For the last seven years fans have been wondering how we’d recover from the disappointment that was Star Trek: Nemesis, the film that broke the even/odd scheme we’d come to rely on. For everything that J.J. Abrams has done right in Hollywood, had he done enough to take over one of the oldest and most beloved franchises in the industry? Could the writers, actors, director, and studio withstand the undying fanatical cries from the devoted fanbase? Could Star Trek actually become relevant again after a prematurely canceled prequel series and two straight disappointing Next Generation-headlining films? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, a resounding “Yes” as the forty-plus year old franchise is reborn and revitalized under the direction of a capable director, excellent casting, and an excellent story.
All the gushing aside, Star Trek isn’t a perfect film, but its many hits almost completely negate its misses. For every gaping plot hole we get a shout out to the original series or a great line of dialog. For every canon-bucking event, we get pitch-perfect casting and an excellent rapport between characters we’ve known and loved.
The most daunting aspect of the new film would be how to fill the shoe’s of some of sci-fi’s most iconic characters including, but not limited to, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc. The entire cast is fleshed out well with even smaller supporting rolls like Chekov (Anton Yelchin) getting enough meat and potatoes for the audience to fully understand the character. Enough can’t be said for Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, he isn’t trying to fully emulate the late DeForest Kelly, but his perfect delivery of classic lines, demeanor, hatred for the “green-blooded hobgoblin” all sink in so well with the audience.
A lot has been said about Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto’s performance as the emotionally troubled, younger Spock works so well in the middle-stages of the film as a dramatic event really tests the half human/half Vulcan. Pine’s performance as the womanizing, eff-authority Kirk is just what you would imagine. We already know Kirk has a history of disregarding orders from a superior (as seen in Star Trek III), and it becomes fully realized how very good he is when we finally see his solution to the Kobayashi Maru test.
The rest of the cast is filled out nicely with Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and the stunning Zoe Saldana as Uhura. A welcome addition to the cast is Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike who’s character is fleshed out nicely compared to what we knew of him from the original, unaired Pilot, and subsequent TOS episode “The Menagerie”.
The aforementioned script issues and underwhelming menace don’t detract too much from the overall picture, however keen observers will blow open the fallacies and breakdown of basic logical thinking, but, honestly, you’re having too much fun to care. Even after repeated viewings you’re more than willing to let a few things slide as you gear up for the next set-piece, the next joke, the next overwhelmingly cool CGI shot that modernizes and energizes the film.
The thing about Star Trek is its exciting, from the moment it begins with Nero’s (Eric Bana) attack on the USS Kelvin, to the closing scene of the Enterprise warping away, its never tedius, the two hour runtime flows along, never ebbing, always keeping your eyes glued to the lens-flared screen and still provoking you like no Star Trek film has since The Undiscovered Country, or possibly First Contact.
It seems almost generic these days to call Star Trek a hip reboot of a successful franchise, and if there’s a less cliché term, please use it, but Abrams Star Trek adventure is just that, an adventure, a continuing voyage of the wagon train to the stars where heroes do exist, enemies lurk, and the faithful crew of the Federation flagship keeps us protected, even 40 years later.