By Roman S. Koenig
Like a building stripped to the foundation and rebuilt for a new era, producer/director J.J. Abrams’ interpretation of the venerable “Star Trek” takes the essence of what fandom has grown to love and makes it something anyone can enjoy.
Essentially an origin story, the new “Star Trek” film offers exquisite special effects of incredible depth and realism with characters who don’t quite seem entirely comfortable in outer space. It’s a place that’s gritty, multi-layered – and entirely unsafe – as audiences, fan and nonfan alike, discover.
The script by Abrams’ team members Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is relatively tight, although the pacing of the show slows a bit when the Old and New Worlds of “Star Trek” come into contact.
When Leonard Nimoy’s aged Ambassador Spock explains how he returns to meet his younger self (Zachary Quinto), it’s the one point in the movie where nonfans of the franchise might yawn a bit. Nonetheless, Nimoy’s handoff to a new “original” generation of characters is done with honor.
The new troupe of actors filling the original iconic roles does a great job keeping their recognizable essence while giving new moviegoers and fans a fresh take on them. Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk takes to the captain’s chair like he was born for it, now with added sharpness. Quinto’s Spock is as logical as ever, yet a bit more human – more accessible. Karl Urban’s “Bones” McCoy reproduces the character’s wry observations without camp or cliché – it’s character, not caricature.
Eric Bana’s villain Nero is a man hell bent on ruining the past for the destruction of his future. Bana’s performance doesn’t overrun the film. Even Nero knows that the “Star Trek” universe doesn’t revolve around him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t irreparably change it.
The changes to “Star Trek” overall are good ones, though, sans the product plugs for Nokia and Budweiser – disappointing, too-obvious interruptions to a universe that up to now was devoid of such tricks. That aside, this new “Star Trek” universe seems welcome to all moviegoers, and ready for a long life on the big screen.