Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Leonard Nimoy
Rating: ****1/2 (out of *****)
When I first heard the news that "Lost" and "Alias" co-creator J.J. Abrams’ would be at the helm of a new "Star Trek" film that followed the exploits of characters from the original series navigating their way through Star Fleet Academy, my first question was "Why?" This was quickly followed by "how?", which in turn lead to other questions like "is this a prequel or a reboot?" and "whatis this, ‘J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Babies?’ "
Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive. And considering I was only a fan of "The Next Generation" and never really took to any of the other series (including the original series on which this film is based), I can only imagine the fear that’s been building in the hearts of Trekkies. Or Trekker, depending on whom you ask. I neither want nor care to get into any discussion regarding the difference. The only thing that matters is that I went into my viewing of this film expecting an action-adventure popcorn muncher that at best would be an entertaining romp resembling "Star Trek" in name only.
As it turns out, all of my concerns were unfounded. However, the quality of the film merits me going a bit further than simply saying that J.J. Abrams was true to the spirit of the franchise and its characters whilst simultaneously giving new life and a new vision for Gene Roddenberry’s creation. "Star Trek" is, in my mind, the perfect summer blockbuster movie.
I’m not saying "Star Trek" is a film that deserves to sweep the Academy Awards, nor am I going to suggest that there are themes addressed in this film that will change your life and shake the foundations of your beliefs to their very core. Rather, it’s a film that succeeds in all those areas where Summer blockbusters tend to fail miserably by being accessible to everyone regardless of their familiarity with the source material and not to the detriment of things like writing, pacing, and character development. Which is more than we can say for other recent debacles (see: "The Wolverine Variety Show Starring Wolverine
The cast of "Star Trek," shown here watching "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" in horrified disgust.
There will invariably be a small handful of geeks on the internet that will rail against minor offenses and take umbrage with the film for deigning to re-imagine a beloved staple, but those folks were going to hate it regardless of how the film came out. On the whole, however, I think Trek fans will appreciate the balance this film accomplishes in referencing the Trek franchise in both comic segments – including a hilarious running gag poking fun at Bones McCoy’s ritual jabbing of metal objects into his patients’ necks – and polite, respectful nods to the series.
But more important than how it treats the fans of the franchise on which it’s based or the franchise itself, it’s a good film on its own merit. It joins "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" in the company of recent films that buck Summer Blockbuster trends by appealing to teenagers while covertly targeting itself at an adult audience. It’s certainly a breath of fresh air, or perhaps a sigh of relief, for those folks that have been suggesting that Hollywood can no longer make a bankable film that isn’t made specifically with a 15-year-old boy in mind.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into any great details about the performances in "Star Trek" or the film’s technical merits, other than to say that the film looks absolutely gorgeous and Karl Urban is nothing short of a revelation as "Bones" McCoy. If there’s any weakness in the film, it comes only after putting thought into what can (and/or will) happen with future installments in the series. As much fun as this movie was, you can only launch a franchise once. In other words, all the cute gags were used up in this film, and now the focus has to be on which directions these characters go in. There’s a real question as to whether this re-imagined "Star Trek" universe has the strength to stand on its own two feet. Thankfully, we can at least say it’s off to a good start.