Review by Jack Foley
JJ ABRAMS may have seemed like an odd choice to reboot the Star Trek franchise given that he candidly admits to not having been a fan prior to boarding his latest directing enterprise. But he proves an inspired one.
Star Trek is a thrill-ride of a blockbuster that boldly goes where few fans would have dared and, in doing so, cleverly re-writes the future to pave the way for future adventures.
It’s an origins story that chronicles the first flight of the Starship Enterprise and the coming together of its iconic crew.
It picks up mid-battle, as James Tiberius Kirk is born amid the mayhem of a Romulan attack that leaves his father dead, and then skips a few years as the young rebel (Chris Pine) is dared by a Starfleet captain (Bruce Greenwood) to join the academy and better his father’s memory.
Vulcan Spock (Zachary Quinto), meanwhile, finds himself feeling like an outsider because of his human mother.
Both end up aboard the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage and on a collision course with Nero (Eric Bana), the vengeful Romulan responsible for Kirk’s father’s death and the destruction of Spock’s Vulcan planet. Can they sort out their differences for the greater good?
Abrams may not be a Trekkie, but his film contains plenty of nods to Star Trek folklore as well as a fierce identity of its own.
By creating an alternative reality by way of a time travel plot device, Abrams ensures that he can be both reverential to the fanbase and cavalier with regard to the future. The result is a film that actually can appeal to newcomers (like me) as much as it appeals to the show’s long-term followers.
And his young cast excel. Pine, about whom I had early doubts, combines the brashness of William Shatner’s Kirk with a toughness more akin to Indiana Jones and a derring-do that owes much to Tom Cruise in Top Gun, while Quinto gets Spock’s intellectual arrogance down to a tee.
But there’s strong support from a cast that’s easy to warm to, whether it’s Zoe Saldana’s sexy Uhura (now interestingly given a romance with Spock), Karl Urban’s loyal Bones or Simon Pegg’s funny Scotty.
Bana, almost unrecognisable, oozes menace as Nero and could have benefited from a little more time, while Greenwood is typically likeable as the captain who roots for Kirk and gives him his shot. Leonard Nimoy, meanwhile, brings plenty of warmth and no little poignance to his extended cameo as the older Spock, whose presence is vital to the time travel device.
Story-wise, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman clearly have fun broadening the parameters set by the series, whilst adding plenty of nods for the eagle-eyed fans among you, and Abrams ensures that the spectacle missing from the original TV series is splashed across the big screen. There are fights, battles, mega-explosions, monsters and hyper-space jumps galore to ensure this looks and feels every inch a summer blockbuster.
There are quibbles. Fans of JJ Abrams’ Lost may lament the time travelling element yet again, while the generous running time does give rise to the occasional lull.
But on the whole, this is rip-roaring entertainment and huge, huge fun that should ensure the new-look Star Trek will live long and prosper, both in memory and franchise terms.
Running time: 2hrs 10mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 16, 2009
Check out some character photos in our Star Trek Character Gallery
- Buy the 1-disc edition on DVD (Amazon)
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- Read our review
- Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto interview
- JJ Abrams interview
- Simon Pegg interview
- Zoe Saldana and John Cho interview
- Karl Urban and Eric Bana interview
- View photos of the Star Trek UK Premiere
- Star Trek Berlin premiere
- Star Trek world premiere photo gallery
- Star Trek - first footage reviewed