“Star Trek”
At Quality 16 and Showcase

Courtesy of Paramount

4 out of 5 stars

The new “Star Trek” movie ain’t the same “Star Trek” your father watched. What used to be chock full of cheesy special effects and hammy acting has become something completely different. The film is an awesome, white-knuckle adventure with action scenes that will leave you breathless and characters who are surprisingly relatable. All in all, this film (though it may be cliché to say) is a rollicking good time.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, “Smokin’ Aces”) is a rebellious, sarcastic loose cannon –- a long way from the wooden William Shatner of yesteryear. Initially content to simply cause trouble, Kirk is challenged by Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood, “I, Robot”) to make something of himself and join the Starfleet.

This challenge leads to Kirk stowing aboard the fabled USS Enterprise during its maiden voyage, where we are introduced to the rest of the classic characters, including the incomparable Spock (Zachary Quinto of TV’s “Heroes”). Spock and Kirk are enemies-turned-friends, and the film presents an engaging conflict between the two: The former is a man of science and logic, while the latter is happy to let his heart do the thinking for him.

The cast has a real chemistry, and every character receives minimal yet sufficient time to showcase his or her role. Unfortunately, with a cast this large it’s hard to fully develop each individual character. But hey, that’s what sequels are for, right?

The film stays true enough to the original television show and its many spin-offs to keep old fans satisfied, but also entertains newcomers who were simply enticed by the compelling trailer. Director J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible III”) balances the interests of these two different audiences by supplying humorous insider references to devotees, while providing new fans with enough action and comedy to keep them hooked.

The only thing that slows down the film is the ho-hum conflict. The crew of the USS Enterprise must confront its archnemesis Captain Nero (Eric Bana, “Munich”) who wants to destroy the ship. More importantly, Nero wants to kill Spock for something he’s done in the future. It’s a rather trifling situation that doesn’t really make sense. The film grinds to a halt whenever it dotes on Nero; it’s far more enjoyable when it focuses on the love/hate relationship between Spock and Kirk or on the interactions between other crew members. The only upside to including Nero in the plot is that it sets up a fantastic cameo for Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock himself. Otherwise, the conflict between Nero and Spock is simply an excuse to showcase the fantastic effects and action sequences.

But these action sequences are something else. One standout scene in which Kirk and Sulu (John Cho, “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”) battle the evil Romulan Helmsman (newcomer Jason Brooks) aboard a flying drill contains fantastic fight choreography. There’s more excitement in these few moments than in a typical full-length action thriller. This is the standard to which the original “Star Trek” should have aspired. The special effects are top-notch and the action is absolutely exhilarating. This is definitely a film to check out on the big screen where these moments can really be appreciated.

Much the film’s audience may know nothing about it the original TV series, and some were born long after the original show aired. Although loyalists (or “Trekkies,” if that name is acceptable to be used once again) may cry foul, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Star Trek” could (and most surely, will) re-ignite the classic franchise. Even Trekkies should be happy about that.

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