Review in a Hurry: Part sequel, part prequel, all clever reboot. Director J.J. Abrams smartly uses existing Trek continuity to change existing Trek continuity (bear with us here) and delivers the truest big-screen take on the original series yet. Also, along with a near-perfect cast, he obliterates the unofficial rule that says only even-numbered Star Trek movies are good.
The Bigger Picture: In the timeframe immediately following the last movie, Nemesis, a catastrophic event destroys planet Romulus and catapults a mining ship captained by pissed-off refugee Nero (Eric Bana) nearly 150 years into the past. He's followed by a smaller ship containing Vulcan Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy).
Because Spock takes 25 years to show up after Nero's arrival, the tattooed Romulan passes the time by blowing up Starfleet ships, changing the course of Star Trek history as we know it—and creating an alternate timeline (rather deftly discussed in a brief onscreen conversation).
So by the time the old gang from the original series gets together on the starship Enterprise, to give Nero a decent fight, they look a little different, and interact a little differently. Kirk (Chris Pine) is now a bitter fatherless rebel, but Pine expertly incorporates all the classic Shatnerisms without doing a direct impersonation—quite a feat.
Zachary Quinto nails young Spock in all but one aspect—his voice just isn't anywhere near as deep as Nimoy's. Karl Urban and Simon Pegg do almost direct (impressive) impersonations of DeForest Kelley and James Doohan in their respective roles as McCoy and Scotty. And John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Zoe Saldana give us updated, better-looking takes on Sulu, Chekov and Uhura.
Sure, but is it any good? Hell yes.
Somehow this movie manages the delicate balancing act of incorporating both the humor and action of the original series, while simultaneously satiating hard-core geeks and fans who thought the original crew could never be succeeded.
Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman also makes major changes to the timeline, indicating that this truly is a new continuity where anything can happen. All the classic catchphrases are here, too, but they never seem forced.
And yes, Kirk gets it on with a green chick.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Abrams occasionally can't resist contemporary references that feel way out of place. Product placements for Nokia and Budweiser (isn't this a postcapitalist society?) are jarring, the use of the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" is abrasive and a conspicuous Tyler Perry cameo feels like a gratuitous attention-getter.
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