When director J.J. Abrams was selected to restart the Star Trek series with a new Kirk and crew, this fan wasn’t cheering. I might not be a full-on acolyte who knows the name of every Romulan character in each of the five TV series, but over the years I’ve enjoyed watching the trials and tribulations of the Federation and its flagship, the Enterprise. But the show I liked the least—even loathed—was the original. I’m not sure whether it was my older siblings and their friends mocking the series or the blatant misogyny, crappy special effects and arrogance of Capt. James T. Kirk that turned me off.
So the thought of another Kirk film held no appeal. And while Abrams is a small-screen genius (Lost, Felicity, Alias), his feature film track record (the dreadful, at least in this writer’s opinion, Mission: Impossible III) didn’t inspire confidence. But he redeemed himself with Star Trek, which is sure to be this summer’s must-watch.
Star Trek is just plain fun. The dialogue is fast and sharp. There’s a sci-fi plot that even neophytes can follow. There’s enough action to thrill the guys. And, while not giving away any plot secrets, there is one spectacularly satisfying “expendable crew man” death (a plot devise heavily used in the original series). Devotees will be happy that “canon law” has not been violated. Fans like me will be thrilled that the same-old same-old of Star Trek—the Federation is one big happy family and everything is neatly wrapped up at the end—has been turned on its ear. And newcomers will enjoy it for what it is: a perfect escapist film.
Most importantly, it’s packed with young, hot actors who present new facets to characters familiar to anyone who’s paid the slightest bit of attention to popular culture in the last 40 years, especially Chris Pine who takes the edge off Capt. Kirk’s arrogance. But the real standout is Zachary Quinto’s (and Leonard Nimoy’s) portrayal of Spock. Kirk might be the “face” but Spock is the heart and soul of the Star Trek universe.
I don’t usually see movies twice, but this will be an exception. Among a few other things, that flashed by during the first screening, I’ll want to see if that “expendable crew man” is wearing the correct “red shirt” of death. Something tells me Abrams didn’t tweak that tradition.