Release Date: May 8
Director: J. J. Abrams
Writer: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, based on the television series created by Gene Roddenberry
Cinematographer: Daniel Mindel
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nemoy, Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg
Studio/Run Time: Paramount Pictures, 126 mins.
While (technically) taking place in the same continuity as all of the old Star Trek shows and movies, J.J. Abrams’ turn at the series is in every other way a reboot that takes what’s most familiar about Star Trek and throws out nearly everything else. As I’m not an old Star Trek fan, I can’t really evaluate how the film holds up to what was important in the previous movies and television shows, or how the new actors and roles stand up to their predecessors, or any of a million other comparisons. But with or without that foreknowledge, the new Star Trek film is everything a summer blockbuster should be: exciting, dramatic and intelligent enough to be more than mere spectacle. So while its qualities as a work within the Star Trek canon are really outside the scope of this review, what’s evident in any case is a movie that any series would be proud to boast of.
Much of the credit for this success goes to screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, whose nimble story of the Enterprise’s maiden voyage manages the impossible by linking the film to its predecessors with a minimum of plot holes. Star Trek’s story works much like a superhero film, where all of the characters’ eventual outcomes are predetermined but the time spent getting through this is enjoyable and minimizes unnecessary exposition. At this point James T. Kirk, Spock and their respective crew are the only ones who can face off against a rogue band of Romulans out destroying planets. In a way this is a cliché, but only because it’s what makes for satisfying science-fiction, and Abrams moves the film so quickly that it always feels fresh.
But unlike films by Michael Bay, an influence that looms large in Star Trek’s background, Abrams’ speed is one of economy and streamlining rather than stereotypes and incoherence. Through scenes that speak loudly with their actions coupled with strong performances, Star Trek casts its net broadly but intelligently—not many action films would let something like the protagonist hanging onto ledges be a motif. Occasionally the seams on Star Trek show, but with its blazing pace and smart dialogue these are glossed over long before they become a real problem. Trek fan or not, only a person who hates action movies entirely could hate Star Trek.