I suppose I should get his out of the way: I’m not a Kirk and Spock Star Trek guy. I enjoyed The Next Generation when in high school, but other than that, I wouldn’t call myself a fan. I certainly never thought much of the previous films.
So with all that being said, J.J. Abrams’ newest addition to the Star Trek mythos delighted me, amazed me, and—dare I say it—even made me a fan.
Within the first five minutes of Star Trek, I experienced more authentic emotion than all of the previous films combined, and it only got better from there. Although it has a running time of 127 minutes, it felt like I sat in my chair only mere moments. Star Trek is fast-paced, action-packed, and laden with fantastic special effects. Moreover, the story actually (for the most part) makes sense and is well-constructed. The heroes were given ample motivation, and even the villain’s malevolent incentives were integral to the plot (if not always completely understandable).
The best part of Star Trek for me, though, is that each and every major player in the film has charm. Before Abrams got hold of them, I couldn’t have cared less about any of Kirk’s crew. But from Chehov to Sulu to Uhura, each and every one of the actors oozed charisma and lured me into investing myself in them. They are distinctly their own personalities, and they’re a heck of a lot fun to watch in action (especially Simon Pegg as Scotty).
The true victory, however, is that Abrams took two characters who had frankly been done to death and made them fresh, magnetic, and appealing. I never in a million years thought I’d find Spock and Kirk “cool,” but they are now indubitably just that!
Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk is arrogant, tough, funny, and incredibly compelling. They were smart to start the film the way they did, because it makes us root for Kirk before we’ve even met him. I wanted this underdog to succeed, even if he’d probably irritate me to no end in real life. Pine pulls off Kirk’s overconfidence in a supremely amiable manner, and good for him, because otherwise the character wouldn’t have worked.
And I have to be honest—I previously thought Spock might have been the lamest character ever. There was nothing remotely identifiable about him until Zachary Quinto took hold of the half-Vulcan and gave him a surprisingly robust edge. Quinto’s Spock is far more human than he would like, full of rage and emotion, and you can literally see Quinto restraining Spock’s emotions as they fight for release. His Spock is sarcastic, tense, and even dangerous. And yet, even with all of these qualities, Quinto makes him likable—even vulnerable. Again, because of how Spock is introduced to us, we can’t help but root for him as well.
I think that’s the real success of the film—they make us root for the crew of the Enterprise. They make us care about the characters. They make us want to see more of Spock and Kirk vying to one-up the other, even if eventually on friendly terms. Most importantly—they make us want to see more of these two in action.
If you’re a science fiction fan, I cannot recommend Star Trek highly enough. Even if you never enjoyed Star Trek before, I know you’ll walk out of the theater cheering for this crew. And best of all? While Abrams didn’t eradicate the past Star Trek movies, he made sure that the audience can’t know what will happen next for young Kirk and Spock. He didn’t erase the past, but he muddied the future. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to the next Star Trek movie, and I never thought I’d utter those words in a million years.