“Parallel universe or alternative reality is a self-contained separate reality coexisting with one’s own.” – Wikipedia
Rebooting a franchise is difficult, especially one with such a history and fandom as the Star Trek fandom. One needs a thick skin and a love for the franchise and the fandom. J. J. Abrams has definitely proven that love and care over the course of two hours that is the new Star Trek, which manages to start a completely new thread of story telling that old fans know nothing about without screwing up what they already know (already no small feat) while still paying a faithful homage to the original (perhaps an even larger feat). All the while, Abrams creates a fun and entertaining movie that is easily accessible and doesn’t require intense experience of the franchise to understand or enjoy (probably the largest feat overall).
Besides, it’s not the first time the franchise has played with alternate realities. Mirror universe, anyone?
Abrams and his writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman manage to create fun-filled and entertaining ride while simultaneously remaining unshackled by and utilizing the original Star Trek canon. The story is eventful and action-packed, but it has meaning aside from being a simple summer blockbuster. Indeed, the Federation and the galazy are in danger again, and it’s up to Kirk and crew to save it both once more and for the first time.
Is this confusing anyone? Time travel tends to do that. Don’t think about it too hard and enjoy the movie.
Back to Kirk and crew, you’ll find many of the actors doing their roles incredible justice. The three that particularly come to mind are Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov). You’ll almost have a hard time believing they aren’t the incarnations of the late Deforest Kelly and James Doohan and the thankfully still-with-us Walter Koening while they are also able to stand independent of their seniors in their roles. Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame does a great job of Spock as well, made all the more intriguing with Leonard Nemoy actually Spock as well, giving two different takes on the same character that both fit incredible well. Chris Pine does a good job capturing the essence of Kirk, as does Zoe Saldana with Uhura, but they don’t seem to adapt their senior actor’s performances as much as they make the parts their own. It does not detract from the movie or their roles, however, as they perform just as well as everyone and make their parts believable (some heavy-handed romance not withstanding).
With the villain of the movie, Nero (played by Eric Bana), his actions and mannerisms seem befitting someone with his situation and experience. He is not a great military tacticion, instead acting out of emotion. This brings a slightly-more unbridled fury not typically seen in major Star Trek villains that tend to be more cold and calculating. This does not seem out of sync with the franchise though as his origin and methodology fits in quite well. It is a turn to the more action orientation this film has over some previous films. However, Nero’s rage and the subsequent battles that stem from it are very fitting.
And of course, one cannot forget the most important member of the franchise: the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise. She’s pretty. Very pretty. There’s a lot of nice shots of the ship in space, in combat and generally in any sort of action or just being stationed. She seems a faithful redesign of the original. The sets of the interior (and the technology overall) do a good job maintaining something that would look futuristic to us but not too futuristic in the Trek time line. Be warned though for those with intimate Trek ship design knowledge, I can’t speak to the sets staying to scale inside the ship there they would actually fit, although talking with friends tell me that might be just as on par with the original series as most everything else.
Now in full disclosure, I consider myself a Star Trek fan. I’m not to the caliber of many people I know, especially not with an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise or the technical data of every ship. Aside from Enterprise though, I have seen either a good majority, if not all, of every series and movie ever since I was watching The Next Generation as it aired on television. I used to run around as a little kid with a little TNG Starfleet emblem stuck on my shirt and even made my own cardboard Enterprise-D set for my action figures.
Speaking as a fan of the franchise, I enjoyed this movie and its faithfulness to the characters and the overall story. Speaking as someone who typically enjoys summer blockbusters, this won’t disappoint and does not require heavy Trek experience to understand or enjoy. This summer will be packed with blockbusters from pre-existing franchises, such as Transformers: Rise of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. With any luck, they’ll be just as accessible and entertaining while full of fan service as Star Trek is. I recommend seeing this movie.