Star Trek (2009) Explained

by Ken Eckert

Ken's Guide to Characters and Events in this New Movie in the Classic Series

With millions of fans worldwide, and over dozens of them female, the enduring charm of the fantasy science-fiction world of the Star Trek series has been renewed in the new prequel movie of 2009 with the original and surprising name Star Trek. Here the viewer gets to see Kirk's birth and his growth from a young rebel who only cares about adventure and girls to, uh, a starship captain who only cares about adventure and girls. Devoted internet fans of the new film have already thoroughly debated and discussed important and vital details about the movie (example: "Why the dolly grip in the 1979 film was so much better than the one in this movie"), but for a newcomer or occasional fan the Star Trek universe can be imposing. Here's a brief tutorial on the events of the new installment in the series.

Spoiler alert — You should be aware that if you leave milk out in the sun for several days it will spoil. Don't do it.

The film starts with James T. Kirk, a young punk growing up in Iowa searching for more meaning in his empty, directionless life other than his orphanage charity work and his training as a heart surgeon.

At the same time we see Spock as a boy, an outcast as a part-human part-Vulcan in an advanced but emotionless world. Somehow Vulcan bullies just don't have the pizzazz of human ones.

Kirk finally channels his rebelliousness into an ambition to be a Starfleet captain like his father, Philo Jebediah Farnsworth Kirk, but he clashes with Spock after trying to game the system.

All of this politics is put aside when both Vulcan and Earth are threatened by a disgruntled Romulan whose planet was incinerated due to Spock's error. There's no end of people with petty grudges in life, is there?

Kirk comes to prominence on the ship as he correctly sees that the threat to Vulcan comes from the deranged Romulan, but the ship's crew is skeptical of Kirk's warnings and is still very green.

A romance flowers between the officers of starfleet and the beautiful Uhura, whose father also owns a brewery on the Quasar asteroid, adding to the tension surrounding the Romulan attacks on the planets.

A central theme of the movie is Spock trying to synthesize his human emotions with his steely Vulcan rationality. When faced with the passionate, impulsive Kirk, Spock cooly evicts him from the ship.

Kirk lands on a snowy planet near Vulcan, where the laws of science-fiction movies dictate that he must meet the aged Spock in a cave, who gives him the technology to return to the ship.

Kirk craftily goads Spock into losing his temper so that he can assume the duties of acting captain. Kirk learns that twenty years of emotional repression result in a pretty violent steam.

But as new captain, Kirk quickly assesses the situation and takes action to attack the Romulan. We see the beginnings of a partnership where the rational Spock complements the hunch-playing Kirk.

Unfortunately, the Romulan has superior technology due to his origins from the future, before he is cast into the past into the Enterprise's present time, although Kirk now has help from the future Spock, and... got all that?

In a climactic scene full of drama and action and CGI effects, because George Lucas needed the money, the Romulan is defeated, and he limps back toward his back-up plan of telephone sales.

In an emotional moment, young Spock meets the old Spock, who is in a 23rd century starship base but hasn't changed out of his animal furs. Being a very elderly Vulcan, we'll forgive him for being a little absent minded.

And the epic team of the Enterprise, captained by James Kirk, is ready for more interplanetary adventure, wherever people are menaced by international communism, furballs, or by more busty green babes.

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