The new Star Trek movie had to be just a little bit good to receive rave reviews and command the number one slot at the box office. It didn’t have to be magnificent. It just couldn’t be really bad and it couldn’t be sorta, kinda good. It had to be just a little bit better than expected. And it is. The intelligence to take our collective knowledge and compile it into a semi-serious stew makes the film a delightful trip down memory lane. But the genius here is mostly in the casting. Zachary Quinto as Spock is a revelation. The hardest character to cast, the most interesting on the show, the iconic enigma, Spock had to be right on the money otherwise the whole thing would have failed. Quinto has Spock down so well that he manages not just to be a good imitation, but an interesting new character in his own right. Chris Pine is okay as James T. Kirk; no one can really replace William Shatner’s Kirk, however. But Pine does a formidable job as the frat boy version of Kirk. He is lacking Shatner’s inherent pompousness, a minor flaw in an otherwise entertaining movie.The new movie is about establishing the crew of Starship Enterprise, how Kirk becomes the captain, how Scottie becomes, well, Scottie. It focuses quite heavily on the relationship between Kirk and Spock, and a relationship between the younger Spock and the older Spock (one of the film’s highlights). What Star Trek does so well is remind those of us who watched the TV show how good it was and how wonderful the actors were. It probably isn’t quite deep enough for lifelong Trekkies who are also devoted to all of the offshoots of the original Star Trek. The new movie, directed by JJ Abrams, is really more for purists, those for whom there is only one Star Trek.However, kids who have never seen the series will find the film highly entertaining as well, and it may inspire them to seek out the old show. Before long, a whole new generation of Trekkies will be born. It is the fad that keeps on evolving, inexplicably. The only somewhat disturbing aspect to all of this is how circular it all becomes. Because it’s really terrifying to “boldly go where no man has gone before,” the film industry must continually double and triple back into old and familiar material. It more than satisfies the need to entertain an audience but it is, perhaps, a bit too safe.On the other hand, there isn’t much one can complain about after such an entertaining joy ride. We are reminded just how great all of those original Star Trek characters were. And how much we loved them. This film doesn’t try to replace them so much as celebrate them, both the actors who played them and the archetypes they evolved into. Star Trek was, in truth, a great TV show. Star Trek isn’t a great film. But it is just a little bit better than what we’re used to. And we’re all so grateful.
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