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star-trek-trailer-image-28After five television series, ten movies, countless books, comics and video games, a stage version and even an Ice Capades style show is there anything left, story wise, to do with Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise? Director J.J. Abrams, the brains behind hit TV shows like Felicity, Lost and Fringe, thinks so and has re-launched the big screen franchise, which has lain fallow since 2002’s Nemesis. Simply called Star Trek, he takes audiences where no man (or director) has gone before, back to the very beginning of the story before Kirk bore an uncanny resemblance to T.J. Hooker.

In this prequel to the original series James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is a young punk; a thrill seeking juvenile delinquent son of a dead hero recruited to join Starfleet Academy by an associate of his father’s. On another planet is Spock (Zachary Quinto), a half human, half Vulcan outcast who becomes the first of his race to be accepted into the Starfleet Academy. Soon their paths will cross as they are assigned to the maiden voyage of the most advanced starship ever created, the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). On their first dangerous mission they will become the original intergalactic odd couple as they find a way to stop the vengeful Romulan villain Nero (Eric Bana with Mike Tyson-esque tattoos on his face) from destroying all of mankind.

With Star Trek J.J. Abrams has made the first great popcorn movie of the year. Notice I didn’t say sci-fi movie. Star Trek is a lot of things but despite all the talk of warp speed, black holes and time travel, it can’t be classified as science fiction. This is a character based space serial more concerned with the burgeoning relationship between Spock and Kirk than with photon thrusters. That may bother the purists and the Roddenberries but shouldn’t trouble anyone simply looking for a good time at the movies.

Abrams gets right into the thick of things, front loading the movie with two wild action scenes in the first ten minutes. It’s edge of the seat stuff that neatly gives Captain James T a back story and sets the tone for the rest of the film. It’s big. It’s loud. It’s bombastic. It’s also the best Trek since The Wrath of Khan.

Abrams succeeds because he isn’t precious with the source material. All the prerequisite catchphrases—“Live long and prosper”—are there, coupled with some sly homages to the show’s history—Trekkers will note the fruition of Kirk’s flirtation with the green Orion woman from the TV show—but he’s more interested in creating an overall entertainment experience than displaying reverence for Roddenbery’s creation. The subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social commentary of the series has gone the way of the spent lithium crystals from season two, episode four, replaced by flat out action that engages the eye but not the brain. In terms of CGI Abrams has set phasers to stunning. It’s state of the art and will make your eyeballs dance.
Star Trek is an origin story that works. It has heart, ferocious CGI and is dead cool. It’s the best movie geek-out since Iron Man. In the words of Scotty (Simon Pegg), “I like this ship. It’s exciting.”

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