New voyages for old Enterprise -- 'Trek' hopes to live long and prosper

By Albert Park

Contributor

The good news: The newest "Star Trek" film is at once a clean slate for newcomers to the United Federation of Planets, and a fresh reboot to the original TV series for long-time trekkies and trekkers.

The bad news: There are no Klingons. Not one.

Now, if diehard fans will forgive this oversight and a few apocryphal plot elements, they might find that the film revitalizes an otherwise atrophying Hollywood property with new blood and vigor.

The story action hits the ground running. A warp speed-paced introductory scene leads up to George Kirk, amid catastrophe, evacuating his ship and sacrificing himself to save his crew, pregnant wife and unborn son. With an operatic soundtrack looming, a dramatic crescendo builds to introduce the birth of a cultural icon, James Tiberius Kirk.

The ensemble cast of well-established characters toes the line between homage and update. Chris Pine's SoCal take on Captain Kirk might be a few shades more Seacrest than Shatner, but leather jacket-clad, he earnestly attempts to be a bad boy, a contemporary James Dean. Zoe Saldana's portrayal of Nyota Uhuru is a hot and sassy modernization to the role laid down by pioneer Nichelle Nichols. Zachary Quinto's reinterpretation of Spock is nuanced, adding pathos to a traditionally stoic character-never were the words "live long and prosper" delivered with such vitriol as in one particular scene.

Mastermind behind hit TV show "Lost," J.J. Abrams, is no stranger to pushing the bounds of time and space via the art of cinematic narrative. His is a slick and glossy rendition of "Star Trek," though firmly rooted in the original series (for example, legacy sound effects are used throughout ship scenes). The sets of the Enterprise are noticeably more spacious, brighter and sleeker. Mainstay story elements are cleverly utilized in novel ways. Warp speed SFX serves as a jump cut film-editing device, and a Vulcan mind-meld sequence lays down narrative exposition.

Watch with an open mind and have fun. Do what Spock suggests in the film, "Put logic aside. Do what feels right." For it is evident that the filmmakers desire to meet the expectations of newbies and fans alike, and allow this beloved science fiction franchise to live long and prosper.

'Star Trek'

Rated PG-13

Grade: A

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