To know science fiction in the popular culture, you must start with “Star Trek”, continue with “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Through the 80’s there was the fanciful Star Wars, followed by the renewal of Star Trek, which stagnated around 2000.  Battlestar Galactica’s reprise brought a new frakin’ attitude to the genre and now we have come full circle with the reemergence of Star Trek.

 

Star Trek, stands at the top of that list, with Star Wars, for it’s cultural impact.   It does so well that even the non fan of science fiction knows the words “Beam me up, Scotty.”

That brings us to the newly released Star Trek film.  Not only does this franchise reboot bring a classic brand to the big screen, it brings with it the newest golden boy of sci-fi, Director J.J. Abrams who has created several hit shows such as Lost, Fringe and the monster movie Cloverfield.  The magic touch that gets us to tune in every week is not lost on this blockbuster film. 

Star Trek opens with the USS Kelvin (probably a Lost reference, and there are plenty of other subtle references in the movie for the astute Abrams fan) coming under attack by a mysterious evil-looking ship.  The captain is taken hostage and it is up to first officer George Kirk to save his crew.  He does so by sacrificing himself and in doing so saves his wife and just delivered son, James Tiberious.

We flash forward to see a young mischievous Kirk, and a tormented Spock on their respective home worlds.  Flash forward again to the first scene where Kirk is played by Chris Pine and within seconds of his first screen appearance takes over the role.  Sorry, Mr. Shatner!

Spock is equally well cast by Zachary Quinto (Heroes).  His uncanny resemblance to a young Spock is so good that I found myself looking for the flaws in his appearance.  I was actually disappointed when he is on screen with original Spock, Leonard Nemoy (who also reprises his role of Spock) and found none.  Don’t worry, even if it is time travel it’s not that hard to follow.

The rest of the Enterprise crew is assembled in an unlikely manor, but they are all there, Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) whose nickname “Bones” origin is finally revealed.

While a Staple of Star Trek is the long drawn out debate on moral issues set in space that parody current events, this is more of an action flick.  Not to dumb down the cultural satire of classic Trek, but more of a simplified good versus evil story about a maverick captain and his crew.  There’s plenty of philosophical debate: Logic versus emotion, and of course the two cents of the old country doctor. It really is a modern rebirth of the original Trek not a sci-fi fantasy mired in the weight of it’s own continuity. 

Of course when in the situation to negotiate with a terrorist, Captain Kirk doesn’t debate so much as he allows his actions to negotiate for him.

Another key factor in the soon-to-be success of this film is its humor.  While most science fiction takes the air of overly seriousness, the humor in the introduction of each character, admitting the existance already in the mind of the audience, provides for many opportunities for laughter.  Not like the cheesiness of laughing at the old Flash-Gordon seriels but Bruce Willis comparing himself to a can of sardines humor.

What Abrams does, more importantly than anything regarding the story, is that he makes Star Trek enjoyable to the non-nerd.  Much like the popular phenomenon of it’s original run on NBC Star Trek is easily enjoyed by the average moviegoer, not just the hardcore Trekkie. 

Be Sociable, Share!