Calling All Trekkies

Fans of Star Trek will revel in the tales about the origins of their favorite characters. And there's enough plot and all-out-fun to keep the newbies engaged.

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Truth be told, we weren't so sure that the world needed another addition to the whole Star Trek enterprise. (Yes, Trekkies, we know: Sacrilege!) There are far too many spinoffs and spinoffs of spinoffs in the pantheon of summer blockbuster hits. So been there, so done that.

Transformers 2. Really?

But this latest entree, rather than trotting out something tried and trite, is a testosterone-fueled, adrenaline-pumping, time-traveling romp of a prequel, filled with the requisite exploding spaceships, a viciously venal villain, snarky sci-fi jokes and a sexy green lady who can't keep her clothes on.

Which is to say: Star Trek is a hoot.

It's not really doing anything new, cinematically speaking. But Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams, is really, really well done, and somehow, it manages to feel fresh, shedding new light on characters that have occupied a prominent place in pop culture for 42 years.

This is no small accomplishment. After all, we're in the season of sense and sensation, of flash-pots and CGI pyrotechnics, of savvy superheroes, ear-thumping soundtracks and paroxysms of carefully calibrated violence. Box offices are saying “ca-ching,” as fans flood the multiplex in search of a little, or a lot, of mind-numbing escapism. If they're lucky, they'll be served something smart with their popcorn. (Think Iron Man.) If not, well, then, filmgoers can always console themselves with the pretty tricks in all those Transformers-type flicks.

With Star Trek, moviegoers get lucky. Very lucky.  Fans of the series will revel in the inside jokes and the tales of how their favorite characters came into being. Meanwhile, there's enough plot, character development and all-out-fun to keep even the newest of newbies engaged.

Things get cranking right away with a little primer in how Capt. James Tiberius Kirk came to be: The senior Capt. Kirk is struggling to fight off alien forces, while his wife is giving birth in an emergency shuttle that's just been ejected from their ill-fated spaceship. The infant Kirk enters the world just as his father is exiting it.

Fast-forward a decade or so, to find a very young Kirk speeding through the cornfields of Iowa in a really antique (circa late 20th century) sports car. He can barely see over the steering wheel, and some adult at home is squawking at him through the speaker over the car phone thingamajig, telling him that if he doesn't bring the car home, right now, without a single scratch on it, he's going to be in very, very big trouble. Suffice it to say, the car ends up with more than a scratch—a lot more than a scratch. And trouble is found in the guise of a flying Robo-cop.