedi 2, but they work so well, and create a shiny Apple Store utopia that’s such a breath of fresh air amidst our current fixation on the gritty and grimy in zombocs and crap.
Actors, visuals, script — this is not how I like to talk about movies but honestly, I’m not sure why this movie tickled me as it did. The effectively tragic opening? The romance of space? The pure adventure, so uncommon in modern action movies?
I think it’s something more elusive. It’s a very well-directed movie, and that means details. This trailer captures it very well. That moment when John Cho shakes the hood off and is about to duel — things of that nature, things that just look cool. Kirk and Bones have a really good chemistry, and overall, it might be an emotional ride, but it’s never dark and ultimately victorious.
Pulp for the ages, now back in style.