42 year-old director J.J. Abrams, creator of TV’s “Alias” and “Lost,” has done the impossible: not only resurrected Gene Roddenberry’s 43 year-old “Star Trek” franchise, a concept that was built on space-age idealism, but also re-imagined it for cynical 21st century moviegoers.
Utilizing an ingenious ‘alternate reality’ device and a bit of time-travel by Leonard Nimoy (the only original cast member to appear), it explores the backstory of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew. There’s reckless, self-assured James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine from “Princess Diary 2”), sneaking aboard the departing USS Enterprise starship on its maiden voyage with his wry buddy, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban from “The Bourne Supremacy”), after matching wits at Starfleet Academy with the half-Vulcan/half-human Spock (Zachary Quinto from “Heroes”). He’s has already caught the amorous eye of seductive Uhura (Zoe Saldana from “Drumline”), the alert communications officer who picks up and translates the distress call that summons them to their new adventure: trying to thwart the wrath of Nero (Eric Bana from “Troy” and “Munich”), the Romulan villain determine to wreak revenge for a horrific disaster that has yet to happen.
On the bridge is pilot Hikaru Sulu (John Cho from “American Pie”) with navigator Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin from “Alpha Dog” via Leningrad). And in the midst of battle, ingenious engineer Montgomery Scott (British comedian Simon Pegg from “Shaun of the Dead”) beams up, deciding, “I like this ship. It’s exciting!” He’s right.
Thanks to J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, there are a number of subtle references to “Trek” history, like the appearance of stoic Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and McCoy’s disclaimer, “I’m a doctor, not a physicist,” and sputtering to Spock, “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?” But if you’ve never traveled at warp speed before, it doesn’t matter because the heart and humor are there. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Star Trek” boldly blasts off with a terrific 10 and warps into a new galaxy of entertaining sci-fi adventure.