The first time I ever saw Star Trek
was in a re-run on Channel 2 at 6 p.m. My parents had recently
taken me to visit a comic book store for the very first
time, and behind the counter had been a bunch of Star
Trek books and memorabilia. Whether or not that was
as a tie-in to push those repeats on Channel 2, I don't
know. I was only six years old. I hadn't heard of synergy.
I just knew that that first episode I saw,
fittingly enough "The Trouble with Tribbles," had me hooked.
Nobody, not even Batman (broadcasting two hours earlier
on that same Bat-channel), was as cool as Captain Kirk.
Sitting down for J.J. Abrams' reboot of
Gene Roddenberry's franchise, I got that feeling again.
Star Trek isn't fit only for six year olds, but it
does recapture that excitement, that sheer joy at watching
the crew of the Starship Enterprise boldly going where no
one has gone before.
Even if, yeah, we have kind of been here
It's just never been this shiny, paying
homage to everything that has gone before while staking
out a whole new claim. Much mockery has been made of Abrams'
oft use of lens flares, but as an artistic choice, it really
goes far to subtly offer us hope that the future will
be bright. Something new and exciting may very well be happening
just over the horizon, and if we can maintain ourselves
with the nobility of Starfleet, we may just get there.
That starts with the sacrifice of two Captains
- though of course you're going to focus on George Kirk
(Chris Hemsworth). Don't lose sight that two fine officers
save the crew of the U.S.S. Kelvin, the first being Captain
Robau (Faran Tahir, one of Iron Man's villains).
Both men make tense decisions in facing the unexpected threat
of the Romulan commander Nero (Eric Bana), and in the first
gripping three minutes of this film, you see the best of
And then Star Trek becomes an origin
story, of sorts, of Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary
Quinto): who they are and how they came to be. Except throughout
this telling, things ring somehow …wrong, but in a right
The very presence of Nero, it seems, has
altered history, and this isn't our Kirk and Spock.
Despite 87 television episodes (plus the animated series)
and seven movies, their destinies really aren't written.
Though we may be confident we know how it will end, Abrams
and his screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzmann have
given us enough room to doubt. Once again, we have suspense
in a Star Trek movie, and not once does it feel cheap.
That's not that this adventure is flawless.
Though dictated by some time-travel necessity, it seems
a little odd that Nero and his crew stay completely inactive
for twenty-five years between attacks. For that matter,
Bana's performance never transcends the character's brooding
to stand out as a memorable villain. He's strictly working-class,
a Romulan miner, but twenty-five years of hatred don't do
anything to hone him.
part of the origin story, it feels odd to have Chekov (Anton
Yelchin) shoe-horned in, but the script ends up giving him
more to do than in the original series - and offers specific
enough characterization to make him a valuable part of the
ensemble. Though not everyone gets a huge amount of screen
time, they all get enough focus to set them apart with more
than just a nod, with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in particular
becoming a far more vivid character than she ever was in
majority of the time, of course, goes to Kirk and Spock,
and both actors recreate the roles without resorting to
impersonation. Pine has his own swagger, and though no one
could really replace William Shatner, the younger actor
fills Kirk's shoes well enough to make you set the older
aside. As a younger Spock, Quinto has a little more reign
to let emotions bubble under the surface than Leonard Nimoy
did, but in a weird way, the two actors feed off of each
other to make them believably the same character.
For me, the big discovery is Karl Urban
as Doctor McCoy. His voice isn't nearly as whiskey-gravelled
as DeForest Kelley's was, but it's on its way. He has the
rhythms down, but also puts his own spin on the delivery.
This should be the role that breaks Urban out of B-level
action star status and into some more serious work.
watching Star Trek, I wanted to immediately catch
it on a re-run, suddenly giddy about the 23rd Century once
more. I'd like more of that bright and shiny future now,