When you hear Hollywood is “re-imagining” a classic television or movie franchise AGAIN expectations are usually low but J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” truly reaches a new frontier.
You don’t have to wait long for warp speed with an impressive opening sequence with James T. Kirk’s father commanding a federation starship under attack by the revenge-seeking Romulans led by an unrecognizable Eric Bana as Nero. After the intergalactic battle, the story flashes forward and we meet Spock and James T. Kirk as troubled youngsters and later as young adults embarking on their careers with Star Fleet.
Once in Star Fleet, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) clash over protocols and chain of command. Their relationship comes to blows when Spock is put in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise after Captain Pike is taken hostage by the Romulans. Now in charge, Spock ejects Kirk from the U.S.S. Enterprise and strands him on a remote planet. Not such a nice Spock, right? But don’t worry, they work in the Spock (Leonard Nimoy) we know and love to balance out. Can’t tell you how without spoiling it.
The riff between Kirk and Spock is what made the movie work. The tension between the two leads is the center of the film which is further complicated by the Romulan threat to the galaxy. You wonder whether these two stubborn-headed characters will get over themselves to save the world. Genius! Kudos to writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for bringing originality to a story in that respects instead of centering the conflict on alien evil-doers.
The movie is an origins story so fan or not, everyone will be on the same page. Of course there are elements fans will recognize but not so obvious that it will make the non-fan feel left out. The film’s tone is a balance of cheesy humor classic to the tv shows and character driven style of “The Next Generation” series.
As far as the casting, there was not one disappointment. Zachary Quinto’s Spock exceeded all expectations and gave the role such depth that you foresee this young character evolving into the older Spock we are so familiar with. Chris Pine as James T. Kirk did it his own way and never played up to the William Shatner head bobbing, but he did sneak one in at the end. While Chris Pine avoided any physical similarities to William Shatner’s Kirk, the supporting cast (Karl Urban ‘Bones,’ Simon Pegg ‘Scotty,’ John Cho ‘Sulu,’ Anton Yelchin ‘Chekov’) played up the crew’s character traits and accents giving this new version some of the original flavor.
While Abrams and the writers went where no man has gone before, there apparently was no space for strong kick-butt action from the women. It seems the ladies have regressed in this future. Sure, they got rid of Uhura’s long tacky fingernails but Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in this ‘reimagining’ is in the middle of a love triangle between Spock and Kirk. Winona Ryder’s role as Spock’s mother was a waste and could’ve gone to an unknown actress as her screen time was limited to ten minutes and her character was much older than Ryder. The Star Trek women served as Kirk’s sexual conquest or a love interest which male audiences won’t find anything wrong with but us chicks need a little more love in the tough department. Note to writers and Abrams, before writing the sequel watch Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” for pointers on out of this world ladies.
Apart from the weak women roles, Star Trek is nearly perfect. The special effects and CGI work are first class and flawless especially on the IMAX screen. There is no video game feel to any of the action scenes and the film’s score by Michael Giacchino added to this awesome galaxy trek.
4 and a half Radars.