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Star Trek Out of This World

When I heard that director J.J. Abrams was going to make Star Trek appeasing to the mainstream movie-going audience, I’ll admit that I was worried. All I could picture was scantily-clad female aliens, or cheesy, complex love triangles dominating the storyline.

imageTo my immense pleasure, not only did Abrams steer clear of the traditional mainstream vehicles, but he made the Star Trek genre into something cool, something that everyone – nerds and non-nerds alike – can revel in. On the movie’s opening night, the theatres were packed. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of costumes, though: my girlfriend wore her communicator pin, and we noticed a wayward Klingon surveying the concession stand. But despite the lack of physical nerd attire, you could feel the excitement in the atmosphere. It’s been years since Enterprise was taken out of its misery, and Star Trek fans have been chomping at the bit. I’m sure every person in that theatre, starving for Vulcans, Klingons, and intellectual banter, felt the goosebumps at the opening sequence.

You get sucked into the Star Trek lore almost immediately. Within minutes, we’re completely immersed in the back story of Kirk, Spock and Bones, and it’s scintillating. One can almost forget the campy William Shatner when Chris Pine appears on screen. Besides being completely believable (appearance-wise) as a younger Kirk, he has that smarmy charm/cockiness down cold.

Same goes for Zachary Quinto (Sylar from TV’s Heroes); even though nobody on Earth could ever replace Leonard Nimoy as Spock, Quinto plays the part so well we forget his evil TV counterpart. Karl Urban plays Bones, and we’re not sure if he’s a genetic clone or what, but he nails it, too. And that’s the best part of the film – the seamless casting allows us to believe what’s going on on-screen – since no energy is wasted on picking apart why this actor sucks, or why that dialogue is terrible, we’re allowed to just focus on the plot.

Sure, there’s a lot of time travel that may leave you scratching your head, but that’s par for the course with Star Trek. Abrams manages to include all the necessary sci-fi conventions like space battles and otherworldly creatures while including his own personal touches: depth of character, excitement, and breathtaking special effects. Little rewards are rampant in the movie: Winona Ryder plays Spock’s mother (arguably her best role in years), there’s a guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy (and NOT Shatner), and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s late wife reprises her voice role as the Enterprise’s computer.

Certain quotes from the original series (‘Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not an engineer!’, for example) are repeated, but cheers and laughter erupt from the audience instead of groans. Abrams pays homage to the classic series without mocking it, and in doing so, revives the franchise for a modern audience. For the first time in a long time, I actually left the theatre wanting to see the movie again.

There are at least two sequels planned, and I can’t wait. Beam me up!

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