STAR TREK: It's A New Beginning
STAR TREK (sci-fi fantasy)
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Winona Ryder, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin
Director: J.J. Abrams
Time: 125 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Let's face it, the last instalment, Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), was deemed the last nail in the coffin of the tired sci-fi franchise. Since then, most Trekkies have kissed the space opera goodbye.
Now, however, J.J. Abrams has boldly taken the franchise back to where many other franchises have been before - into Reboot territory. With it, we have promises of more outer space capers with the 'new' USS Enterprise and its crew. They look set to "live long and prosper".
And if that does not excite the legions of Trekkies all over the world, I don't know what will...
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The movie is an account of the birth of James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine), his wild, rebellious childhood, his recruitment into the Starfleet Academy and his first trip on board the spanking new USS Enterprise under Capt Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Sure, we get to meet the other crew members, namely Spock (Zachary Quinto), troubled half-human, half-Vulcan, and members of his family; the reluctant doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy (Karl Urban); the sexy linguist Uhura (Zoe Saldana), the gungho Sulu (John Cho) and a 17-year-old Russian named Chekov (Anton Yelchin). Later, Scotty (Simon Pegg) comes aboard as chief engineer - and you would want to 'roll out the barrel, cos the gang's all here!'
The villain here is the vengeful Romulan Nero (played with gusto by Eric Bana) - and there are lots of twists and surprises. These include a love interest for the 'emotion-deficit' Spock and an appearance by a famous original member of the Star Trek cast.
HITS & MISSES: Director Abrams brings intelligence, inventiveness and definitely, a new beginning to the franchise. He is mindful of its traditions, its history and its nostalgic appeal - and he treats them with reverence. Together with his scripters (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) he fleshes out Gene Roddenberry's iconic young characters, including the USS Enterprise, and gives them a 'history'. As such, we get to sympathise with them.
More importantly, he understands that the franchise is about fantasy and imagination - and he energises the prequel with state-of-the-art special effects, thrills and stunts (from Industrial Light + Magic). Indeed, Abrams brings new meaning to the famous phrase "Beam me up, Scotty!" when Chekov does it when his subjects are in motion. Other wonders include a time-travel subplot but it is more confusing than awe-inspiring.
However, it is the young and vibrant cast that help to make the movie work. Pine and Quinto (who plays Sylar on TV's Heroes) are ideal as leads in this space opera - and the others like Urban, Saldana, Cho and Yelchin not only look like their original players, they also provide humour and a few laughs as well.
THE LOWDOWN: Time to boldly go back to the cinema for new Star Trek thrills, folks.