Review: 'Star Trek'

For 'Star Trek' fans a new addition to the franchise that delivers some telling back stories about the young Enterprise crew.

By , Film critic of The Christian Science Monitor

The new "Star Trek" has quite a pedigree. This is a franchise, after all, that spawned five TV series and 10 movies. At a cost of about $140 million to make and $150 million to market, a lot is riding on this Enterprise.

Maybe this is why the filmmakers have jettisoned most of the old fogy Gene Roddenberry tropes and pitched their cybertent with the under-25 set – the Twitter Trekkies. But, mindful of their elders, the director J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias") and his screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, have also reserved pride of place for Leonard Nimoy, whose appearance in this film as the once and future Mr. Spock carries far more screen time than the usual sentimental cameo.

I was grateful to see Nimoy, since, while far from being a Trekkie (or Trekker, as Trekkies prefer to be called), I have a fondness for the original TV series that I don't share for its successors – except, of course, for Nicholas Meyer's great "Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan" movie, with all-time great villain Ricardo Montalban.

Recommended: 'Star Trek': How well do you know the Trek universe?

In keeping with the current penchant for divining the back stories of pop heroes – e.g., "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" – "Star Trek," through a bit of alternate universe trickery that I don't quite understand, delivers up the Enterprise crew in the bloom of their youth. Apparently not much had been done in all those earlier TV shows and movies to fill in the biographical blanks.

So listen up: James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine), we discover, was a hellion Iowan; Spock (Zachary Quinto) had to tame his human side; "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban) is a tippler; Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has a thing for Spock; Chekov (Anton Yelchin) was already a brain at 17; and "Scotty" (Simon Pegg) is very, well, Scottish.

The chief villain is Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan who demonstrates that even in hyperspace bad guys can still be distinguished by their garish tattoos.

The young cast is mostly callow and TV-bland and the special effects don't quite seem worth that hefty price tag, but overall this is a presentable addition to the franchise. I'm also kind of grateful that the filmmakers didn't go all pitch black on us, as is the vogue in pop hero movies. A "dark" "Star Trek" à la "The Dark Knight" would probably seem even campier than the current version. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content.)

See also: How to make a Klingon forehead and other Trekkie news

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