2013 FF: By 2009, “Star Trek” had become too familiar and too dated and the random movies lacked that sense of wonder and amazement that science fiction fans were seeking. Enter J.J. Abrams, who decided he was going to do what was starting to become unthinkable — he was going to make “Star Trek” cool again.
Forget everything you thought you knew about “Star Trek” and beam down to your local theater to see the latest take on the adventures of Kirk, Spock and company which is poised to be the movie event of the summer, if not the entire year.
For fans of the TV show “Lost,” the influence of Director J.J. Abrams is apparent right from the start, with an emotional opening scene depicting George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth in a cameo that helped launch his career) fighting to save 800 passengers aboard the U.S.S. Kelvin from a vicious attack by a renegade Romulan Nero (Eric Bana, “Hulk”). Everything from the score, the slow motion effects to Abrams’ ability to instantly draw you into this new universe quickly sets the tone for an engaging two-hour thrill ride.
Abrams proves to be a phenomenal choice to chart the franchise’s new direction as he brings a fresh perspective that strips the series to its essential elements – exploring the final frontier – while still paying homage to what made the original series so special in the first place.
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman strike the perfect balance of action and humor, particularly in this revised take of Kirk (a perfectly cast Chris Pine, “Smokin Aces”) as a hotshot slacker and keep the story moving even with a time-traveling subplot involving an older Spock (Leonard Nimoy in a welcome cameo that is more than just a token gesture for longtime fans).
On a suggestion by Capt. Pike (Bruce Greenwood, “Flight”) he decides to sign up for Starfleet Academy. There he befriends McCoy (Karl Urban, “Dredd”) and instantly clashes with the intense Spock (Zachary Quinto, “Heroes”) before joining the cast of The Enterprise.
The crew encounters Nero who demands they turn over one of their ship mates or face his wrath. Nero’s a bit of a yelling villain and Bana can only do so much to make him interesting and that’s the film’s one weak point.
Abrams made a smart decision in not having an A-list cast. Sure, you’ve seen most of the cast in other films like Zoe Saldana from “Drumline,” but none of them are such household names that they’re bigger than the role like say if Tom Cruise was Spock.
Pine, of course, gets the most screen time, but never at the expense of shortchanging the rest of the cast, who all get a chance to shine and make these beloved characters their own.
The special effects are outstanding and Abrams never lets you forget the cast is in outer space, from simple touches like light reflections seemingly coming out to the viewer or in space battles that far and away eclipse anything done before in the Star Trek films. He really makes the affair seem like a grand space spectacle — something the original TV series just couldn’t do with technology at the time.
The good news is that Paramount is reportedly so happy with this first outing that a sequel’s already in the works and if the next installment is anywhere near as exciting as this one, I’m thinking there’s going to be an entirely new generation of Trekkies to come from these films.
Rating: 9 out of 10