Bold Journey

Not only does the new 'Star Trek' do justice to the franchise; it's the best film in the series

Trekkies ... you can exhale now.

Director J.J. Abrams has pulled off a modern movie miracle with his reboot of the Star Trek franchise. He manages to retain the vibe of the beloved TV and film series while creating something altogether different, fresh and irresistibly entertaining. This is the best Star Trek film I've seen, and that includes Wrath of Khan and the humpback-whale movie. It's that good.

Star Trek begins with an intense battle sequence that includes the birth of a baby James T. Kirk, and only gets better from there. This movie has no lags, no dry spells, no real flaws. It might be part of a well-known franchise, but it's also an extremely competent stand-alone science-fiction epic.

At some time in the future Trek universe, a well-meaning Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) is given a major reason to become unfathomably angry. It's no secret that Leonard Nimoy has returned as Spock for this installment, so it's safe to tell you that an older Spock is part of the reason that Nero has become a vengeful monster. Through some nifty time-traveling tricks, Nero will wind up facing off against a younger incarnation of Spock (Zachary Quinto) and his new cadet friend, Kirk (Chris Pine).

Somewhere in time before Nero's temper-tantrum, young Kirk is rabblerousing in Iowa bars and not so sure what to do with his life. He happens upon Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who knew his heroic dad and advises the young Kirk to enlist in Starfleet.

Kirk, with nothing else better to do, obliges and meets up with his now-iconic friends soon thereafter. It should be said that the performances by every actor in these familiar roles are all first-rate. Karl Urban goes full-on DeForest Kelley in his portrayal of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and every time he says, "Dammit, Jim!" it is a blessed gift to Trek fans. John Cho creates a different kind of Sulu, making the character his own within this film's universe without disgracing George Takei.

Anton Yelchin has fun murdering the English language with that patented Chekov accent, and gets some good laughs out of an old joke. Simon Pegg proves to be the perfect choice to replace James Doohan as Scotty the engineer. Pegg's role here is relatively small (he shows up late in film), but he makes the most of his scenes. Thankfully, he does get to scream Scotty's most famous line of dialogue during a space battle.

The movie would be nothing if it messed up the casting of Kirk and the younger Spock, but never fear; Pine and Quinto jump into the roles with remarkable authority. They make a few nods to their predecessors (Quinto actually shares a mind-bending scene with Nimoy), but these are not copycat performances. Pine makes one obvious nod to William Shatner near the film's end that provides the movie's best laugh.

Nimoy looks like he's truly enjoying the role of Spock for the first time since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. One gets the sense that he knows he's part of something special. While Shatner didn't get a chance to attend the party, Abrams and crew could have the Shat back in his infamous seat in a future installment. As for Bana, he rocks his role to the core and is easily the best Trek villain since Ricardo Montalban's Khan.

Abrams has messed with the Trek universe a bit, and the way he does it is nothing short of brilliant. For those of you who have always loved all things Trek, this movie should make you more than happy. For those of you who think Spock is lame, give this series another chance. There might be movies that make more money this summer, but they will be hard-pressed to be as entertaining as Star Trek.

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