You don’t have to be old enough to remember William Shatner before he was the Priceline Negotiator to love the new Star Trek cine-blitz. I admit to being twice trekkie – loved the original in reruns, and adored the Jean-Luc Picard “Next Generation” team – loved them to bits! I also loved this movie.
In the new installment – lightyears better than those latex-intensive Lucas flix – the spirit of Kirk and Spock materializes brilliantly in the young, hot-to-the-max form of Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock). Director J.J. Abrams knew enough not to destroy one of the great love/hate affairs of all tv/film – the push-pull between the hot, brash young space captain and the Vulcan genius given existential angst by his human genes. And without sacrificing anything in the way of opulent, futuristic effects — the malevolent Romulan colony is fabulously imagined, and the vintage Starship Enterprise is shown off to nostalgic fare-thee-well — the film keeps its focus tight on the two principals, their backstories and the romp through space as they acquire their mythic sidekicks.
“Dammit Jim — I’m a doctor, not an engineer.” It’s a total hoot to hear the classic McCoy line barked by edgy Karl Urban. Urban, part young DeForest Kelley and part young Jeff Goldblum, has the right restless exasperation that we loved so much in Bones. Sulu and Chekhov are each more delightful – and resourceful – than the other, as played with eerie perfection to the spirits of their originals by John Cho (in the George Takei role) and a priceless Anton Yelchin (Walter Koenig). Ah, but, as Uhura, the leggy, lovely Zoe Saldana is utterly flat. Perhaps this isn’t a problem. Uhura (even the ancestress Nichelle Nichols) was never on deck for her introspective depth. But my heart belongs to the rambunctious Simon Pegg, cast as the young Mr. Scott, and who chews up the gonzo engineering chops of one of my favorite characters in the series, Scotty in the form of the perennially stressed James Doohan.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. All will win you in their own rights, as well as their revival of the crew’s unique chemistry — and the show’s long shadow as an enduring and panoptic American myth. Well worth your time, especially to watch Leonard Nimoy give Spock’s benediction — “Live long and prosper.”