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J.J. Abrams’ revamped Star Trek takes the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise back to where it all began…well sort of. The movie follows both the young rebellious James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the conflicted Vulcan, Spock (Zachary Quinto), from childhood to their turbulent first meeting at Star Fleet academy. Before the cadets can finish their training they are thrust into action when the Romulan, known as Nero (Eric Bana), shows up and start causing havoc. Nero has travelled back in time to avenge the lost of both his planet and pregnant wife in the future. Confused? Nero claims that the reason his wife will die 25 years in the future is because of Spock; so he intends to give Spock a huge loss of his own. In order to stop Nero, Kirk and Spock must learn to put their differences aside and lead an inexperienced crew into a battle they may not win.
Although I have seen all of the Star Trek movies, and random episodes from each of one of the series, I am rather indifferent when it comes to Star Trek franchise in general. Besides Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and, to a lesser extent, Star Trek: First Contact no other Star Trek film has really entertained me. All this of course has changed after watching this “reboot.” J.J. Abrams movie not only reintroduces the characters in a new way, but actually makes you want to follow their adventures in the futures. While there are bound to be people who had problems with the “alternate universe” plot, I actually found it very liberating. It finally allows the franchise to break away from the mundane “captain, our shield are down to 10 percent” stuff that has been the bane of the series for the last decade or so. Finally, we get tense action sequences that actually excite the audience instead of merely forcing us to watch ships firing lasers back and forth. Kirk no longer wins every hand to hand fight; in fact, he gets roughed up more times than anyone in this film.
I also like that the writers now have more freedom with the characters development. You can have Spock get the girl instead of Kirk and it still makes sense. They can finally elaborate on characters that were once minor (i.e. Sulu, Uhura, etc.) and, more importantly, introduce completely new characters and villains. Sure Abrams and crew go out of there way to ensure that all the catchphrases you love are in the film but it never feels forced. This is a direct result of the great cast that Abrams assembled. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have great chemistry as Kirk and Spock. They truly embody the spirit of Shatner and Nimoy yet still make their own marks on their respective characters. Karl Urban is brilliant as Dr. “Bones” McCoy, he nearly steals the film from both Pine and Quinto on several occasions. John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Zoe Saldana are good as Hikaru Sulu, Pavel Chekov, and Nyota Uhura respectively. Cho and Saldana are giving more to do than expected, although I still would like to see their characters explored a little further. Yelchin provides just the right mix of both inexperience and brains as Chekov. Simon Pegg seemed like an odd choice for Scotty at first, yet he adds a nice level of humour to the film. Come to think of it, humour was one thing that the franchise was once missing and now has in spades. Both Scotty and Chekov can provide laughs without having to resort to over-the-top slapstick, which is a bonus for any science fiction film.
The one major problem I had with the film - besides the annoying Trekkie…or is it Trekker?...that felt the need to clap, pump his fist in the air, and shout out every time there was an action sequence and/or references from the show – was the poor writing for the character of Nero. The problem with Nero is that he is a rather uninteresting villain. When you really get down to it, he is merely a miner who has been grieving for 25 years. While I can understand his motivations, there is nothing about him that displays cunning or flair. He basically has a cool drill to use but I am pretty sure that comes standard on most Romulan mining ships anyways. Also, when you place Nero’s rage squarely on the shoulders of the second in command, Spock, you eliminate all tension between Nero and Kirk. I mean, Nero did kill Kirks father for crying out loud. Fortunately, I was able to let most the Nero stuff slide as the rest of the film surpassed my expectations. The movie may not be a masterpiece, nor should hardcore Trek fans expect it to be, but Star Trek does have a high re-watch value. In short, Star Trek is exactly what it sets out to be, an immensely enjoyable summer popcorn movie.
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