After a gap of four years (seven, if you’re talking about the movies) Star Trek makes its return under the wing of Lost creator Abrams, whose reboot of the franchise featuring The Original Series characters of Kirk, Spock, Bones et al – using younger, more nubile actors to fill the iconic parts – has been eagerly awaited by the franchise’s many fans.
So has he succeeded? On the whole, yes. The action is sound throughout, with plenty of thrilling intergalactic shootouts and phaser fights to keep those brought up on the new Star Wars films happy. There’s also a particularly impressive skydive (or should that be space dive?) sequence that includes a singular moment of hilarity that will have old school Trekkers’ unabashedly laughing out loud. Indeed, the film’s little homages to Roddenberry’s original are well played throughout, not so evident as to interrupt the flow but enough to satisfy fans of the franchise too.
Pine is very good as the young Jim Kirk, capturing the swagger, petulance and sexual charisma of Starfleet’s most famous captain. Equally, Urban is fantastic as Bones, despite a lack of much to do, and produces an uncannily accurate impersonation of DeForest Kelley’s memorable Southern drawl. Saldana and Cho are also good as Uhuru and Sulu respectively – Cho thankfully being asked to act rather than play the kind of comic foil we’re used to seeing him produce in the Harold And Kumar films. However, on the flipside, Quinto is disappointing as Spock, a character who’s gone through the most drastic changes in the new film – he’s more emotionally rampant than a tribble on heat. Quinto’s surprisingly soft performance simply underscores how impressive Nimoy was as the emotionally repressed alien in the original series – fans will pleased to note that Nimoy is as good as ever in this. Meanwhile, Pegg’s Scotty and Yelchin’s Chekov appear to only be in the movie for light relief, suggesting that if you’ve got a funny accent then you must be a figure of fun – you can only laugh at “nuclear wessels” so many times. And although Bana’s baddy, Nero, is a step up from Nemesis’ Shinzon, he’s not nearly as memorable as Khan, General Chang or the Borg Queen.
There’s no question that Abrams has produced an exciting and entertaining film, a slick mix of explosions, drama and humour. But if you removed Star Trek from the title and changed the names of the principle characters, it would be nothing more than a perfectly enjoyable but wholly average sci-fi romp. Gone are the moral, social and political nuances that underpinned so much of what made Star Trek Star Trek. This is a non-taxing, popcorn-munching, wham-bam actioner of a movie that delivers immediate thrills and still comes highly recommended, but is missing the kind of science fiction vision or intellectual nous that makes the likes of The Wrath Of Khan, The Voyage Home and First Contact such unforgettable entries in the Star Trek lexicon.