Until this re-imagining was released in summer 2009, I was mostly indifferent towards “Star Trek,” but this crowd-pleasing blockbuster really changed my opinion, and became a gateway to explore the long-running franchise. From the moment the movie begins, it’s clear that director J.J. Abrams has a reverence for the source material but also the strength to forge a forward path of his own, and first and foremost, he does so with the help of a cast brimming with megawatt charisma: Everyone here is perfectly cast, with Abrams extracting their individual strengths and blending them into a cohesive whole, like Chris Pine’s buckets of charm or Zachary Quinto’s compelling steeliness or John Cho’s pleasing underdog appeal, among others. The screenplay has the crisp, rat-a-tat beat of pleasantly formulaic mainstream entertainment (not unlike the early Marvel movies), finding room for humanity and character development even when shoehorned into a tightly and strictly-paced plot. If there’s one drawback it’s likely Eric Bana’s performance as the villainous Nero, whose backstory and motivation provide plenty of material for exploring the ambiguity between revenge and justice but end up being diluted by Bana’s underwhelming, disappointingly muted performance (it’s not until the climax when an alarmed Nero yells “fire everything” at an incoming Federation ship that we catch a glimpse of the distress beneath his bravado, and it suggests a deeper performance than we’re treated to). But still, it’s a great way to spend two hours in the company of likable characters doing the best they can to rise above impossible circumstances, and there’s plenty of exciting, suspenseful action along the way.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)