Finally! The summer movie season begins for real with the release today of Star Trek, J.J. Abrams’ rebooting of the venerable series. Taking us back to the beginning of the characters we know and love (Spock, Kirk, Uhura, Bones, et al), Star Trek is the film that the old 1979 snoozer with chrome-domed Persis Khambatta should have been.
It introduces us to Star Fleet students awaiting their “five year mission” and is respectful of the original series. The central conflict involves a rogue Romulan, played by an unrecognizable Eric Bana, who exacts terrible revenge against those he holds responsible for his wife’s death (where have I heard that before? Oh, that’s right. Everywhere!). Unoriginal motivations notwithstanding, Bana makes a fearsome (if not Khan-worthy) villain, and Abrams throws enough time-shifting elements into the story to keep it suspenseful, and the appearance of Leonard Nimoy is handled perfectly.
The new cast are wonderful “Trekkie babies” who give uniformly great performances. It’s not easy when William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and Nimoy are such beloved icons, but Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg and especially Karl Urban put their own spins on the roles.
The special effects are terrific, the action scenes are suspenseful and the personal relationships are involving. This Star Trek boldly goes where Gene Roddenberry went before, and does the late creator proud. So far, Trek is the blockbuster to beat this summer.
UPDATE: Star Trek is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.
Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.