We just got back from seeing Star Trek on IMAX and I can happily say: J.J. Abrams gets it. And by “it” I mean that audiences are always looking for that new myth, the story of heroes and villians that makes us want to jump out over seats, spill our popcorn and yell “Yeah!” Star Trek is that movie.
As a die-hard fan, I’ll say I walked into this with great hopes for a good movie that stayed true to the vision of the first. As a fan of good story lines in sci-fi, I was ready to settle with, just make it a good long episode in the vein of ST:TOS (told ya I was a fan). Ok, I lied, I would’ve preferred leave good enough alone, don’t go back to the endlessly rehashed Kirk-Spock friendship and focus on either a DS9 movie (Cuz you know Ronald D. Moore has some free time on his hands now) or go with Peter David’s The New Frontier. Abrams proved me wrong by finding a new wrinkle in the Kirk-Spock bromance and fleshing out all the other characters on the bridge (and even some redshirts) with good backstories and contributions to the story that go beyond just showing up. Again, he’s given a new mythology to latch on to.
*Here Be Spoilers*
One thing I hate about time-travel stories, they never have any lasting consequences. Folks go back, forward, sideways in time and nothing changes. Not in this movie. Abrams starts off the film with a major temporal distortion of epic proportions that affects the entire history of the NCC-1701 and her crew. For reals.
A complete reset of the legendary five year mission with distinct alteration to give us a fresh story but with enough familiarity to let us know that this is the Star Trek lore we love.
The best example is Karl Urban portrayal of Dr Bones McCoy, equal parts homage to DeForest Kelley and equal parts foil to Kirk and Spock. Zoe Saldana’s Uhura brings the hotness to the bridge but in a new package filled with personal agency, professional drive and compassion for her man. Again, everybody in the original crew gets to contribute to the story in their own way.
The most important thing Abrams understands about Star Trek: It’s all about Spock. Yes, Kirk is great and leads THE most charmed life in the Federation but the character that’s fueled the engine for most of the franchise if Spock. Zachary Quinto portrayal of the child of Vulcan logic and human emotions shows both without resorting to being mechanical or having to cry so we know he feels something. We know he feels emotion cuz he’s always suppressing it and it comes out in the story.
With a new universe to play with and what will probably be one of this summer’s highest grossing films, what will Abrams do next?
My guess the next Star Trek will have the Enterprise crew meet up with the SS Botany Bay and a brand new Khan Noonien Singh played by (drumroll) Benicio del Toro.