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The new Star Trek: a worthy successor

Irene and I went to see Star Trek today. It is her birthday (or as she says, “Birthday weekend”), so the movie was her choice. I wanted to see Star Trek, but I didn’t have a lot of faith in this “re-imagining” or “reboot” as it has been called. I left the theatre, however, feeling quite differently than I expected to.

I’m going to try to stay away from spoiler territory here, so you will have to excuse me for being general in some of my comments. What J.J. Abrams and the new actors have accomplished here is actually quite amazing. They have more or less thrown out the entire Star Trek “rule book”, and done so while remaining true to the characters and respectful of the material. I have always thought that one of the key ingredients in the Star Trek phenomenon has always been the relationship between the characters: and with only minor misfires the new actors and the script have allowed that chemistry to develop anew.

Uhura, Scotty, and most especially Kirk are quite different entities in this new Star Trek: but the explanation for the differences is sound and sufficiently convincing. Spock, McCoy, Checkov, and Sulu are the closest to the original characters, but here the challenge was also great: present the same basic characters, but with new actors, and do so without aping what went before. And I think the magic has been achieved.

Was the story deep and awe inspiring? Possibly not, but then the stories in Star Trek have often been somewhat shallow. Likewise, some of the science was rather laughable, but that too is common to all the generations of Star Trek: elements of believability with a ton of far-fetched gibberish. One of the things I was least looking forward to turned out to be just fine, and that is the “conversion” of Star Trek into an action movie. There was sufficient characterization and psychological/cerebral material to make the new emphasis on biff-bop action more acceptable. And really, this is a cast that is young and full of energy: a lot of the “action at a distance” common to the old Trek movies made sense given that Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and the others were well past middle age.

I wanted to go back in and watch the movie again immediately after it ended. I’m looking forward to a sequel, and will be disappointed if one is not made. I think those facts are a testimony to the quality of what has been achieved. This isn’t the old Star Trek, but it is a good story, and there is much here for lovers of the old Star Trek to enjoy.

A side note that I found somewhat interesting. The Enterprise in this Star Trek is the “original” Enterprise: NCC-1701. But it is about three times as large as the first incarnation of the NCC-1701. This is apparent in some of the visuals in the movie: the shuttle bay is huge. Again, there is an acceptable explanation for this (the key MacGuffin in the movie, so I won’t say more…), so I’m willing to accept that things have changed.

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