‘Trek’-ing out of this world

By Lacey Colby

It is a difficult task to remake a long-standing series according to contemporary standards while remaining faithful to the original material. The filmmakers of the Star Trek reboot had to face the possible alienation of the large fan base devoted to the old plot lines if they chose the more contemporary approach of appealing to audiences’ love of action and excitement.

Fortunately, the film, directed by J.J. Abrams, manages to find a path that most Trekkies and new audiences should be able to enjoy. With the right balance of humor, action, good plot and references to the old Star Trek, there is never a dull moment.

The film follows James Kirk (Chris Pine, Smokin’ Aces) as a young cadet of the United Federation of Planets. A troublemaker who seemingly joins the Federation just to make a point, Kirk has to sneak his way into the U.S.S. Enterprise during its maiden voyage. What should be a rescue mission at the planet Vulcan turns into a fight for the Federation against the insane Romulans who, decades earlier, appeared out of nowhere and attacked a Federation ship in search of Spock.

The two lead actors who aren’t quite famous enough to be household names are a nice change from the trend of most big-budget films, and it works when the actors are so talented. Pine and Zachary Quinto (Heroes) complement each other well. Most of the film’s laughs are owed to Pine, who performs the role of Kirk with amusing arrogance, but anyone looking for fantastic acting is going to enjoy Quinto. He’s great at keeping the calm, almost detached attitude of the half-Vulcan Spock, as well as portraying the inner uncertainties that make him human.

Eric Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife) produces a less-than-satisfying performance as Nero, the leader of the Romulan ship. His silence in his first scene is the only reason he ever manages to look menacing because each time he speaks, Bana fails to be much of a villain at all. The best word to describe this Romulan is tame. Filmmakers haven’t yet seemed to realize that his dull acting style isn’t meant for science-fiction action films.

The film also lacks strong female characters. Only Uhuru (Zoe Saldana, Guess Who) has a decent role in the film, but aside from her linguistic skills, she serves only as a pretty girl in a film dominated by males. Other characters, like the mothers (Jennifer Morrison and Winona Ryder) of Kirk and Spock, make very few appearances in the film, and either of them is ever really involved in fighting the Romulans. Hopefully, there will be a bigger role for a female character in the sequel, and Saldana certainly has the ability to carry it.

Nevertheless, Star Trek is a smart reboot. Despite the implausible characteristics of the black hole, it creates an alternate universe and allows the old material to coexist with it, creating a synthesis of the old material and the new film that allows a new fan base to join the old one. It serves as a good place to start a new canon for Star Trek with the younger characters to match much of the audience it will attract.

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