- Directed by J.J. Abrams
- Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
- Chris Pine (James T. Kirk).
- Zachary Quinto (Spock).
- Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime).
- Eric Bana (Nero).
- Bruce Greenwood (Capt. Christopher Pike).
- Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy).
- Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura).
- Simon Pegg (Scotty).
- John Cho (Hikaru Sulu).
- Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov).
- Ben Cross (Sarek).
- Rachel Nichols (Gaila).
- Faran Tahir (Captain Robau).
- Released: May 8, 2009.
- Image Gallery
- Trailers, clips, and video
A Bold New Enterprise
With Star Trek, the new prequel to the classic series of the same name, producer/director J.J. Abrams managed to have it both ways.
On the one hand, he has carefully reconstructed the heart and soul of the original series, bring fans home to a franchise that has spent the last forty years drifting in other directions. Star Trek is filled with moments that stir warm feelings of recognition in a fan's heart, and these notes are used in the service of reintroducing characters that haven't been this fresh and new since 1966.
But then Abrams starts to push this world -- the long-established world of Kirk and Spock and the Federation and all that -- in unexpected directions. The non-fan just sits back enjoying a very cool ride on a sci-fi plot with a great mix of action and dynamic characters feeling each other out in the heat of a crisis. But the fan? The fan, with each plot twist, realizes to his surprise that he's losing more and more of that comforting, yet constricting, sense of knowing how things are going to turn out. By midway through the film, the fan and the newcomer are both roaring through a whole new Star Trek universe that Abrams has created for us.
This is a science fiction film where, for once, outstanding special effects are harnessed in the service of plot and characterization, not in place of them. Star Trek looks great, and almost everything that's up on the screen is there to realize and support the script and the actors. The writing is crisp and avoids the overbaked sentiments and hoary cliches of most summer action films.
But what really stands out is the direction, because it so obviously shapes the characterizations of these characters we think we know. Chris Pine, a relative unknown called upon to embody one of the most famous characters in American culture, brilliantly exceeds expectations. Abrams and Pine have divined the core of Kirk's being -- a cockiness rooted in smarts, guts, and charisma -- and Pine floods the screen with it, easily holding the center of every scene and earning all over again Kirk's status as a hero.
Zachary Quinto has a different task. Quinto is called upon not to recreate Spock but to subtly remold him. The Spock we see here is to some extent unmoored by the events unfolding in the film, and Abrams and Quinto deftly provide us with a Spock who is our Spock, yet also a man whose center has been shifted by that which neither he, nor we, saw coming. The only concern one might have in terms of Spock is that there is more reaction to his withdrawal into logic than examples of it: this movie is open to the nonfan and makes very few assumptions, but in this sense common knowledge of Spock's struggle with emotion allows the movie to use a little shorthand.
A Franchise Reborn
Though this is Quinto and Pine's movie, mention must be made of Zoe Saldana's radiant Uhura, Anton Yelchin's boyishly enthusiastic Chekov, and Bruce Greenwood's movie-anchoring performance as Captain Christopher Pike. And we cannot forget our old friend Leonard Nimoy, who bookends Spock's life and provides a link to half a century of Trek.
Star Trek, most of all, is a lot of fun, infused with a positive sense of excitement about being out there on the final frontier that's increasingly rare in CGI-laden blockbusters. Kirk and his young crew are jazzed about exploring the galaxy, and that enthusiasm is catchy. Not only am I going back to see it again, but for the first time in a long time, I'm actually looking forward to a sequel.