Let's get the big question out of the way first, and just come right out and say that Lost mastermind J.J. Abrams' new reimagining of the Star Trek saga is a fine addition to the Enterprise franchise.
The new movie looks great, and plays equally well thanks to a smart script that answers all of the questions created by the seeming holes that come early on in the story in due course, and in a way that should satisfy even the nerdiest of the trekkies out there.
The casting here is also top-notch. Led by Chris Pine (as Captain Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (as Mr. Spock), Abrams has assembled a fine group of young actors who all do an admirable job of making you believe these really are younger versions of the characters we've all come to know through the decades as etched in our memories by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and the rest.
In these performances, you get just enough of the character traits of the originals to recognize them as the same people, but you also get a little something extra. Kirk's eye for the space ladies for example — something the old series always hinted at, but never came right out with — is given just enough of that extra edge by Pine.
The line he uses, for example, trying to pick up space linguist Uhura in a bar ("You must be good with your tongue") is a perfect case in point. Pine's Captain Kirk also ratchets up the impulsive, rebellious side of the character several notches — this is a guy who isn't at all afraid to break rules, and who at times plays as much like James Dean as he does James T. Kirk.
Zachary Quinto — up until now best known for his devilish portrayal of the sociopathic Sylar on TV's Heroes — also does a great job as a slightly more prone to emotion Mr. Spock. Ol' Pointy Ears is even given a surprising romantic interest in Uhura (who is played very sexily by an ultra-hot looking Zoë Saldana).
The rest of the crew also shine, particularly Karl Urban as a much younger, but every bit as bitter and crotchety Dr. Bones McCoy, and Harold and Kumar vet John Cho, who adds a nice ass-kicking dimension to the role of Sulu.
All of these actors fit their roles like a glove, to make up a cast that should be able to stretch this well-worn series for several more years of the sequels which are no doubt sure to follow.
Now as for those holes…
We learn early on that the planet Vulcan has been destroyed and that the survivors do not include Spock's mother (briefly played by Wynona Ryder) — who anyone that followed the series knows was around long after the maiden voyage of the Enterprise. We also learn that the real target of the film's villain — a particularly nasty Romulan named Nero — is intended to be Spock who presumably hasn't even been born yet.
Later on, we learn that Spock is the Enterprise's Captain, and that he and Kirk (who is also fatherless thanks to more of Nero's dastardly hijinx) are not friends, but rather foils. There are lots of similar odd turns no doubt devised by Abrams to screw with the heads of Trekkies everywhere — the fate of original Enterprise Captain Pike not the least among them.
But just when you'd expect the heads of said trekkies to be exploding, all is made clear when Leonard Nimoy turns up as "old Spock" just in time to neatly explain away the discrepancies as being the result of an alternate reality created by time travel (which anyone who follows Lost will recognize as a favorite Abrams plot device).
With the explanations for these and any other untidy questions still to come neatly out of the way, the rest of the movie is pretty much a non-stop, action packed roller coaster of explosions, explosions, and well, explosions. The Enterprise races against the clock to stop the Romulan badasses from destroying Earth the same way they did the planet Vulcan, blowing up virtually everything in its path along the way.
The rest of the crew, including such normally non-aggro types as Uhura and Sulu all get their licks in too, as all hands on deck provide ample support for Kirk and Spock's interstellar ass-whoopin' of the bad guys here. The special effects here are of your typical blow em' up, computer-generated variety. But by this time, the movie has become so much fun that the CGI sameiness is easy to overlook.
Make no mistake, Star Trek is a summertime popcorn action flick, pure and simple. What separates it from most is a fine cast, and a script that gives a new dimension to characters you already thought you knew inside and out.
As impossible as it may seem, and just when you thought that Star Trek had all but run its course, J.J. Abrams has surprisingly breathed new life into what many might have thought a long since dead horse. I expect we'll be seeing a lot more sequels too.
Beam Me Up Scotty, There Is Intelligent Life Here After All.