Review: Rejuvenated ‘Star Trek’ is worthy of the legend

Movies

STAR TREK

ZACHARY QUINTO AS SPOCK AND CHRIS PINE AS JAMES T. KIRK

Star Trek lives.

It took 11 tries, but someone finally managed to make a movie that completely captures the spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s classic “Wagon Train to the stars.”

And it’s even one of the odd-numbered ones!

J.J. Abrams has not only reinvented the original crew of the Starship Enterprise with fresh faces like Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine, he’s also managed to stay true to four decades of accumulated lore.

It’s an amazing feat that Abrams and Damon Lindelof, the scribes who teased viewers of ABC’s Lost for five years before admitting it’s a time-travel tale, could produce a taut sci-fi thriller with a temporal twist and have it make sense within two hours.

STAR TREK

THE USS ENTERPRISE — LIKE A ROCK

The new Enterprise is a beautiful creation, and our first glimpse of her in space is a breathtaking experience that mirrors the extended tour sequence in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture — only this time, it doesn’t take half an hour. While much whining has been done by Trek purists about the decision to reimagine the ship’s birthplace as an Iowa shipyard rather than the zero-G environment of outer space, it just highlights that she’s a ship with muscle — and she’s a stout American lady!

While the Enterprise bridge is slicker than earlier versions, most of the ship looks and feels like a naval vessel, especially the lower decks where much of the action takes place. And the action never stops, ranging from deep space to hostile planets and back again.

STAR TREK

NERO (ERIC BANA) FIDDLES WHILE VULCAN BURNS

Before you think this is just a longtime Trek fan geek-gushing over a sneak preview, let me say the movie has its faults. From the outset, the audience is hit over the head with the weight of destiny upon young Kirk and Spock. Also, a strange obsession with lens flare makes you wonder just how strong the prescription is for Abrams’ signature specs.

The villains, while entertaining and threatening, lack depth — in fact, they seem to be lifted right out of the last Star Trek film, 2002’s poorly received Nemesis. It’s hard to identify with a one-dimensional character like Nero (Eric Bana) when all he does is rage and brood and all his underlings look just like him. The whole bunch seems lost, and when their complex scheme is foiled (Curses!) they don’t even have a Plan B beyond shooting at things.

There is a greater emphasis placed on harsh environments and gruesome creatures in Abrams’ film than in earlier versions, including a huge monstrosity that would be right at home in a Star Wars film — but that can be forgiven under the Starfleet mission “to seek out new life.” As can, perhaps, the ramped up sex drive of Starfleet officers. Look for at least one unexpected romance that is sure to shake up fan fiction forever.

Whether you’re a fan or a newcomer, you won’t be disappointed with this update. Star Trek is once again for everyone.

See also:

Star Trek

Opens: Friday, May 8

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho

Producers: J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof

Director: J.J. Abrams

Writers: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content

Running time: 126 minutes

Grade: A

Trek timeline and report card

Star Trek (TV, 1966-69) — The Original Series, Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the stars.” A

Star Trek: The Animated Series (TV, 1973-74) — More of the same, but with better special effects. C

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Film, 1979) — A special effects masterpiece that recycled an Original Series script. C

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Film, 1982) — An effective epic that recycled an Original Series villain and boldly terminated an Original Series hero. A

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Film, 1983) — Continuing the storylines of the previous film. B+

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Film, 1986) –– Star Trek saves the whales! This humorous outing concludes the many storylines begun in The Wrath of Khan. A

Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV, 1987-94) — An all-new cast and all-new Enterprise take flight. A

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Film, 1989) — The original cast returns — and they’re getting too old for this sort of thing … F

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Film, 1991) — They’re even older, but they finally go out in style. B-

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (TV, 1993-99) — If The Original Series is Wagon Train, this is Gunsmoke — the action comes to the crew of a distant outpost. A-

Star Trek: Generations (Film, 1994) — The Original Series and Next Generation casts finally meet. B-

Star Trek: First Contact (Film,1996) — The Next Generation meets Terminator, with satisfying results. A

Star Trek: Voyager (TV, 1995-2001) — Lost in Space meets Homer’s Odyssey. B

Star Trek: Insurrection (Film, 1998) — A Next Gen script gets recycled, and not much happens. C-

Star Trek: Enterprise (TV, 2001-05) — The first attempt at a Trek prequel, loosely based on elements of First Contact. C+

Star Trek: Nemesis (Film, 2002) — A Next Gen parting of the ways that was barely noticed. B+

Star Trek: The Original Series — Remastered (TV, 2006-09) — Updated special effects, done right. (Looking at you, Lucas.) A+

Star Trek (Film, 2009) A

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