Star Trek breathes new life into a classic world

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Even to the most die-hard fans, it seemed like the days of Star Trek had come and gone. We’d gotten quite a bit out of it – a franchise spanning multiple generations of space heroes and nearly twenty years of our lives is quite a legacy. But even so, it seemed like everything was winding down.

Then a trailer started showing up in theaters. All it showed was someone welding – and then it panned up, and you saw a disk adorned with the letters USS ENTERPRISE.

Over time, we learned more about the movie. We heard who was being cast as who, and we all made our assumptions about it. There were those of us who said that there was no way the movie could be as good as the originals.

I’ll admit I was among them. I’ve seen more than my fair share of box office disasters, and trying to remake something as classic and timeless as Star Trek could only end in failure, right? How, after all, could someone even think to touch what had become the holy grail of sci-fi?

But box office disaster or no, I was enough of a “Trekkie” to see the movie regardless. And once I walked out of that theater, my expectations had not only been blown out of the water, but had probably achieved orbit somewhere around half an hour into the movie.

In a bold but logical move, the movie takes place in a sort of alternate timeline. The villain, a Romulan called Nero, inadvertently travels back in time after being dragged into a black hole and interferes with the events surrounding James T. Kirk’s birth. The famous captain’s father is killed fighting off Nero’s ship to give the crew time to escape.

In Nero’s timeline his home planet Romulus was destroyed when the sun went supernova.

A Federation ambassador had been dispatched with a substance known as red matter, intending to use it to collapse the exploding sun into a black hole before it had a chance to reach the planet.

He failed, however, and Nero is hell-bent on not only saving his planet, but revenge. Nero is using the captured red matter to destroy Federation planets, trying to dissolve the alliance so Romulans can prosper.

The “alternate timeline” scenario, however contrived it seems on the surface, ends up being for the best. It allows the writers to do whatever they want, without having to worry too much about continuity or remaining faithful to the original material. They do, however, pay tribute in their own right – but to find out how, you’ll have to see the movie, since it’s a twist that I’m not going to spoil.

As far as the casting goes, I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect group of actors to play the young Enterprise crew. Watching the movie, you can easily see how all of them could grow into the legends we know they will become. Simon Pegg in particular made an excellent Scotty, and you couldn’t pick out a better Spock than Zachary Quinto – except maybe Leonard Nimoy.

They each pay homage to their character in their own way, from McCoy’s famous, “Dammit, I’m a doctor” rhetoric to Chekov’s thick accent to Sulu’s prowess in fencing. They pay the ultimate tribute with Spock’s character, but that is, again, something I’m not going to ruin.

To be honest, I was having a hard time finding things to dislike about this movie. I’ve since heard people’s grievances about it, such as there being a huge amount of useless lights on the bridge of the Enterprise, but nothing like that really bothered me.

There were things I did take issue with, however – one being Ohura’s character. I liked that they found a way to get her out of the background and into the story. But doing that by making her a sex icon seemed wrong.

Also, while I enjoyed Quinto’s Spock, I do think the writing was trying too hard to humanize him. Spock was always supposed to be cool, collected, and even slightly distant – a bastion of logic amidst the storm of human emotion. He always had the internal conflict due to his half-human heritage, but it wasn’t something that often played out, which made the character so precious.

Maybe the events of the movie simply took him in a different direction than the Spock we know, but even allowing for that he still felt too human.

I also think they went slightly overboard with the action surrounding James T. Kirk – I counted, and he hangs from at least five ledges in this movie, the first one being when he’s roughly eight-years-old, all the way up to hanging off the same ledge twice within five minutes.

If anything, I think they were just using the opportunity to both acknowledge and poke fun at William Shatner’s tendency to play up the “action hero” aspect of James T. Kirk.

All in all, if you’re a Star Trek fan like me, this movie is going to be the best thing to happen to you in months. Even with the changes and little differences to nitpick about, the movie was fantastic. And even if you’re not, the movie is immensely enjoyable as simple science fiction. So if you like sci-fi, and especially if you’re a Trekkie, you need to do yourself a favor and see this movie.