There’s a commercial running for the new Star Trek film that says “This is not your father’s Star Trek.” And for a change there is truth in advertising.
This new Star Trek is a conversion to the summer blockbuster. Whereas most Star Trek films in the past were released around Thanksgiving, this one will play well on a hot day where you can hide away in an air-conditioned theater with a big bucket of popcorn and an ice-cold soda.
I enjoyed most of the previous Star Treks (particularly Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the underrated Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek: First Contact), but I’m not what one would consider a Trekkie. I’ve seen maybe one episode of the original series and a good portion of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but that’s about it. And I can say unequivocally that I enjoyed this Star Trek far beyond anything that’s come before it. This is the most fun Star Trek has ever been.
Everything about this film is given a fresh spin: the way starships jump to warp, the sound of the phasers, the way teleportation looks. And the thematic nature of this Star Trek is a departure for the previous ten films. While the series was about an intergalactic crew of explorers and the films were by and large Horatio Hornblower in space, this film is much more like Star Wars with grand themes of world destruction and epic destiny.
The film is part origin story, part revenge story (perfect combination for a summer movie, right?). A Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) travels back in time seeking revenge for something that happens in the future (I won’t spoil it). His ship, the Nurada, possesses the Death Star-like technology to destroy planets. It’s up to a brash young crew of Starfleet cadets to stop him (hint: they are onboard the Starship Enterprise).
Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk is perhaps the biggest departure from the original characters (the changes are plot driven,). The trailer points out that Kirk’s father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes and saved 800 lives (including Kirk’s). Trekkies, no doubt, will realize this is a deviation from canon because Kirk’s father originally lived to see Kirk become captain of the Enterprise. So Pine’s Kirk is brash, rebellious and reckless in addition to the qualities that Shatner’s Kirk had (charismatic, strong, smart leader, good with the ladies).
The rest of the cast is fairly in line with their original counterparts. Zachary Quinto does an admirable job as Spock, Karl Urban is a scene stealer as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and Simon Pegg’s Montgomery Scott provides plenty of comic relief.
The film is not without its flaws. I won’t get into many of them here as they would induce spoilers. The first half of the film covers a lot of time while the second half covers a very short period. Some of the humor is a bit over the top and simplistic (particularly Scotty’s alien sidekick). And for some reason the new Enterprise’s engineering looks like a brewery.
The major drawback is, I fear, that this film may alienate the core, devoted Trekkies. I won’t get into major spoilers but there are major changes in the Star Trek canon in this film. I hope Trekkies accept the changes because efforts to reboot the franchise through additional television series and Next Generation movies have by and large failed to cross over to mainstream audiences. I sincerely hope that Trekkie nation embraces this film and the ones that will surely follow. Change can be a good thing - and, in this case, a very good thing. Come on, Trekkies - Yes we can!
Brett Deacon joined the Twitter nation: @brettdeacon.
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