In a word, Star Trek was "Awesometastic," or at least that's what my 16 year old son called it. He has only the vaguest idea of who Kirk and Spock are, and I'm not sure he's ever seen a full classic episode. He loved it, and that shows that J. J. Abrams has a huge success on his hands. This, unlike many past Star Trek films, is not just for the diehard Trekkies who know all the inside jokes. It's an origin story and a prequel, so while there are plenty of fun Easter eggs for the long time fans, it's a film easily accessible to all the new fans that J. J. Abrams just made for the franchise.
I really have to hand it to the writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. While J. J. Abrams admits that he was not a huge fan of Star Trek, they both obviously are. They have honored the history, while coming up with an ingenious solution to how to revitalize Star Trek. Time Travel and paradoxes are traditional for Star Trek, but I just loved how they worked it to show us these characters we've known for so long, and yet tweak things just enough to make it really interesting. I'm sure the fans will have lots to chew on discussing all the differences from the "canon". They also included all those iconic lines that fans want to hear, but they happened in a very natural part of the story, and never felt forced ("Fascinating"). This movie has fast exciting action, but it's all about the characters and that is what made it really entertaining to me.
Focusing on the origin of Kirk and Spock and their relationship -- totally inspired. Both Zachary Quinto and Christopher Pine had tough jobs and big shoes to fill. I have to say I was really impressed with Christopher Pine. He did not do an impression of Shatner, but made Kirk his own capturing the essence of the character.
But the actor who really surprised me was Karl Urban as Bones. He was just great as Dr. McCoy from that very first scene with Kirk. They took all his history, the divorce, his fear of flying, and just gave him a great cantankerous entrance to the story. Loved it! From the limited films I've seen Urban in (LOTR, Bourne, etc.) I just never would have pictured him doing such a good funny Bones. "I may throw up on you!"
Each main character gets a little moment to shine, and Simon Pegg was my husband's favorite as Scotty. "I like this ship. It's exciting!" Eric Bana's evil Nero was good, but not great. But then, who can match Ricardo Montalban as Khan or the Borg.
Three and a half stars. Huge thumbs up! My husband is a big fan. He even has two phaser rifles and an honest to God Klingon desk from the Christies auction. He loved the movie and believe me, he's a harsh critic. For super fans like him, we just looked at each other several times during the film at the little gifts the writers gave us. Captain Pike was the captain of the Enterprise in the original series pilot and features in the episode "The Menagerie" which has Pike in a wheelchair, and Spock as his former first officer. So cool that Pike was in this origin movie, and at the very end, we noted that he was in a wheelchair in the final ceremony. Just tons of cool touches like that, but still lots of exciting action, too. As the writers said in a recent interview:
I think in its simplest form "Star Trek" has been about naval battles, essentially submarine battles in space, so everything was a bit slow, which is great. It is a wonderful staple of Trek because that forced storytellers to come up with amazing ways for the bridge crew to deal with these problems. Star Wars was about World War II dogfights. As a kid, I loved Trek for the characters, but I loved Star Wars for the speed. But there is no reason why those things should be mutually exclusive. Also, at a practical level, if we going to be introducing Star Trek to a new generation of kids, and given what kids are used to now with Star Wars and Transformers and Iron Man and the speed of those movies, it was going to be very hard to bring them back to a slow naval battle. So we thought must be respectful to the naval battle aspect of the franchise, and yet we can bring something else to it.
I'm looking forward to seeing it again to catch even more Easter eggs! Star Trek has always been about hope and optimism in the future. I think the producers lucked out by releasing this movie at the beginning of Obama's first term. It's a time we could use some more hope and optimism, just like the sixties when the series premiered.
Also, the writers have really opened things up for sequels. Star Trek had gotten rather ossified with over 40 years of history. Now, they could even face familiar situations with different outcomes. Javier Bardem as Khan, anyone?
Trivia note -- J. J. Abrams has been friends with actor Greg Grunberg (Heroes) since high school and finds a way to put him in everything he does. Greg is the voice of Kirk's stepdad on the phone early in the film.