I loved watching the original series from the 1960s. They repeated them very late at night when I was a teenager and I lapped those three seasons up. They were astronomically ahead of their time, and the characterisation and themes were grand. Gene Roddenberry created something very special with Star Trek and it continues to resonate with all generations. I also loved the films with the original cast made primarily in the 1980s and I’m not ashamed to say I cried when Spock died in the second film.
The franchise was due for an update. It deserves to loom large in pop culture once more and unfortunately the series that followed Kirk, et al, didn’t justify another big screen outing. J.J Abrams was the perfect choice. He helped create Alias and Lost and knows how to do conduct grand action, as seen in Mission Impossible 3. The only other logical choice would’ve been Joss Whedon.
Written by Transformers writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and directed by Abrams, Star Trek goes back to its fun roots, but misses the deeper meanings and social commentary the TV series was known for. However, that’s not a bad thing. With its pretty young cast and sense of fun, it’s a joy to witness. It looks great, with its clean, sleek interiors and lens flares and doesn’t suffer too badly from the handheld fight scene direction that’s all the rage these days.
I hope this film introduces Star Trek to new fans. It has enough nods to the classic show to be appreciated by fans, but isn’t hindered by it. With it’s time travelling Romulan villain Nero (Eric Bana), emotional Spock (Zachary Quinto from Heroes) and initially purposeless Kirk (Chris Pine) it touches on themes of destiny and courage with restraint. The simple costumes and gadgets such as phasers remain almost identical, while the beaming has been slightly modified. Captain Pine’s (Bruce Greenwood) ultimate fate and Karl Urban’s portryal of Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy were also nice nods to the past. Simon Pegg is great as Scotty though Anton Yelchin’s Chekov accent is perhaps too much.
The beauty of this film is that it’s an acknowledgment of all that’s gone before it, and really, it had to be. The original Spock, Leonard Nimoy’s screen presence is more than the cameo I expected and his inclusion means this film is essentially not canon, but rather an alternate timeline. It works well. The sequel is due in 2011 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Shatner shows up too. It makes me want to watch all those older films again.