Note: This post may consider some spoilers
Yesterday I managed to make some time to see the new Star Trek movie, and was completely blown away! Over the last decade, Star Trek has endured black eye after black eye between the last two movies, as well as the way Enterprise sputtered into cancelation. When I heard the news of the movie, I was just grateful that we’d have some incarnation of Star Trek. Essentially the bar was set very low, but Abrams not only met the bar, but raised it another mile! With one movie Abrams accomplished something the makers of the other 10 movies could not: make Star Trek appeal to mainstream without sacrificing the principles that Trek fans hold so dear.
Abrams accomplished this by rebooting the series, but in a way that bridged the connections between old Trek and this new Trek. Unlike movies like Batman Begins and The Hulk which pretended those movies never existed, Abrams found a way to break the precious Star Trek continuity and paved the way to create new stories for our favorite characters. Is this an alternate reality, or is the Trek timeline permanently altered? This is an issue that I’ll let people geekier than I debate, but I am glad that Star Trek has cleared the canvas for future movies.
The decision to reboot an franchise as established as Trek was probably not one taken lightly, but was made respectfully. This was made in the various ways that homage was paid to the staples of Star Trek. I love how a guy got red-shirted, and how they incorporated the old sound effects from the original TV show. There were also little pieces of nostalgia that were fed to fans (like Khan’s bug that wraps around cerebral cortex)
I thought the most difficult hurdle for the actors was going to be accepting the new actors as their beloved characters. Initially I had difficulty in the adjustment, but half-way through the movie something clicked and they all started to work. Chris Pine suddenly exhibited the Kirk-like characteristics, and the lines he spoke brought back memories of Kirk. With the exception of Spock (which I’ll get to in one moment), all of the cast members did a wonderful job playing into the role of their characters. When I watched Superman Returns, I thought that Brandon Routh didn’t play Superman as much as he played Christopher Reeve playing Superman. In Star Trek, the actors went the opposite route: rather than try to portray the original actors, they portrayed the characters. Pine didn’t try to be William Shatner, he tried to be Captain Kirk. I also thought McCoy was spot-on. Spock was the exception however, and it’s no fault of Zachary Quinto’s acting ability – it has everything to do with his popularity. Quinto’s role as Sylar in Heroes, a cult sci-fi series, simply makes it that much more difficult to disassociate the actor from the character. Maybe Quinto should publish a book called I Am Not Sylar to help things along (a bad attempt at Trekie humor). Still, we can warm up to Spock.
I’m already looking for a good excuse to go back and see Star Trek again, but the truth is that you don’t need a good reason to see the movie. Just go see it! However you feel about Star Trek, you’ll enjoy it!