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Ok, J.J. Abrams, I am now a True Believer…

May 1, 2009

enterprise-star-trek-2009 I got to see the advance screening of the new J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” last night in Chicago. Many thanks to Capone and the rest of the folks at Ain’t It Cool News, Paramount Pictures, and especially my son, Bogus, for making it possible. It was a very cool experience to see this movie with a theater completely packed with fans!

First, I’m 54 years old. I remember when the original Star Trek series premiered. It was about the same time as “Lost In Space” and I remember liking the pilot for that show better. However, LIS went downhill fast from there, while ST got better and better, through the second season. The third and final season had some well-done character development, but frankly the writing generally sucked.

I’m not going to review the Trek history here. I’m just mentioning because of the obvious comparisons that will be made with this new Kirk & Company. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as well.

First, if you have an iPhone you can get the graphic novel, “Countdown,” as four iPhone apps. It’s a prequel that sets up the new movie. It’s also available as a printed book.)

Basically, this is a standard Star Trek premise: everybody else in Starfleet is otherwise occupied, a major threat to Life As We Know It appears, and it’s up to Kirk and the Enterprise crew to save us. And, of course, they do. But in this case, Kirk is just out of the Academy, as is most of the rest of the crew, and he’s not even supposed to be on the ship!

Standouts in the cast: Chris Pine is fine a a rebellious, hell-raising Jim Kirk. Zachary Quinto brings his own personality to a younger Spock, and does well with it. He doesn’t have the voice Nimoy had when he was young, but he has a quirky personality that rings true.

Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy is a frakkin’ genius. He sounds just like De Kelly, voice, inflection, drawl, everything. And Kurtzman and Orci give him the classic lines, which he delivers magnificently. He’s often the comic relief when it’s needed most.

I also liked Anton Yelchin as a very young (age 17) Pavel Chekov. He has the bright-eyed innocence down pat, and his accent is just broad enough to be funny when it needs to be without going over the top.

Simon Peg as Scotty and Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike also do great jobs in their roles. Eric Bana as Nero, the villian, is just OK with me…not Romulan enough, I think. Zoe Saldana as Uhura also does a nice job, but doesn’t have the sultry sexiness-just-under- control that Nichelle Nichols had when she was young. (Come to think of it, she still does. Dang!)

John Cho lacks George Takei’s commanding voice as Sulu, but then so does just about everybody…one of the best voices ever, and he’s still got it, too. Ben Cross as  Sarek had the toughest job. Mark Lenard might have been the best actor ever to play a memorable ST character, and he just got better in the movies. Cross is good enough, but lacks the gravitas that Dick Cheney and Mark Lenard possessed!

ILM’s effects work is notably excellent, the bridge is awesome – but no seat belts yet – and the Enterprise handles like a sports car on screen. I found the industrial, factory-like quality of the the engine room and such in the Enterprise and in the USS Kelvin jarring , though…no money for a cool engine room?

Excellent plot with fewer holes and suspensions of disbelief than most Trek episodes or movies; good to outstanding cast; gorgeous look to the whole production, and enough action and great lines for any two hours…you’ll say “I can’t wait for the sequel.” I did! Go see it…more than once!

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