By Robert W. Butler
McClatchy Newspapers
As rousing as a Klingon war chant and more fun than an engine room full of tribbles, “Star Trek” successfully reboots the venerable franchise. It will please diehard fans and suck in newbies like a black hole.
This happy romp from director J.J. Abrams takes us back to the youths of Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones, Scotty and all the rest. While the film’s central crisis isn’t exactly novel – aliens threaten to blow up Earth – the execution, acting and energy are on warp drive.
In the film’s prologue, a gigantic, bizarrely constructed alien ship (it looks like the squid in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) is attacking a much smaller Starfleet vessel. The acting commander of the besieged ship is able to jettison his pregnant wife on an escape pod, and t he last thing he hears on the com before the ship explodes is the wail of his newborn son.
That kid will grow up to be James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), a car-stealing, hard-drinking, authority-defying ne’er-do-well. After getting into a lopsided bar fight with a bunch of Starfleet cadets, Kirk is challenged by a seasoned starship captain (Bruce Greenwood) to enroll at the academy and channel his aggressions into something useful.
He is quickly surrounded by hard-working, rule-obeying folk like physician Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), the gorgeous but tough Uhura (Zoe Saldana), weapons expert Sulu (John Cho) and whiz-kid Chekov (Anton Yelchin).
Kirk also discovers a nemesis in Spock (Zachary Quinto), the emotionless half-Vulcan who applies rational thought to every situation and finds Kirk’s shoot-from-the-hip spontaneity “illogical.”
The arrival of the same alien ship we saw in the prologue demands that the cadets cut short their training and report for active duty on the Enterprise. The bad guys are Romulans, and their chief, Nero (a nicely intense Eric Bana, almost unrecognizable beneath bald pate andtattoos ), announces he’s out to avenge the destruction of his planet .
But this “Star Trek” is supposed to be a prequel, and the Romulans don’t show up until later in the saga, so what the ..?
Well, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s screenplay has a time-travel element. Nero’s Romulans are visitors from the future, and, “Terminator”-style, they’re trying to head off doomsday by zipping backward in time to eliminate their enemy before he can do damage decades in the future.
The young performers, cannily selected to look and act like the original “Star Trek ” players, are so spot-on that you get a warm fuzzy glow just watching them.
You may have seen Pine in “The Princess Diaries 2” or maybe even in “Bottle Shock.” But as Kirk, he perfectly captures the cocky, swashbuckling confidence that marked William Shatner’s performance . Quinto is a dead ringer for a young Leonard Nimoy, although he lacks the deep, resonant voice of that actor (maybe his Spock will find those bass notes as he matures?).
Urban, who mostly had been seen armored up on horseback in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, is a pure delight as the irritable but loyal McCoy. Expect the audience to erupt in cheers when he fumes at Spock, “Dammit, I’m a doctor, not a physicist!”
Late in the film we discover Simon Pegg’s Scotty stranded on a frozen planet; he comes aboard the Enterprise and quickly shows the kids how to use a transporter. Pegg has the appropriate brogue but plays the character more for laughs than James Doohan did. But that’s OK.
One complaint: This “Trek,” like the original series, is a bit heavy on the testosterone. Saldana’s Uhura is the only strong woman character, and even she isn’t given much to do. She does have a torrid affair that will knock the hardcore fans back on their heels. It’s one of several key rewrites of the franchise’s mythology that keep us guessing.
The less-than-original story elements and convoluted plotting keep it from being a really great movie. Some of it is pretty confusing. Maybe even illogical.
Nevertheless, “Star Trek” isa pretty great time at the movies, an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with characters who are part of the collective consciousness.
Oddly enough for a franchise that stretches back 40 years, “Star Trek” makes us feel as if we’re just at the beginning.
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STAR TREK
3 stars
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, ZacharyQuinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content
Running time: 2:06

STAR TREK
3 stars
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, ZacharyQuinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content
Running time: 2:06


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