Star Trek (2009)

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Star Trek

J.J. Abrams


J.J. Abrams


Paramount Pictures

Release Date:

May 8, 2009



Star Trek is a chronicle of the early days of James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the movie creates a clean break from TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY continuity -- nothing in this movie or any of its sequels needs to be consistent with events from those series or related movies. Whether the rebooted franchise will attempt to be consistent with ENT continuity remains to be seen, though Jonathan Archer is mentioned as an admiral, along with a humorous demise of his beagle.

Although the movie had its faults, it's still considered a major improvement over most of the later Star Trek spin offs and movies. Some parallels can be drawn between it and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan- both movies were made by directors new to the Star Trek franchise, and both were considered high quality, steering the franchise away from death.

Synopsis (obviously full of spoilers)

Act One

A strange starship emerges from a black hole and attacks the Federation starship USS Kelvin. The commander of the strange ship contacts the Kelvin, demanding that the captain fly over in a shuttle to discuss surrender terms. The Kelvin's captain agrees, leaving Lieutenant George Kirk in command.

On the alien ship, its Romulan captain -- Nero -- first asks the Federation captain where he can find Spock, and when the commander doesn't know, he asks to know the stardate. Upon learning that, he kills the Kelvin's captain. Lt. Kirk orders the evacuation of the Kelvin and pilots it into the Romulan ship, buying time for the ship's crew -- including his wife and newborn son -- to escape.

Act Two

George Kirk's son, James T. Kirk, grows up without his father. While brilliant, he is a rebellious underachiever. A chance encounter with Captain Christopher Pike convinces him to join Starfleet.

Meanwhile, on Vulcan, Spock -- born of a Vulcan father and a human mother -- has difficulty deciding how he wants to lead his life. Feeling that the Vulcan Science Academy has insulted him by accepting his application "in spite of" his human ancestry, he chooses to join Starfleet.

Kirk completes the four-year Starfleet Academy training program in three years, but is accused of cheating on the "Kobayshi Maru" test. His accuser is Spock, who designed the test. Before the matter is decided, however, Starfleet scrambles all of the cadets to respond to a planetary emergency on Vulcan. Although suspended from duty until the cheating question is resolved, Kirk manages to get on board the Enterprise with the help of Leonard McCoy.

Act Three

En route to Vulcan, Kirk hears a description of events occurring near the Klingon neutral zone and then at Vulcan, compares them to reports of the battle that resulted in his father's death, and concludes that the fleet heading toward Vulcan is falling into a trap. He manages to convince Captain Pike, who prepares the ship for battle before emerging from warp speed.

Due to a delay leaving Earth, the Enterprise is the last ship in the fleet to arrive at Vulcan. They emerge from warp to find the rest of the fleet destroyed. The Romulan ship is in low orbit over Vulcan with a drilling device suspended into the atmosphere, blasting a path to the planet's core; the beam also interferes with transporter function in the system. Captain Nero recognizes the Enterprise and hails the ship. He asks Captain Pike to fly over to his ship in a shuttle to negotiate. Pike recognizes a trap, but agrees. He puts Spock in command and appoints Kirk as his first officer, then takes Kirk, Sulu, and an additional Red Shirt to his shuttle.

As the shuttle flies to Nero's ship, Kirk, Sulu, and the Red Shirt jump out, HALO jumping down the mining rig. The Red Shirt misses the landing and falls to his death, but Kirk and Sulu manage to land on the end of the rig and -- after a fight with some Romulan guards -- disable it. With the beam disabled, the Enterprise is able to beam them back up.

Meanwhile, Nero realizes that his mining rig has been disabled, but it had already succeeded in drilling a deep enough shaft into Vulcan. He launches a charge of red matter down the shaft, causing a black hole to form that begins to consume the planet. The Enterprise crew realize what's happening, and Spock beams down to rescue his parents and the Vulcan high council. The Enterprise attempts to beam them back just as the area collapses, and Spock's mother falls to her death before the Enterprise can transport her away.

Act Four

With Vulcan destroyed, Nero's ship leaves the system for Earth. Nero proceeds to torture Captain Pike for information about Earth's defenses.

As acting Captain, Spock decides to rendezvous with the rest of the Federation fleet in the Laurentian system, based on the logic that the Enterprise alone is no match for Nero's ship. Kirk argues that Earth will be destroyed by the time the Enterprise can gather the rest of the fleet, so they need to pursue Nero themselves, regardless of the risk. As Kirk is insubordinate, Spock has him ejected from the ship in an escape pod, which lands on Delta Vega.

On the icy surface of Delta Vega, Kirk is saved from local predators by an elderly Vulcan, who introduces himself as Spock. Using a mind meld, Spock explains that in the future, a supernova threatened to destroy Romulus and many other planets in the galaxy. Spock promised to save Romulus using red matter to create a black hole that would consume the exploding star. Unfortunately, Spock was not able to reach the supernova in time, and Romulus was destroyed before he could launch the red matter. Captain Nero blamed Spock for the destruction of his home world and attacked Spock's ship. During the battle, both Spock and Nero's ships were drawn into the newly created black hole. Nero's ship fell in first, thereby emerging first. Spock's ship was sucked in a few seconds later, but emerged twenty-five years after Nero's. Obsessed with vengeance, Nero waited for Spock's ship to emerge from the black hole and captured it, obtaining the supply of red matter. Nero explained his intent to destroy everything Spock valued, starting with Vulcan. Nero then marooned Spock on Delta Vega, from which he would be able to observe the destruction of Vulcan.

