So, I've something to tell you all; something not even some of my closest friends are aware of...I'm a MASSIVE Star Trek fan. I've seen pretty much every episode of Star Trek ever made, I've seen every film made (even the one where Kirk fights God!), and I could have a debate with any other Trekkie about who is the best captain (Janeway, naturally). However, in recent years, Star Trek was a franchise on its knees. Since the end of Enterprise in 2005, there was no Star Trek series on TV for the first time in 18 years and the last film, Nemesis, effectively signalled the end of the line for the Next Generation crew. What was to be done? Well step in Lost, Alias and Mission Impossible man J J Abrams to breathe life into the once great franchise. To paraphrase Spock: "It's Star Trek Jim, but not as we know it."
After the death of his father aboard the USS Kelvin, James T Kirk (Chris Pine) runs wild in his directionless life. Meanwhile, on Vulcan, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is ostracised due to his mixed Vulcan-human parentage. Both are headed for the USS Enterprise, both there is only room for one in the captain's chair.
Reinventing Star Trek was never going to be an easy job for J J Abrams and his team, as there was almost forty years of canon behind them. However, from the first frames of the new film, the Star Trek timeline has been completely torn apart, due to the premature death of George Kirk, James Kirk's father. Some fans have complained that this isn't `real' Star Trek, but it gives the writers the opportunity to completely reinvent the franchise, both in this film and the inevitable sequels. This is an opportunity which Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman seize with both hands, with a major re-writing of the Trek universe occurring. All bets are off from this point onwards, which is what Star Trek needed, after having picky fans moaning for years that x couldn't have happened, as y had happened earlier, but this also affected z. Let the reinvention begin.
Despite this reinvention, the focus stays on the relationship between Kirk, the passionate human, and Spock, the logical Vulcan. Chris Pine is good as the cocky, self-assured, skirt-chasing Kirk. Although he doesn't have the same bizarre speech pattern as Shatner, when the words come from his mouth, you believe that he is James T Kirk. The way he holds him self is similar too, especially in a moment where he sits in the captain's chair with his fist under his chin, which is completely reminiscent of Shatner's Kirk. The superb performance though comes from Zachery Qunito as Spock. Not only does he have the advantage of already looking like Leonard Nemoy, there is a real belief that beneath the Vulcan exterior, there is a battle raging between the human and Vulcan aspects of his personality.
The rest of the cast put in strong performances as well. Zoe Saldana's Uhura finally has a story arc that Nichelle Nichols would have killed for, Simon Pegg's Scotty and Anton Yelchin's Chevok provide the comic relief, and John Cho's Sulu getting to take part in a pretty tense sword fight. The highlight amongst the supporting cast though is Karl Urban, as Leonard `Bones' McCoy, who has mastered the mannerisms of the grumpy ship's doctor to perfection. More of him in the eventual sequel would be more than welcome.
Abrams has also succeeded in doing something no previous Trek did - Star Trek is now sexy. The original crew we ancient by the time they started making films, and by the time they made Nemesis, the Next Generation crew had too many wrinkles and expanding waistlines. In this film, the hem lines of the skirts are that little big higher, Kirk is caught in bed with a green alien, and the USS Enterprise is very much suited to the iPod generation. The film is also quick paced and action packed, with some fantastic special effects.
Set expectations to stunning - thanks to J J Abrams, Star Trek will live long and prosper. Oh, and it made me cry...twice