, 127 min, 2009
Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime), Eric Bana (Nero), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Karl Urban (Bones), Zoe Saldana (Uhura (as Zoë Saldana)), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Ben Cross (Sarek), Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Jennifer Morrison (Winona Kirk), Rachel Nichols (Gaila). Directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Abrams and Damon Lindelof. Screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, based on the television series Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry.
J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek is a big, brassy, entertaining reboot of the popular, long-running sci-fi saga. It’s also silly, preposterous and, above all, just plain fun.
George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) was a Starfleet officer on a ship way back when who, when faced with a sudden crisis, was “given the Con” (allowed to take control of the Bridge). His wife Winona (Jennifer Morrison of TV’s House), pregnant at the time, was evacuated and had just enough time to, via com-link technology, talk to George in his final moments. They named their son James Tiberius Kirk.
Flash forward a decade or so and young James T. Kirk is something of a troublemaker, hotrodding around in a stolen vintage Corvette and blasting the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” on the old-timey music player. Meanwhile, on planet Vulcan, a sullen, serious young boy named Spock is being teased mercilessly by his classmates, who see him not as an equal but as an outsider (his father is Vulcan, his mother Human). His father Sarek (Ben Cross) is frustrated at his emotional outbursts but understands it’s “not his fault.” Meanwhile, his mother Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder) comforts him and tries to enstill human values in her otherwise logical young offspring.
Flash forward some more and James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is still a troublemaker on Earth, getting into bar fights and causing general mischief. One night, after a particularly nasty brawl, he’s approached by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). He’s told he should enlist in Starfleet, where he will meet such lifelong companions as Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), who sneaks Kirk onto his ship; the sexy Uhura (Zoe Saldana); the fencing whiz Sulu (John Cho); the impenetrably Russian-sounding Chekov (Anton Yelchin); the quirky Scottish engineer Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and – yes – Spock (Zachary Quinto of TV’s Heroes). They are all assigned to the Enterprise, a nice new starship that will go down in the annals of Starfleet history as a great vessel in their quest for galactic discovery and peace.
Meanwhile – this whole film takes place “meanwhile” – a Romulan captain called Nero (Eric Bana) seeks revenge for what he claims was the destruction “20 years ago” of his home planet. Through time travel, “black holes” (the scientific explanation of which here makes no real world sense), and dogged determination, he seeks to force Spock to watch the destruction of his home planet (Vulcan) and kidnaps Pike to force him to do the same (but with Earth). The scheme involves a giant cosmic drill, some sort of “red matter” making black holes appear from inside a planet’s core, and things of this nature which have become stock and trade in this series.
The film, directed by J.J. Abrams (TV’s Lost and Alias as well as Mission: Impossible III), is a reboot of the popular Star Trek franchise, which began as an NBC series starting in 1966 and lasting three seasons, spawning 4 spinoff series (my favorite was always Deep Space Nine, a ripoff of Babylon 5 though it may have been), and resulting in ten (yes, 10!) previous films, the least of which were the previous two (Insurrection in 1998 and Nemesis in 2002, also revolving around Romulans).
Okay, so the science is ridiculous. I don’t believe for a second that “black holes” can allow you to travel backward or forward in time, I don’t think that a drill of any sort or size can create such phenomena within the cores of planets, and I’m pretty sure that accusing Kirk and Spock of the destruction of Romulus is a little like accusing Gandhi of facilitating the Holocaust. That being said, ignore the science, and you’ll probably have a good time.
Regardless, this is certainly a jazzy, brassy, entertaining and very busy recreation that stays true to the spirit of the show, even featuring several in-references for long-time fans, and manages to create it anew for a younger audience. Ultimately, this is a vastly satisfying popcorn movie experience.