I didn’t think I would ever say it this is my lifetime, but it looks like the science fiction obsessed, dressing up and convention going social outcasts known as Trekkies are now getting their due. J.J. Abrams has finally dropped Star Trek into the theaters, a movie which may be the most highly anticipated reboot in years (James Bond and Batman had restarts that were salivated over by their fan bases too).
It was no small task either. Abrams and the writing duo of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (responsible for Transformers) deserve the utmost credit for what was, no doubt, an incredibly tedious developmental process. They needed to create a movie that kept true to the source so as to not alienate the existing rabid fans, while at the same time reinvigorating it to draw in new movie-goers. A lot can go wrong with this scenario and, increduously, they’ve walked the tightrope without falling.
It all starts with an intense, 15-minute space battle between the U.S.S. Kelvin, commanded by George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), and the Narada, a Romulan warship helmed by the Khan-like Nero (Eric Bana). It ends poorly for the good guys, but is surely puts a taste for more in our mouths, especially when Nero scampers off in wait of his real target . . .
At the same moment, a skirt chasing James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is contemplating his next move and ultimately decides, at the behest of Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Starfleet Academy. He eventually finds himself on the majestic and technically awe inspiring U.S.S. Enterprise with fellow cadets: Spock (Zachary Quinto), Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). It’s all fun — Kirk wants to get friendly with Uhura (who wouldn’t) — and “friendly” competition — Kirk and Spock each look to one up each other — until Pike goes down and they’re forced into action.
There is no shortage of action or adventure in Star Trek but what was a most unexpected treat was at how well the two main roles were defined and acted out. Kirk, played extremely well by relative unknown Pine, gets to show off multiple facets of his character as he matures — cocky, uncaring playboy to daring, resolved leader. Spock, played just as well by Quinto, is especially complex as he deals with internal anger stemming from his half-blood roots. The two believably portray contempt and ultimately admiration for each other, as if this is the fourth installment they’ve starred in together and they’ve been through it a thousand times. The rest of the crew do a good job (some more so than others), albeit, mostly for well placed tension breakers with humor or sexual innuendos. I suspect, and hope, they’ll play a larger part in upcoming sequels. Adding Leonard Nimoy in as future Spock was a great touch too.
But how dare I simply gloss over the effects and action. The ships are modeled with great precision and it was good to see the U.S.S. Enterprise looking better than ever. Future San Francisco with its towering towers is a civil engineers wet dream. The fight and chase sequences are jam-packed and well choreographed. The explosions are big and many. The film starts off with a bang and rarely slows down enough for you to catch your breath; J.J. Abrams knew what this franchise needed and delivered it.
Although I tend to cringe into the fetal position when I see or hear the words “reboot”, “remake” or “retelling” attached to a movie (they usually signify the lack of creative juices in Hollywood), even I felt the Star Trek franchise needed a new beginning. Star Trek is a great start over. So much so that I even look forward to the sequel due in 2011.