Reboots run dangerously close to falling in the same category as prequels with me. The only difference is instead of the creators trying to make a sequel without calling it a sequel, they are doing a re-imagining of an already existing franchise. That usually means they are tampering with a story and characters that are established and often times, already lexicons of our pop culture. It would take a brave director to take on that task. One who would boldly go where no man has gone before.
The legendary "Star Trek" franchise gets a fresh look in this modernized installment. It takes us into the origins of the young crew's maiden voyage onboard the most advanced and renown starship ever created: the U.S.S. Enterprise. The fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of a crew consisting mainly of cadets fresh out of Starfleet Academy as they must find a way to stop the evil Romulan, Nero, (Eric Bana) whose evil mission of vengeance threatens all of mankind.
One of the huge successes this flick has is it doesn't bog us down with detailed back-stories of the characters that are unnecessary. There is more detail that go into both the origin of Spock (Zachary Quinto) and James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). It clearly works to the benefit of the story though. Their intentions and actions are better understood having known what it took to make them who they are. That is particularly helpful for those who may go in not being familiar with the Trek characters. For us that are a little more initiated, it helped to grow a better attachment to the new faces playing familiar roles.
An entire new cast is something that could be a sticking point with die-hard fans. How would they handle seeing actors who didn't have striking physical similarities to their favorite Trek characters? Abrams did an excellent job of having each character stay true to the spirit of the original without having to worry about how much they resembled their icons. He even managed to squeeze in their individual idiosyncrasies that we have come to know and love without making them seem corny or forced.
It was just those little nuances that really made "Star Trek" pop. The little things that Trekkie fans alike will pick up on which Abrams clearly did to reel us in. Favorite quirks such as the following were greatly appreciated and enhanced the experience even more:
- Comedians have long joked about how Kirk would often make out with every type of alien woman known, even the green ones. They have the green one here
- The ongoing track record of the crewman in red who goes with the away team continues. Although Scotty and Uhura wore red in the original series and they always managed to make it back
- Bones (Karl Urban) reminds us that he's a doctor and not a (insert whatever profession is appropriate given whatever current crisis they may be facing)
- Scotty (Simon Pegg) gets a chance to scream that he's "giving her all she's got"
I particularly liked seeing how each of the main characters get to gain their respective position on the Enterprise thru some crises of some sort. Most of them are called onboard in the first place to respond to an enemy threat. Once on the ship, many of them obtain their roles that they are commonly associated with after overcoming some sort of adversity. Going thru that trial by fire provides the perfect explanation of why the crew of the Enterprise is one of the most revered in the history of sci-fi movies.
The visuals are without question some of the most outstanding assets of "Star Trek". Abrams squandered no special effect at all while at the same time not going overboard so as not to inundate us. Particularly amazing was the Enterprise itself. Even the view we see of the ship in its infant stages while it's still being constructed (in Iowa, no less) was incredible. However, the shot they show of Bones and Kirk getting their first glimpse of the finished product was simply awesome. I'm sure this was just the Trekkie in me, but I actually had chills go up my spine watching that scene.
There was only one real flaw I could find with the movie and it really was a bit of nitpicking on my part. There were too many scenes where the lighting was purposely creating glares which was a bit distracting. It created a bit of an angelic light in some instances. I don't know enough about Abrams' director style to know if that was supposed to be a trademark of his a la John Woo and the white doves; therefore, I didn't put much stock into it. Besides, with that being the only thing I could find wrong, that still speaks volumes for this movie.
Also, there were a couple of storylines that I'm still up in the air about. One involved Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the relationship they had her in. It did seem a little odd. However, put in context, it actually made sense. The other involved the theory of time travel/alternate universe. It can sometimes be a tricky subject in sci-fi movies because some writers use it as a lazy effort to avoid valid explanations of their story. That doesn't seem to be the case here though as it is woven well into the script without coming across as trite.
I never have considered myself to be a true Trekkie. Although I haven't even seen every episode of the original series, I probably know a little more about the Star Trek universe than the average joe. Still, I more or less grew up on "Star Trek" with both parents that were fans so I went in ready to scrutinize the tampering of a national treasure. Abrams successfully won me over. Not only that, I'm confident that this product may even convert regular moviegoers that are looking forward to being entertained without having any Trek background. This summer could not have asked for a better start than a film like "Star Trek" setting a bar so high that other blockbusters truly have their work cut out for them.
My rating: A+