New Trek tale is finally a treat for all

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New Trek tale is finally a treat for all

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The younger generation, left to right: Chekhov (Anton Yelchin), Kirk (Chris Pine), Scotty (Simon Pegg), McCoy (Karl Urban) and Sulu (John Cho).[CineSeoul]

When I heard years ago that plans were moving forward for a new “Star Trek” film, I was thrilled by default - thanks to years of childhood conditioning. But when the news emerged that J.J. Abrams would be directing a prequel about the original series cast, I was skeptical. The last Trek incarnation, “Enterprise,” was also a prequel, and it was, to be blunt, atrocious, while Abrams’ only previous film work - “Mission Impossible 3” - was uninspired.

But as Spock would say, I should have had faith that the universe would unfold as it should. “Star Trek” is a tale of sacrifice, revenge and friendship that not only resurrects my affection for the franchise, it’ll have appeal even for the moviegoer who does not own a complete set of replica Klingon blood wine goblets (as I do).

The good incarnations of Star Trek fall along a spectrum. At one end is the delicate sci-fi intellectualism that characterized most of “The Next Generation” - Captain Picard stranded on a planet learning to communicate with an alien captain who speaks only in metaphor and allusion - while at the other lies the escapist action-melodrama of most of the original series of movies, epitomized by the submarine-style duel in space between William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban in “The Wrath of Khan.”

But attempts to bring the former to the big screen have fizzled, and almost killed the franchise once and for all.

So thank the Prophets, Abrams has kicked the space opera spirit into extreme overdrive for his franchise restart. There are slight spoilers ahead, so skip the next paragraph if you’d like to be surprised.

We open on James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) as the orphaned, troublemaker son of a Starfleet hero. After a bar brawl, Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), about to take command of the new U.S.S. Enterprise, goads Kirk into enlisting. Spock (played with pitch-perfect subtlety by Zachary Quinto) immediately dislikes the young upstart, who beats a certain unbeatable command test - but the two have to set aside their differences when the time traveler who killed Kirk’s father returns, intending to destroy the Federation.

Yes, this is a time travel story, but for once it gets the science exactly right (well, almost). And it’s worth it to bring Leonard Nimoy back, having much more fun returning to his role than a Vulcan is supposed to. The old Spock does not hobble up on his walker and hand off the baton to the new crew - he’s in many ways the trigger for the entire film, which should please fans.

Pine and Quinto are appealing anchors for a delightful ensemble. Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy even inject some natural laughs into the action.

There are countless references fans will love: the Vulcan education pods (“Star Trek IV”), truth serum-excreting creepy crawlies (“Star Trek II”) a redshirt charging to his death and even a fencing Sulu. But the effects are more visceral and threatening than ever before; Abrams goes far beyond actors throwing themselves around a cardboard set.

For the first time in years, Trek has put entertaining the public before playing it safe to please the fans, and in doing so may even make both happy. So to this gritty new Star Trek, I say: Live long and prosper.

Star Trek

Science fiction / English

126 min.

Now playing


By Ben Applegate [bapplegate@gmail.com]
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