Directed by J.J. Abrams. Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence and brief sexual content.
In the history of taglines, there has not been a more apt phrase than “This isn’t your father’s Star Trek.” In all its flashy, adrenaline-fueled mayhem, the new Star Trek is in fact not the Star Trek of the ’60s, nor is it the Star Trek of the ’90s — though there are nods to each. Instead, Abrams’ movie is a much-needed reimagining of a once genre-defining science fiction franchise, giving an entirely new generation of fans the ability to rightfully don the “Trekkie” title and come into the sunlight, eyes wide and ears pointy.
In 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise, created as a prequel to the original TV series, was canceled following a dwindling audience and tanking reviews. As a result, there were no new Star Trek episodes in any form airing on television for the first time since 1987. On film, “DOA” could’ve been the title for Nemesis, the 10th Star Trek movie and the least successful, opening behind Maid in Manhattan in a year that produced The Two Towers and the first Harry Potter. For all intents and purposes, Star Trek had failed to “make it so” and instead made it improbable the series could find a new life.
Then came J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost, Fringe and films such as last year’s rampaging-monster action-fest Cloverfield and the forgettable Mission: Impossible III. In 2005, Paramount offered Abrams the daunting task of reviving the series. How does one bring a monstrosity like Star Trek back from the dead (sans witchcraft)? The answer was to cast the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise in a new light: as rebels; as representatives of a new century, as something other than basement-dwelling nerds on a scientific voyage into space. This new Star Trek would boldly go out into the universe, guns blazing, confronting challenges with fists rather than diplomacy. This Star Trek speaks to the energy drink-guzzling, Warcraft-playing geek while tempting the original fans with carrots made of cameos and Klingon references. The good news? It worked, bringing hipsters and nerds together peacefully.
When Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) and James Kirk (Chris Pine) meet on their way to the Starfleet academy, the movie truly begins, and their chemistry is apparent immediately. These two work together as if they were meant to mate in the pon farr ritual (Google it), making their on-screen time some of the most enjoyable moments in the film. Bad Robot, Abrams’ production house, once again provides spectacular visuals of epic proportions. When the enemy vessel piloted by the revenge-crazed pirate Nero (Eric Bana) makes its first appearance, it’s hard to determine where space begins and where the ship ends, as they appear to be one and the same.
As with most things Star Trek, there are flaws — not on the scale of a Space Lincoln, but enough to annoy: Scotty, portrayed by the wonderfully talented Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame, seems to be the administrator of the comic relief, most of which falls flat. (A strange alien following him around is often yelled at for sitting on pipes. This caused an entire theater’s worth of eyebrows to rise simultaneously, making an eerie fleshy noise.) Not to mention the most heinous exclusion: not one light saber was used during the entirety of the film. (Kidding!)
Is Star Trek back? With an opening weekend of $76 million, the highest opening gross of any Star Trek film, the answer is yes. The film truly “engaged” its audience, forcing the franchise into “warp speed” on a collision course with the “final frontier” of . . . Romulan, can I stop now? Please?