Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content, 126 minutes
The new “Star Trek” an exciting ride, for both Trekkies and Non-Trekkies
The new “Star Trek” lands in theatres this weekend and there’s just one word: WOW. Both Trekkies and Non-Trekkies (I include myself in that category) will get a treat out of this exciting, robust and colorful new reboot of a seemingly tired pop icon from “Lost” and “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams. Not everything in the story works, but it’s a rollicking roller-coaster ride that could essentially be termed “Star Trek: The Early Years” as it details the early life of Captain Kirk, Spock and the gang before their adventures on the U.S.S. Enterprise.
James Kirk (Chris Pine) is born to a Starfleet captain who is killed just moments before James is born. He grows up to a brash, rebellious but highly intelligent Iowa boy who thinks he can do anything. Meanwhile, Spock (“Heroes” Zachary Quinto) is born a Vulcan father and human mother and grows up to be a nerdy kid picked on by the cool Vulcan kids for his mixed heritage but is ultimately superior in just about every facet. Kirk and Spock meet at the Starfleet training academy, where Spock has advanced himself but Kirk, unsurprisingly, finds himself in trouble at every turn. He becomes quick pals with an older, sarcastic doctor Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) and becomes attracted to fellow academy officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), though her attractions clearly lie elsewhere.
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, along with Scotty (British comedian Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and some old and new friends, must battle the evil Nero (Eric Bana), who has a beef with Spock over some past mistakes, and whose desire is to destroy the heart and soul of the Federation and everyone on the Enterprise. But if you know anything about Star Trek, Kirk and company won’t go down without a colorful, interesting fight across many galaxies.
Abrams' “Star Trek” is a robust, thrill-a-minute roller -coaster ride that throws its audience into the mix from the first scene, and his style is more Indiana Jones, throwing out some colorful, whirlwind special effects and pacing that will keep the audience engaged, even when its story falters ever so slightly. But Trekkies and non-Trekkies should leave pleased with the new results, even if there are some unique changes and twists and turns along the way that haven’t been seen before.
The most inspiring thing about the new “Star Trek” has to be the casting. Handsome newcomer Pine is a solid but slightly blandish Kirk, and as usual on the smart-aleck side, but then so was Shatner, who usually played this thing with more tongue-in-cheek fervor. But Pine grows on you, and he’s well teamed with “Heroes” Quinto, perfectly cast as the younger Spock, who infuses and shades him with more human touches (not to mention a fun fight scene with Kirk). On top of that, Quinto and Pine share a palpable chemistry that’ll grow in future outings.
The rest of the new “Star Trek” cast also performs ably. Bana, under heavy makeup and tattoos, is a brooding, evil villain; Saldana is a smart but ravishing beauty, but the biggest twist that Trekkies must get used to in this version is her romance with…Spock. It’s highly unusual to see it and will take some getting used to. Urban makes a great impression as Dr. “Bones” McCoy, and he utters “damn it, Jim” with a force that will remind you of the old TV series. Pegg grabs a few laughs as Scotty in a role far smaller than expected, while Cho’s Sulu is tremendously athletic though newcomer Yelchin is a little too bright-eyed as Chekov.
And yes, Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance as the old Spock, in another supposed plot twist that’s essential to the story. The twist seems a little forced, but it’s great seeing Nimoy, he’s terrific as usual, and hard-core Trekkies might even shed a tear when they first see him. Trekkies will also note that Uhura now has a first name, and watch for the well-known actress playing Spock’s mother.
“Star Trek” is full of great action scenes – really too many to mention here – but standouts include Sulu and Kirk’s fight atop a Romulun space ship in mid-air, and Kirk’s intense run-for-his-life from a very nasty wintery creature. As for the predictable climax, if you think that Kirk, Spock and company are down for the count, think again, as it leaves it open for a whole new set of outings for the new generation of young Trekkies.
“Star Trek” is a colorful, robust and action-packed way to spend your weekend. For those non-Trekkies, “Star Trek” knowledge isn’t essential, and for true Trekkies, they’ll probably turn out in droves for repeat viewings. This should be a big early summer hit and rightfully so, I’m surprised that this turned out so well. Live long, prosper and enjoy the fun new “Star Trek.”