I have never been able to get into Star Trek. With its legions of devoted fans, and 50 years of lore, I have always felt a little intimidated by the series and its multiple spin-offs. So I was glad when the 2009 film allowed both newcomers and hard core fans to enjoy it. Set in a parallel universe to the original series, Star Trek explores the origins of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, This Means War, Unstoppable), Spock (Zachary Quinto, Heroes) and the rest of the Enterprise crew. We see them meet for the first time, before being threatened by the mysterious Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana, Hulk, Black Hawk Down), the same man responsible for the death of Kirk’s father (Chris Hemsworth, Thor, The Cabin in the Woods).
Setting the franchise in an alternate universe is a masterstroke by the director, J.J. Abrams, allowing him to take it in a completely new direction, at the same time remaining faithful to the original fans. This means that we can see the first encounters of the characters, with all of the principal characters being recast with more youthful actors. This is near-perfect when it comes to Kirk and Spock, who’s personalities are so contrasting. One is a roguish daredevil who is encouraged to enlist in Starfleet, the other a reasoned, logical scientist who struggles to contain his emotions. Both Pine and Quinto transfer this splendidly on screen, with the two forming a begrudging alliance to overcome the threat. Some of the other principal cast are good in their roles as well. Most notably, they are Zoe Saldana (Avatar, The Losers) as the headstrong linguist Uhura, and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) providing the comic relief as engineer, Scotty.
However, unfortunately this means that some of the other characters are neglected. The audience are introduced to Sulu (John Cho, Harold and Kumar) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, Terminator Salvation), but they are never developed, just simply there. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban, Dredd) fares a little better, but not by much. And Bana’s Nero was quite weak, but this was probably because Abrams opted to focus more on Kirk’s and Spock’s relationship, rather than the villain.
Visually, Star Trek is stunning. The deep space battles are a joy to watch, with an amount of lasers and spaceships comparable to Star Wars. But one technique that I found distracting was the over-use of lens flares. It’s good a couple of times, but eventually it gets distracting and off-putting.
Star Trek has taught me two things. First, that Abrams can successfully restore sci-fi series’ from the brink, so I have complete faith in him for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Secondly, it lays the groundwork for sequels of endless potential. May this series live long and prosper.