Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine aren't your father's
Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk. But they're pretty close.
© 2009 Paramount
(Reviewed July 7, 2009, by James Dawson)
I know this sounds blasphemous, but J.J. Abrams' "re-invention" of the Star Trek franchise is my favorite movie of the series. That's right, I like this almost-all-new-cast version more than "The Wrath of Kahn," and even more than "The Voyage Home." In fact, I can safely predict that this action- and fun-packed romp will be on my 10 Best of 2009 list!
The best way to describe why this complete makeover works is that Abrams (and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) rather audaciously "cheat to win," and completely succeed. In the same way that Captain Kirk defeats Starfleet's Kobayashi Maru test by reprogramming the computer simulator (an event seen in the first Star Trek movie, and revisited in this one), Abrams and company essentially change the parameters of the Star Trek game by creating a separate reality timeline from the one we know and love. Because these technically are not the same characters from the TV series and the first 10 movies, it's "anything can happen" time. In this offshoot reality, Kirk can be a directionless, bar-brawling badass, Spock can hook up with Uhuru, the planet Vulcan can be devoured by a black hole...and it's all fair play.
In an impressive casting hat-trick, all three of the main roles—Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as Dr. "Bones" McCoy—are perfectly cast, and so is Simon Pegg in a smaller part as engineer Montgomery Scott. Eric Bana is excellent as a raging Romulan with a time-altering 'tude, thanks to the fact that his home planet was destroyed (another change). And Winona Ryder pops up as Spock's mom!
If you're already a Trek fan, you've already seen this movie. If you're not a fan, you will be after you see it. Which you should do at warp speed.
Back Row Reviews Grade: A