irected by J.J. Abrams
How Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Star Trek crew got their start
Star Trek is an “exciting, stellar-yet-earthy blast that successfully blends the hip and the classic,” said Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. It takes real courage to “beam a new Star Trek,” complete with a new cast, into the minds of viewers with strong opinions about the franchise. But director J.J. Abrams has triumphantly brought the beloved sci-fi series “back to the future.” The television show conceived by Gene Roddenberry first aired in 1966, and four decades of “daunting” galactic mythology have been built up by big- and small-screen recyclings of the show. Abrams’ cleverly constructed prequel boldly goes where previous Star Treks haven’t gone before, said Claudia Puig in USA Today, attempting to shed light on how the original crew of the starship Enterprise came to team up in the first place. Both Trekkies and newcomers are “likely to be transported.”
The “real value” of Abrams’ version is his refusal to treat Star Trek as a sacred text, said Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com. Paced at warp speed and loaded with effects, his film honors the “show’s legacy without fossilizing its best qualities.” In fact, unlike previous Star Trek films, Abrams’ “actually bothers to invent and support a believable back story.” The film initially turns back the clock to the early days of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, then flashes forward to their experiences on the deck of the Enterprise. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto “lovingly restore youth to their characters,” paying homage to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, respectively, without resorting to impressions. Their near-fraternal rivalry gives the film its emotional and dramatic force, and Abrams more or less skips the heady concepts that have weighed down other installments.
Cannily weaving “myth and escapism,” Abrams proves he is an “able steward of the Star Trek narrative,” said Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. By bringing along older viewers while courting new ones, his film opens up “the final frontier to a whole new generation of fans who have yet to appreciate Star Trek’s ineffable combination of sci-fi action, campy humor,” and philosophical debate. If Abrams remains at the helm for future films, Star Trek “will once again live long and prosper.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to make homemade marshmallow Peeps
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Can these 4 couples really afford their dream houses?
- 10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2014
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
Subscribe to the Week