Star Trek is very probably the most widely known and most revered science fiction franchise of all time, so to say that JJ Abrams’ long awaited reboot of the franchise kept a lot of Trekkies awake at night for a very long time would be an understatement. At first, it was the usual fanboy whineiness that Trekkies are infamous for, but then, slowly but surely, as footage and trailers emerged, the complaints turned to faint optimism, and then to excitement, as it became clear that JJ Abrams might just know what he’s doing.
Star Trek cleverly solves the "reboot" problem by creating in the opening sequence, not a new Star Trek universe, but rather an alternate one, one that is aware of the existence of the other universe, but that is subtly different.
Chris Pine does an excellent job as Kirk, bringing a freshness and humour to the role that Shatner hadn’t managed in a great many years. Zachery Quinto is great as Spock, with a superb passing-the-torch cameo from Leonard Nemoy. The rest of the cast also perform well, with no obvious weak or grating performance. Visually, Star Trek is stunning. With special effects from ILM, the Enterprise and the Romulan ship look spectacular, and the space battles are excellent. (One minor gripe is that the film ranks a bit too high on the lens-flare-o-meter, but it is a minor gripe.)
One thing that Abrams has managed to do very well, it must be said, is introduce a real sense of humour to the Star Trek universe. Not in a knowing, slapstick sort of way, but he gives the characters and the script a sense of humour that no other incarnation of Trek has had before, despite Shatner’s best efforts. Bones and Scotty crack one-liners, Kirk is a part-time comedian, and there are moments of brilliant physical comedy. (Who didn’t chuckle a little bit when Kirk turned to run from the giant space bear-ant-eater thing? Who didn’t giggle when Scotty’s little alien helper Keenser stifled a tear?)
However, in doing so, Abrams has shifted away from some of the things that were a part of the core of Star Trek, such as complex plots or social commentary; but he replaces them with an enthusiasm and energy that the franchise lacked terribly during the days when Brannon Braga was at the helm. This considered, it is hard to hold it against Abrams for wanting to make Star Trek more fun and accessible, and the end result is so enjoyable that any such gripes are quickly forgotten. Besides, for the true Trekkie, there are more than enough in-jokes and references to convince you that Abrams’ cares about the Star Trek universe. But more than that, for the first time ever, Abrams has managed to make Star Trek cool, to make it the "must-see" film of the summer so far, and for that we can only congratulate him.
A highly entertaining, well paced, well performed film from beginning to end, Star Trek hopefully marks the beginning of a new canon to add to the franchise. I for one would like to see more. A.