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Star Trek movie poster

Star Trek

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg,
John Cho, Bruce Greenwood
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: Louder and faster than "Star Trek" fans might be used to, but a highly entertaining ride nonetheless.
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Beam Me Up, J.J.

Summer's First Blockbuster Zooms into Theaters

In all its various guises, Star Trek has rarely been a franchise prone to bombastic excess. A soothingly optimistic vision of our future shown through a lens of liberal intellectualism, it consistently emphasized the value of diplomacy and science over righteous aggression.  So maybe it's appropriate that the concept be given a cinematic facelift to coincide with a freshly seated democratic president and "hope" becoming a cultural buzz-word, but this also makes Star Trek a potentially awkward fit for a summer blockbuster. However, director J.J. Abrams seems to have found an impressively simple solution to this. Basically ignore the cultural significance and make a bombastic, blockbuster Star Trek movie.

From the word "go," Abrams' version is an propulsive, frenetic ride that targets the trigger happy ten-year-old boy portion of the human brain with pinpoint accuracy. In fact, for the first 30 or so minutes, character development is achieved almost exclusively through action sequences, included young Kirk on a reckless joyride and young Spock getting into a classroom brawl. Suddenly they're young men enrolling at Star Fleet academy, and quickly find themselves onboard the USS Enterprise facing off against a vengeful Romulan captain with the power to destroy planets. You certainly can't claim the film wastes its running time.

Chris Pine and  Zachary Quinto in Star Trek A battle scene on USS Enterprise in Star Trek

This break-neck pace isn’t without its drawbacks though. There's an occasionally sloppy, first-draft quality to Star Trek's plotting, which only gets more noticeable once time-travel starts playing a part in the story. Only a few of the iconic characters get enough screen time to make a significant impression this time around, but luckily they make them stick. Chris Pine's Kirk is a swaggering, reckless hothead perfectly suited to Abrams style and pacing, and Zachary Quinto makes for a naturalistic but iconic Spock without resorting to a Leonard Nimoy impersonation. Karl Urban and Eric Bana also make strong impressions as Bones and the villainous Captain Nero.

Like most summer movies, however, the film’s hardest working assets are its visual and audio effects. But Star Trek’s flash-bang is also crafted with obvious attention to detail, and the end result is satisfying and immersive. So satisfying in fact, that even the most nitpicky viewers are likely to overlook its narrative shortcomings and embrace its kinetic escapism. Even if some trekkies might inevitably debate how faithful the film is to its source material, it's still the first great flick of the summer for everyone else.

Reviewed by Matt Kane



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