After a stumbling start with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (see Rachelle’s review here), the summer 2009 movie season got kicked off properly last night with the first shows of J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek makeover, featuring young, angsty versions of the original cast—Kirk, Spock, etc.—in a universe that is not quite the same as the one we all know but is still somehow canon. How, exactly, requires me to discuss plot points that I don’t want to get into (spoilers and all), but it’s not important anyway. What is important is that the new Star Trek is a hell of a good time, and exactly what this series needed.
Without giving too much away, a Romulan bad guy named Nero has traveled back in time, to back before the original series, to mess with history in various diabolical ways. Along the way, he encounters the USS Enterprise and its crew of fledgling recruits, who have to get over their various differences to stop him from blowing up lots of planets and messing up the spacetime continuum. More than he already has, I mean—his interference has already altered the timeline, meaning that the future as we know it is not set anymore (a handy trick of the filmmakers, one that sidesteps Wolverine’s lack of suspense in knowing that the character survives for at least three more movies). The wonky pseudoscience that has always accompanied the Star Trek brand name and its recurring time travel plotlines allows for an almost literal cosmic reset button, which will hopefully keep the die-hard fans content, while also making way for director J.J. Abrams’ sexy, flashy new vision of the Star Trek universe—while, finally, not in any way contradicting What Has Gone Before.
The cast is pretty much uniformly great—Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, as Kirk and Spock, respectively, inhabit their characters without resorting to imitations, the supporting characters all get to have cool moments where we see why they’re all destined for greatness, and the space battles and fight scenes are all exciting to watch. There are a lot of fun nods to the original series, but not obnoxiously so. There are some moments of fairly goofy humour, but that’s not so out of place either—never let it be said that Star Trek, in any of its incarnations, is above a lame gag or three. And seriously, when’s the last time we had a good space adventure flick? One that didn’t take place in some depressing dystopia, but in a future where all (or most, anyway) races have come together to get stuff done? By the end of this movie, I was pretty much begging for a sequel, but that’s probably still about three years away. Not soon enough! Great job, everyone involved.