Cinema Thoughts

Why the new Star Trek film works

The new cast of Star Trek

The new Star Trek film manages to to strip away the baggage of the long running franchise and become the kind of film the Star Wars prequels should have been.

I am not a huge Star Trek fan (and don’t really care if they are called Trekkies or Trekkers), but this rebooting of the series deserves a lot of credit by focusing on the characters, maintaining a brisk pace and being a lot of fun.

Directed by J. J. Abrams and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, this is essentially a prequel that explores the early years of the main characters in the Star Trek series.

It explores the back stories of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) and their first proper mission mission aboard the USS Enterprise which sees them deal with a time travelling villain (Eric Bana) from the future.

There is also an appearance from Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock) but I won’t reveal the details of it as a large chunk of the plot hinges on it.

What is striking though, is the way it has been paced as there is little in the way of flabby exposition, which can bog down origin stories like this.

Not only does Abrams move things along at a refreshing clip, but he has also chosen wisely with his young cast.

Pine and Quinto rise very well to the daunting task of playing such iconic characters and the supporting cast (which includes Zoe Saldana as UhuraKarl Urban as BonesSimon Pegg as Scotty and Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov) are equally as good. 

The set pieces are well executed and have the visual effects that you would expect for a summer blockbuster, but the real trick here is that time and attention has been spent on the main characters.

Although William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have been ingrained on pop culture for decades, the leads here manage to breathe new life into these characters and shake off the cobwebs that had plagued the more recent movies.

This is a film that will appeal to long term fans but also a new audience who either weren’t keen on it before or even alive when the TV series and subsequent film franchise began.

Ironically, one of selling points of the film (the return of Nimoy) is perhaps the most unnecessary, as the new cast do a good enough job standing on their own two feet.

Having said that, the writers do find a clever way to work in the ‘old’ Spock and give themselves new possibilities in the future.

Perhaps the best compliment you could pay to JJ Abrams and his team though is that this is what the Star Wars prequels should have been – lean, imaginative and entertaining.

> Official site for the film
> Reviews at Metacritic
> Brush up on Star Trek at Wikipedia and The Guardian