43 years ago a guy named Gene Roddenberry put together a pilot for a show featuring a handsome captain, a brave first officer, and a point-eared greenish guy. And the show was promptly not picked up. So Roddenberry shuffled some things around, put the pointy-eared guy in the first officer role, recast the rest of the crew, and began a journey that spanned six tv series and ten movies, while on its way to becoming an unparalleled cultural phenomenon. Now, with JJ Abrams new movie, Star Trek, we’ve come full circle.
I’ll try to avoid major spoilers, but I think it’s safe to say that the movie features time travel and a possible alternate timeline. The movie begins with the divergence from the established timeline as the villainous Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana), travels back from the post-Nemesis era to the post-Enterprise era.
We follow young James Kirk (Chris Pine) and young Spock (Zachary Quinto) as they overcome somewhat troubled childhoods to find themselves as foes after Kirk does something that he’s rather famous for in the old timeline (I won’t give it away – one of the joys of this movie is spotting all the old familiar things that old Trekkies like me love). Soon Nero rears his tattooed head and we’re finally on board our old friend, the U.S.S. Enterprise. Man. The ship has rarely looked better.
What follows is basically the story of the first mission that the TOS crew embarks on. There are generous portions of Star Wars thrown into the mix, with spectacular space battles, epic stunts, and even a visit to Hoth (okay, maybe it’s not Hoth, but it’s definitely cut from the same cloth) where he runs into an OLD friend (Leonard Nimoy) in one of the movies best scenes.
By the end of the movie, the crew is all in place and Kirk is behind the conn of the ship he will grow to love more than perhaps anything else in the galaxy. And speaking of the crew, each of them gets at least one moment to shine, with Uhura and Scotty probably being the real stand-outs. And yes, there really was no way that I could see them working William Shatner into the movie.
There are quite a few questions this new timeline opens up that may or may not be answered in subsequent movies/tv series, but for now I’m just enjoying the experience of watching the first really great Trek movie since 1996’s First Contact. This new Trek is right up there with the best of the series.
There are criticisms, but they are minor. I’m not sure I’m sold on the new timeline. I get why they did it, but I think I’d rather see a movie set in the next NEXT generation than going back to TOS. There are enough lens flares for thirty Star Trek movies. And it might be a little TOO Star Warsy. But I repeat, these are minor, minor criticisms. On the whole, the movie works on all cylinders.
I’m leaving out most of the details. This is a movie you should experience for yourself. It’s an action-packed popcorn sci-fi movie that’s perfectly cast and expertly directed. Highly recommended.