Even the term reboot sounds space age. With every Hollywood studio clamoring to get it hands on every penny of the ever-diminishing box office, its no surprise that they turn to tried and true recipes rather than taking too many risks with anything even bearing a passing semblance to originality. The recent (and to be continued) slew of classic films, landmark tv shows, heck even bad films and tv shows, being remade is staggering. Its not so surprising then to see the tried and true Star Trek franchise return from the grave once more. Never in film and television history has one franchise seen so many reinventions. From the cult short-lived series from visionary creator Gene Roddenberry (starring the immortal William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy) through the inconsistent film series and numerous spin offs (Enterprise, Voyager, Next Generation et al), Star Trek has long been exploring every crease of space, the final frontier.
The new reboot courtesy of director/producer J J Abrams (Felicity, Alias and Lost fame) is surprising solid. With each of Abrams previous outings, he has progressively found ways to explore every day human dilemmas but placed within increasingly wild and far fetched scenarios- from high school angst, teen pregnancy and big hair in Felicity through to post traumatic stress syndrome, pregnancy (again) and clashing male egos (albeit on a ‘is it or isn’t it’ island) in Lost. With Star Trek, space becomes his biggest canvas yet and he invests the story of a young James Kirk (Chris Pine) and his journey from local hooligan to courage under pressure captain with an appropriate sense of emotional gravitas. The story however belongs to Spock (‘Heroes’ Zacary Quinto), as he deals with the conflicts he feels with identity, and the conflict between Vulcan ‘logic’ and Human ‘emotion’.
The special effects are as expected – spectacular- and Eric Bana has a ball playing the villain Nero without ever overacting. The original series at its best had a sense of heightened reality and it’s a fine line, but Bana mixes in just the right amounts of menace to keep things grounded. The same cannot be said for some of the supporting characters. John Cho and Karl Urban as Sulu and Bones respectively are solid but Simon Pegg as Scotty and Anton Yelchin as Chekov ham it up ridiculously. There are some nice cameos from Winona Ryder and an original Star Trek alumni (although whose appearance provides a plot gap large enough to warp into) to watch out for.
Star Trek is a fun pop corn blockbuster and tries to keep true to Roddenberry’s original vision for the show, highlighting and exploring alternative models of government and power, as well as social relations into the future. It is only the first part however in what can be expected to be a long run, and this is maybe its greatest strength and greatest weakness. By the time the final explosion fades from the screen, you have been nicely introduced to all the main players, but are left waiting for the real adventure to begin.
You will love it if: you can recite the Vulcan code of honor (and prob even if you can’t).
You will hate it if: you’re just getting sick of watching big budget (but ultimately) repeats.
Star Trek is in cinemas now.