JJ Abrams, who hooked me on his addictive “Lost,” clearly knows how to meld otherworldly mysteries with wonderfully developed characters. Could he do the same for the imploding “Star Trek” franchise?
There were plenty of girls who ran home when I was a kid, not wanting to miss one second of “Star Trek.” I was not one of them.
Sure, I remember William Shatner playing the chest thrusting intergalactic love machine and Leonard Nimoy gracing the pages of “Tiger Beat” and “16 Magazine,” wistful in his half Vulcanized mystery.
But a fan? Not me.
J.J. Abrams has made it crystal clear he, too, was no Trekkie (or should we say Trekker?) when he began this ambitious reboot of the classic TV and movie series. While his admission instilled panic in “Star Trek” fans, I, among the observers sitting on the sidelines, was curious about how he‘d fly into the galactic universal culture that the series had become.
This director who hooked me–now that I’m somewhat of an adult–, on his addictive “Lost,” clearly knows how to meld otherworldly mysteries with wonderfully developed characters. Could he do the same for the imploding “Star Trek” franchise?
The answer? Oh yea, baby.
Abrams and his writing partners, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtsman, have delivered a “Star Trek” that’s for non-fanatics, as well as for those who don Spock ears and build model Enterprises.
Don’t panic: from the appreciative gasps and applause I heard at the screening I attended, the prequel works for the purists, too. But, by balancing the standard “we’re out to save the Federation” stuff with some downright irresistible character back story (and nifty casting), this Star Trek soars.
After a knockout opening sequence, establishing Kirk’s rather unusual entry into this (or was it another?) world, the story settles into the until now relatively unexplored history of how Kirk, Spock and the others embarked on their journeys into the unknown. We find out what may inspire some of Kirk’s cocky confidence, why Spock is always trying to shove those pesky emotions aside, where Scotty learned to “beam me up” and even why the crew puts up with the crabby McCoy. As terrifically brought to life by actors Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, a scene stealing Simon Pegg and a likeably cranky Karl Urban, these archetypes are fresh and fun. Zoe Saldana makes a stunningly self-assured Uhura. And who isn’t going to be happy to see Leonard Nimoy show up to don the ears of Spock Prime?
For the next installment (and yes, Virginia, there will be a next time), Abrams might want to ramp up the emotional depth of the story line he tells. While I got an appreciative kick out of Nimoy’s speech, in which he quickly sums up some 100 years of plot points, I also missed the trademark intra-species compassion that gave a real profundity to the series. And try to get those repetitive fight scenes, where guys keep on smashing each other with clenched fists, as exciting as the warp speed special effects stuff.
Knit picking aside, there’s no question Abrams and crew have gone where no man has gone before, boldly creating a crowd friendly sensation that, even in this season of a-blockbuster-a-week, should live long and prosper.