Spock agrees with Kirk that Nero must be stopped before he can reach Earth and deploy the red matter. To do that, Kirk will have to assume command of the Enterprise. Kirk doesn't see how that will be possible, but Spock explains that his younger self will have to relinquish command if it can be shown that he is emotionally compromised. All they need to do is get Kirk onto the Enterprise. To do that, they head toward a Federation outpost on Delta Vega.

The outpost turns out to be manned only by Montgomery Scott and an alien assistant. The outpost doesn't have a ship that could catch up with the Enterprise, but it does have a transporter. Scotty explains that he was working on a way to transport objects over interplanetary distances and onto ships travelling at warp, but he hadn't figured it out yet. Spock tells him that one day he will, and then enters that very formula into the transporter system, which he then uses to transport Kirk and Scotty to the Enterprise.

Kirk and Scott arrive in engineering, where they are picked up by a security team. Spock has them brought to the bridge for questioning, but Kirk refuses to cooperate, taunting Spock about his lack of feelings for the loss of his planet, people, and mother, instead. Spock loses his temper and attacks Kirk, nearly killing him before relenting and declaring himself unfit for command. As acting first officer, Kirk assumes command of the Enterprise.

Act Five

The Enterprise arrives to blow some shit up.

With the help of Pavel Chekov, Kirk devises a plan to get aboard Nero's ship. The Enterprise drops out of warp inside the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan to hide its arrival, then uses Scotty's long-range transport formula to beam Kirk and Spock onto Nero's ship shortly before Nero activates his drill. A gun-fight ensues when they materialize in a crowded hold, but Kirk and Spock manage to defeat the Romulans there, and Spock uses a mind-meld to learn the locations of Captain Pike and the red matter from a stunned Romulan.

Kirk and Spock find their way to future-Spock's ship, which immediately recognizes Spock by his voice. Spock flies the ship out of the hold of Nero's ship while Kirk goes to rescue Captain Pike. Nero himself intercepts Kirk, beating him soundly before he is distracted by Spock using the future ship's weapons to destroy the drilling rig. Nero leaves Kirk to his lieutenant as he goes to manage the pursuit of Spock's ship, and Kirk get's hold of the lieutenant's weapon and kills him. As Spock warps away from Earth with Nero's ship in pursuit, Kirk finds and releases Captain Pike.

Spock emerges from warp, followed by Nero. Spock turns his ship onto a collision course with Nero's, and Nero responds by launching a spread of torpedos into his path. Before they hit, the Enterprise catches up and destroys the torpedos with phaser fire, allowing Spock's ship to ram Nero's. Scotty manages to transport Kirk, Spock, and Pike back to the Enterprise before the red matter activates, creating a black hole that begins to consume Nero's ship. Kirk offers to rescue Nero and his crew, but Nero refuses, so Kirk orders Sulu to open fire on Nero's ship, instead. Nero's ship is consumed by the black hole, and the Enterprise barely escapes.

Back on Earth, Kirk is commended for his actions, promoted to the full rank of Captain, and given command of the Enterprise. Spock volunteers to be his first officer.



  • It goes without saying that, as far as we know, black holes are not time-travel portals.
    • It's not clear why drilling a shaft to a planet's core is necessary to use red matter as a planet-destroying weapon. If what it's creating is really a black hole, then a reaction started on the planet's surface should be just as capable of consuming the planet.
    • The Narada used its drill to make a shaft to the "core" of planets for the deployment of the red matter. While we can't speak with certainty about Vulcan, the mantle and core of Earth are liquid, so it would be impossible to drill a persistent hole down to the planet's core.
  • A supernova would not be an immediate threat to planets in other star systems, light-years away from it.
    • The shockwave from a supernova would certainly not blow apart a planet like Romulus unless it were in a very close orbit around the star in the first place. The high energy gamma radiation from a supernova would potentially cause signficant enviromental damage, such as total destruction of the atmosphere's ozone layer, but it would be years before this radiation could affect other star systems.
      • Star Trek Online reports that outside interference by some powerful race took place.
  • The Enterprise shouldn't have needed to dump its antimatter to create an explosion to blow it clear of the black hole: a ship capable of travelling faster-than-light should have more than enough speed to escape the gravity of a black hole from outside the event horizon.
    • Certain Star Trek episodes, like Relics, established the negative effect of strong gravity fields on the warp drive.
  • Spock being able to observe the destruction of Vulcan from Delta Vega is absurd -- Delta Vega would have to be a moon of Vulcan for that to be remotely feasible, and there's no indication that's the case. Perhaps Spock's version of the event is metaphorical?
    • The writers indicated in interviews that Spock would have actually observed the destruction through scientific instruments provided to him by Nero for that purpose, and that the reconstruction from Spock's mind was indeed metaphorical.


  • Everyone seems to know that the Kobayashi Maru test is a "no win scenario", which seems to defeat the purpose of it. Spock also says that the objective is to determine how test subjects handle overwhelming fear, but how much fear can they really be feeling in what they know is a simulation? Indeed, we see the simulation in progress, and it's clear that no one involved is experiencing any fear.
  • While Kirk's insistence that taking action to save Earth despite the risk is commendable, his plan -- consisting of little more than "Get onto Nero's ship and improvise" -- relied on getting extraordinarily lucky. As such, his subsequent promotion to captain of Starfleet's newest and best ship is not really warranted.
  • Captain Pike describes Starfleet as a "humanitarian and peace-keeping armada". Defining peace-keeping as one of Starfleet's primary roles helps explain the heavy armament of Starfleet vessels in this continuity.

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