Director: J J Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Nimoy, Anton Yelchin, John Cho
“Space: the final frontier, blah blah blah…” I am not a Trekkie. I was always more of a Star Wars fan – Star Trek, somehow, never appealed to me as much. But Abrams’ reboot, a ballistic, blistering, belter of a movie, might have just converted me. Sassy, snappy, and slick to the last, it’s everything a sci-fi film should be. Unlike Lucas’ second trilogy – this is far more than a poxy prequel.
Telling the tale of Kirk and Spock: The Early Years, Star Trek faces quite a challenge: we know what happens to them later on, so does James T. really have to look like Bill S.? The answer, in classic tradition, comes down to two words: time travel.
Yes, black holes abound in Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s screenplay. The good kind of black holes. The sciencey ones. That suck planets into nothing and send people back 120 years to meet their younger selves. In an alternate universe, naturally.
This strange new world brings with it new life and new civilizations – a blank canvas for Abrams to do it all over again. And so we have Kirk (Pine) born mid-battle, his father having died in a Big Horrible Explosion. 22 years later, Kirk is drinking his way through life, a reckless, womanising rogue. Phwoar. After a punch-up with some peeps from Starfleet, he decides to sign up.
Spock (Quinto) is still struggling with his half-human, half-Vulcan identity. His father married a human mother (Winona Ryder), but is giving into emotion highly illogical? The Vulcans think so, labelling her a disability. That’s enough to spur Spock on to join Starfleet too. And so the collision course is set for sci-fi’s greatest love story of all time: Kirk and Spock. Except at the moment, they hate each other's guts.
Skipping through the academy education, we see Kirk cheat the Kobayashi Maru test, before heading out on his first mission – comically snuck aboard by Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Urban). But it is, inevitably, a trap. Remember that Big Horrible Explosion from before? Well, back in the old reality, big Spock (Nimoy) failed to save the Romulans from being wiped out. So angry alien Nero (Bana) goes back in time to wipe out the Vulcans instead, including little Spock and all his pointy-eared friends. And then wreak his revenge upon the rest of the Federation.
All this temporal tomfoolery zips along at a terrifying pace. Once things start to blow up (i.e. in the first 5 minutes), Abrams really lets rip, ramping up the speed to warp level something-or-other, and never slows down. Packing in action-filled set pieces, he showers the cosmos in chaos with a breathtaking determination (and a spectacular special effects team). Throwing in the odd fanboy treat, the Trekkie-ness is tempered by Abrams’ blockbusting smarts – a balance that hasn’t been seen since The Empire Strikes Back.
Characters feel fleshed out, too, with crew members Scotty (Pegg), Sulu (Cho) Chekov (Yelchin) and Uhura (Saldana) more than just along for the ride. Exposition on the fly, back story in between bursting starships? Anything’s possible. Even jokes comes thick and fast, alongside the well-pitched level of emotional turmoil. More than anything, perhaps, the most impressive feature of the film is its sense of humour; led by a charismatic Chris Pine, he, Quinto, and the rest of the cast give such unselfconscious performances that their spot-on comic timing comes right to the fore. A shining new crew for the sparkling white Enterprise, then. After this, they can boldly go wherever the hell they want.
Fast, funny, buckets of fun – this is perfect summer entertainment. Less a reboot and more a reformat, Star Trek is an all-out sprint to the finish. Exhilarating stuff.