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Not Your Father's 'Star Trek': A New Trek For A New Generation

April 24th, 2009 10:05am EDT
Star TrekTwo weeks ago, Trekkies in Austin were treated to the thrill of a lifetime when, during a screening of The Wrath of Khan at the Alamo Theater, Leonard Nimoy walked onstage and offered to show them the brand-new upcoming Star Trek in its entirety. The reviews that came from this advance preview were, well, explosive, leaving Twitter a melted puddle of geek fangasm, and the rest of the internet collectively quivering in anticipation. Now, early reviews are starting to come in from various publications, including the UK's Daily Mail, which said "[Star Trek] is not only by far the best of the 11 Star Trek movies, it must rank as the outstanding prequel of all time."

Star TrekTo say I'm excited is the understatement of the universe; I can't really come up with a way to fully quantify my level of anticipation, except to say that I haven't looked forward to a film this much since Return of the King, or maybe The Phantom Menace (although we all know how that turned out). Star Trek, in its prime (my opinion: TNG's season four), was the best show on television and consistently set the bar for thoughtful, character-rich sci-fi. However, an oversaturation of the TV landscape with Trek spinoffs had the effect of diluting its impact--and in the case of Enterprise, the franchise's quality standards were nearly obliterated, the show canceled after only four seasons and the tattered Trek universe left behind by audiences. Fans have waited five long years for new material. I can't think of a better choice in director than J.J. Abrams, himself a huge Star Trek fan, to reboot the franchise; the man knows his jaw-dropping action (Alias), knows his mind-bending plot twists (Lost), and most of all, has an incredible knack for creating full-formed, fascinating characters. It's appropriate, then, that he chose to go back and explore the original crew of the Enterprise; The Original Series, and its subsequent feature films (Treks I - VI), are less about aliens and technobabble, and more about the inseverable bonds of the Enterprise crew, their deep friendships and how far they'll go to protect each other and stick together while having the greatest adventures of their lives.

On a superficial note, it's a very pretty cast, too. Between Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, and Zoe Saldana, there's almost too much to look at in the brief (but AWESOME) trailers we've been fed. The effects look stunning--that black hole in the middle of the planet, the parachuting, the space battles--and the tone of the film goes back to the grittier days of Trek, before there was a utopian society and a Prime Directive making everything cushy. This looks like the world we were shown in The Wrath of Khan, the world where crazy villains spar with brave captains to the death, and beloved crew members are forced to sacrifice their lives to meet the needs of the many. This is both the Trek we remember, and the Trek we've always expanded in our own imaginations: bigger, flashier, more thrilling than any Trek we've ever seen.

Expectations are high, but I have faith that Abrams and his band of devoted Trek fans will deliver this summer's best movie experience. George Lucas could take a hint from all this: if you want to make a prequel that will actually satisfy your audience and re-invigorate a franchise, let the fans have their say. One thing's for sure: I need to find my communicator pin for the midnight showing on May 8th. Until then, live long and prosper, and try not to die of excitement.

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Meghan McCracken
Story by Meghan McCracken

Starpulse contributing writer