Star Trek

Science Fiction

I never was a Trekkie (or a Trekker), but I enjoyed the original show for some years, and became a big fan of The Next Generation and some of the first movies (especially II, III, and IV–which I always thought of as a trilogy). That put me in a good place to enjoy the new Star Trek, which gives you a chance to re-acquaint yourself with the old characters, fresh out of the Academy, as performed by newer, younger actors.

The movie has a lot of fun with the well-loved characters, and that’s its main attraction. Director J.J. Abrams did a great job of casting, finding actors who not only look reasonably close to younger versions of Shatner, Nimoy, and so on, but can play younger versions. As James T. (not-yet captain) Kirk, Chris Pine turns William Shatner’s swagger and sex drive up a couple of notches, which is appropriate for a cadet barely out of a prolonged adolescence. And casting comic Simon (Hot Fuzz) Pegg as Scotty was brilliant.

The only characters that don’t seem like younger versions of the previous characters are Chekov and Uhura–not coincidentally the most underwritten from the original. Anton Yelchin overdoes the comic Russian accent even more than Walter Koenig; it’s funny at first but grows tiresome. On the other hand, Zoe Saldana turns Uhura into a real person; it’s about time someone did.

Unfortunately, you can’t make a Star Trek movie that’s just about character. And while the show once also meant humanistic values and social commentary, these days apparently it’s about action. And as an action movie, Star Trek is routine and uninteresting.