Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Eric Bana
Directed by J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3)
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content
Appropriate for ages 10+ (but just try to keep a younger boy away from this)
This prequel to the original Star Trek series and movies begins with Kirk and Spock (Pine and Quinto) both as children and as rivals when they come to work together on the USS Enterprise. The enemy this time is Nero (Bana), a Romulan warlord from a different dimension determined to destroy Earth in order to avenge the destruction of his own planet.
It was apparent that the life had been stripped out of the Star Trek series until JJ Abrams and crew decided to reinvent it. While there had been ten movies before this one, none had ever been as successful as Star Wars, Close Encounters or other big-budget sci-fi films. Star Trek was kind of considered a genre within the genre. A sci-fi movie for nerds only (it’s ok – I’m a nerd – I can say that). But this categorization is not what Abrams wanted, because he didn’t fit in that category. So with this new reimagining, he is hoping to pull Star Trek out of that box-office graveyard and into true blockbuster status – and I think that he just might have done it.
The TV ad says proudly “This is not your father’s Star Trek,” and I, for one, agree. The first difference you will notice, if you’ve seen the old films, is that the special effects and production design show a huge improvement. That makes sense considering that the most expensive of the films was Nemesis, with a budget of $60 million, and this budget is estimated at a whopping $150 million. The first ten films always had a cheap look to them compared to other sci-fi films of their days. This new creation is truly state-of-the-art. Everything about it is big and beautiful, and you could tell that the limits were pushed.
The next difference you will see is in the acting. The original cast was iconic, and therefore the bad acting was somewhat forgivable. With the Next Generation came a new crew with better actors, but it still felt like bigger budget TV. This new cast brings with it much more talent and with that talent – a breath of fresh air. Pine and Quinto make for a terrific Kirk and Spock, and adding John Cho (Harold and Kumar) as Sulu and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) as Scotty was a touch of genius. And I can’t think of a better Dr. McCoy than Karl Urban who managed to steal scene after scene. Lastly, Eric Bana made for a truly terrifying baddie as Nero. It might help that the writing here by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers) is better than what the casts have had to work with in the past, but I’d still give a ton of credit to this cast and I can’t wait to see them in future installments.
One thing this new installment has in common with the others (at least the first couple of films) is a great score. Composer Michael Giacchinno (Ratatouille) creates a grand original score that is sure to be one of the best-selling soundtracks of the year. From the forceful french horns in the beginning to the homage to the original series at the end, this is one great piece of music.
The only slight criticism I have here is that there is just a little too much Leonard Nimoy in this film. I was lead to believe he had a cameo, but his part is much larger than that description. I realize that Abrams might have been trying to keep the Trekkies happy, but a little Nimoy could have gone a long way.
Overall, while I admit to being a nerd, I have never been a Trekkie. This film might have converted me. A