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DVD Review

DVD cover

Star Trek XI (2-Disc Special Edition)


Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña and Simon Pegg
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 16 November 2009

Seeking his revenge for the death of his planet, Nero travels back in time to destroy the very Federation whom he blames. Entering back into normal space his powerful mining ship is encountered by the USS Kelvin, which is destroyed in the ensuing battle, killing James Kirk's father, an act which changes history forever...

Star Trek (2009 - 2 hrs, 01 min, 43 sec) is the reimaging of an old franchise created from the imaginative mind of director J.J. Abrams. Although the film won a single award it was woefully underrepresented in most awards ceremonies, but that’s the way things go with most science fiction films.

If anyone was to take an old franchise and reinvent it, I’m not sure that I would have chosen Star Trek and I’m a lifelong fan of the show. The problem was there had been so much written and shown that the show was a slave to its past. Try and do anything different and you were likely to find your name plastered across numerous fan boy sites all demanding your death. Also, because of the mass of internal history, it became increasingly obvious that writers were having a hard time coming up with plots which hadn’t already been seen. J.J. Abrams had a problem.

The film was either going to be a golden opportunity to inject some much needed life into the old girl or a poisoned chalice for the director. The trick, which Abrams pulls off, is not to dismiss all that had come before, but to introduce a new character Nero (Eric Bana) whose incursion into the past completely changes both the histories and character traits of the protagonists.

Kirk (Chris Pine) remains brash and more than a little horny - let’s face it, Shatner's Kirk spent most of the time trying to bed the alien women he met, - but the difference is that this Kirk never knew his father, who dies the day he was born. Consequently, he grows up with more of a leaning to rashness, traits which also existed in the original, although the original Kirk had to be forced to kiss Uhura, this one positively tries to bed her.

The character which undergoes the greatest transformation is Spock (Zachary Quinto), though the rational for this is never explained as his immediate future was unaffected by Nero’s incursion into the past. Here is a younger Spock, full of raw emotion and desire, whose experience of growing up as a half breed on Vulcan has done little to temper his internal anger. It is the changes in these two characters which drives much of the film.

That is not to say that there isn’t much in the film which your average Trekker won’t find familiar. Karl Urban’s portrayal of Bones is irascible and technophobic; Scotty (Simon Pegg) is exuberant and not adverse to a drop of the hard stuff; Sulu (John Cho) has a sword; and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) has an accent. For diehard fans the film also throws in Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Sarek (Ben Cross), Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder) and for good measure they even throw in Leonard Nimoy reprising his portrayal of the original Spock.

The film's story is almost incidental to the pace and excitement that has been reinserted into Trek, something which has been missing for far too many years. It’s a workable story, but its real reason for existence is to allow the franchise to move in a completely different direction. Given the success, both critical and financial, which the film garnered, you can look forward to another series of films. So it is best to think of this movie as covering how Kirk gets the Enterprise and how much has been changed. With the introductions now out of the way further films will be judged on their plot.

The two DVD set has the film on the first disc, presented with an anamorphic, aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The transfer is breathtaking even on the DVD format. There is only single audio option for Dolby Digital 5.1, plus a small number of subtitles.

Disc one, kicks off its extras with a full length commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci. Although light in tone it is also heavy with useful information and insight. A New Vision (18 min, 51 sec) takes a look at the technical side of making the movie. Like the commentary, this is both informative and fun. It has a lot of behind the scenes shots as well as an explanation of why the movie used so much lens flare. The last extra is a gag reel (6 min, 14 sec) which for once is genuinely funny, you get the feeling that the film was made with good humour and heart.

So on to disc two where the rest of the extras hide. First up there are nine deleted scenes (13 min, 05 sec) with optional commentary. The most interesting part of this is seeing Nero’s crew being captured by the Klingons following the crippling of their ship. It also explains what they were doing for the twenty-five years before the story starts properly. To Boldly Go (16 min, 06 sec) with the creative team discussing what possessed them to take on such a sacred cow and what they wanted to bring to the new project.

Casting (27 min, 49 sec) is a lengthy piece about choosing the cast with contributions from the director and all the cast as well as Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig. Aliens (15 min, 56 sec) which covers the magic of prosthetics and CGI. The last feature Score (6 min, 19 sec) and even the composer gets a look in.

So even an old Trekker like me was delighted how the film turned out, not only because it didn’t step too much on our treasured memories, but also because the broader based appeal of the film is likely to create a whole new generation of Trek fans with their own stories and their own universe to play in.


Charles Packer

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