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IN SHORT: A very good start for the new series. [Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and brief sexual content. 127 minutes]
Welcome to Star Trek Year Zero.
Director J. J. Abrams' reboot and minor retcon of the storied teevee and movie franchise Star Trek will, by the time it is done, formally introduce a rejuvenated Trek to a whole new, and hopefully younger, audience. This film, designed for both the old fan and those ignorant of obsessive behavior, should do well to educate the next generation in said obsessive ways. As for the traditional audience? Everybody sitting around yours Cranky watched the film intently. When all was said and done, they applauded and then headed for the men's room to plot out Star Trek Two: The Next New Movie
Star Trek is as carefully a constructed origin story as you can get. It delicately connects a "new universe" to concepts established by Gene Roddenberry in The Original Series and, given its desire to serve as an "origin" story for audiences old and new, ignores just about everything else written for Roddenberry's series or the Roddenberry/Rick Berman produced movies that followed. So, Let's start at the very beginning:
Space. The FInal Frontier. This is the final voyage of the Federation Starship NCC-0514 Kelvin. It's twelve minute mission, under the leadership of Lt. George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), is not to be destroyed by the time travelling Romulan warbird called Narada, a warship roughly twenty times the size of the Kelvin. Kirk is as concerned by his ship's plight as he is for his pregnant and in-labor wife Winona (Jennifer Morrison), and the 800 members of his doomed crew. Like the best of Starfleet's officers, the young Lieutenant saves the day and his crew, but not without consequences.
The monstrous bad guy will be revealed to be a Romulan called Nero (Eric Bana) who has time-traveled back 25 years in his timeline determined to kill the Vulcan called Spock (that would be Leonard Nimoy of the original Trek, even though Nero was never seen in that series) who Nero believes is responsible for something really nasty that occurs, again, in his future timeline.
In Human terms, it's the old "if you could go back in time to kill Hitler as a baby, would you?" conundrum. That is this Star Trek, in a nutshell. As all fans of good SF writing know, changing the past automatically generates an ever popular gimmick called "alternate reality" thus allowing Abrams and crew to okeep all that has come before in the trek ST:TOS mythos in continuity, while opening up a big ol' blank canvas to go to town on. That "alternate timeline" shtick will also be used to make hard core fans very happy, an hour or so into the film. But while Nero waits for time to catch up with him . . .
Across the galaxy on the planet Vulcan, in what appears to be student learning pods, a young half-breed named Spock -- son of Vulcan's ambassador to Earth, Sarek (Ben Cross), and the human Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder) -- endurs daily taunting by his full blooded classmates. Spock is the best and brightest of his class of students. When a more mature Spock is offered entry into Vulcan's Science Academy, and complemented that "no half-breed could ever have been expected to achieve such," he refuses and heads for Earth to join Starfleet.
Three, George Kirk's baby has grown into an out of control delinquent Jim Kirk (Chris Pine). Jim is content with his life in Iowa. He has no great desire to be a Starfleet hero slash martyr like his father was. Sure, somewhere nearby the Federation is busy building its newest starships and training the men and women cadets with swelled heads who will crew them. Kirk is content to pick bar fights with these Starfleet wannabees -- he usually loses -- and it isn't until he is visited by his father's friend Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Pike tells Kirk that his father helmed a starship "for about 12 minutes," and in that short time saved 800 people, including baby Jim and his mother. Pike, soon to be commissioned as Captain of the Starship Enterprise, dares Kirk to do better. To become a productive adult and complete the four years of Starfleet officer training.
Three years later, Kirk graduates at the top of his Starfleet class, as does the aforementioned Spock (Zachary Quinto). During the course of training Kirk and Spock will become heated rivals even as one befriends medic Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban) and the other hits on a lovely communications officer Nyota Uhura (Zoë Saldana). That's the only first name you'll get, folks. Long time fans already know that Spock's first name is unpronounceable by a human tongue. Not that we're a long time fan or anything . . . The graduates of Starfleet Academy are assigned to one of seven new starships ready for deployment when word comes that a Federation planet has been attacked. Spock and McCoy are assigned to Enterprise. Uhura is not -- trust us, nothing about Uhura is what you're expecting -- Kirk isn't deployed at all. Thanks to some cever pushing and shoving, all will wind up on NCC 1701 Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike. Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman mess with traditional Trek continuity just a wee bit getting the assignments in place and introducing supporting characters such as Sulu (John Cho) and a 17 year old "whiz kid" Pavel Andreievich Chekov (Anton Yelchin). It's all quite fun watching all the pieces fall into place.
The fleet heads for deep space on an emergency mission. Only one ship will survive the journey because of a smart ass cadet who recognizes a trap when he sees it. Gee. Guess who. Regardless, Nero will confront the remaining ship -- Enterprise -- and demand its surrender. He has no knowledge that the Spock he wants dead is second in command of the ship. While Captain Pike shuttles over to stall for time, orders are given to save Enterprise. As conflict builds between newly appointed Captain Spock and the stowaway James T. Kirk -- Trekkies already know "something" will happen to the Captain Pike -- Spock avoids argument by booting Kirk off ship onto an Ice Planet called Delta. There, the final member of the core cast is found. He is engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (Simon Pegg) is -- he's on Delta figuring out how to transport on to a starship moving at warp speed. It's an impossible task for a character who traditionally complains "I canna do it Captain..." and always manages to. There's also one other resident of Delta,but it would be illogical to tell you who it is and spoil the surprise.
If you haven't figured it out by now, we're doing our best to avoid tipping the story or even the slightest changes to Trek canon. Fanboys or Trekkers or Trekkies . . . whatever . . . will catch as catch can and they (including yours Cranky) will have a real good time as treats are tossed out to us. Those who aren't neck deep in mythos will follow this story easily, even as it stretches the limits of imagination to the breaking point there is plenty of action to keep you happy.}
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Star Trek, he would have paid . . .
Lots of things exploded or implode. Bad guys are triumphant until they're not. Good guys beaten to a pulp rise to save the day. Characters from the Future screw up the Present and, well, even if you don't give a darn about any of the details, Star Trek is a damn fine ride. Get the dumpster sized popcorn and settle in
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