Before we discuss Star Trek, can we take a moment to talk about the IMAX experience? Because every time we go to that monster theater on 68th street, we’re awfully excited … and yet every single time we end up missing the prime seats (the last three rows, center) and end up with a crick in our neck and our eyeballs throbbing till morning. Why is this? But no matter, because even little human discomforts didn’t take away from the very fun ride that is Star Trek.
A few disclaimers at the top. We were never that into the seminal television show or any of the movies that came before this one. We knew enough—Captain Kirk was kind of a horndog, Spock had some emotional issues (but he wanted people to live long and prosper), the U.S.S. Enterprise was some sort of amazing spaceship and etc—but we happily discovered early on it didn’t matter and this movie isn’t exclusively for the fanboys. It’s an origins story, and as we’ve said before, who doesn’t want to get down with an origins story? We learn at the start of the film about some of the events that sent James T. Kirk hurtling down a path to greatness (hey, nice three-second cameo, House’s Jennifer Morrison!). Kirk (Chris Pine) is a handsome hothead who is mainly concerned about who will next share his bed. But after meeting Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood, who we now have a super-duper crush on) he’s convinced to give Starfleet Academy a whirl. We also meet Spock (Heroes’ Zachary Quinto), half-Vulcan and half-human (his mother is Winona Ryder! Seriously! It’s kind of crazy, and even more so that our poor waif-y heroine from yesteryear doesn’t get more screen time) who must make a decision about which culture he needs to embrace. When Spock and Kirk first meet, they don’t like each other one bit and both actors do an excellent job in doing pretty good homages to Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Shatner without ever once seeming silly or contrived. There is a lot of space stuff and excitement and high-class weapons and about a thousand references we’re sure we didn’t get but you know what? We got enough, and Mr. Abrams made sure even those who don’t know the tenets of Vulcanism or every facet of Starfleet etiquette could follow along and have a good time.
We either owe Mr. Abrams a huge debt or should be really mad at him for how much space in our brain has been taken up watching his television shows: Felicity, Alias, Lost. On the other hand, we did not appreciate Cloverfield. But here with Star Trek, he manages to control the action scenes with great pacing while slowing things down at the right time to get some real emotion, and some big laughs in as well (more Simon Pegg next time, please!). For us, the craziest part was realizing after the movie was over that the big bad villain this time around is played by Eric Bana. Is that guy just everywhere these days or what (you’ll see, he’s still got Funny People and The Time Traveler’s Wife as well as his documentary about being in love with his car). Anyway, Mr. Bana takes on evil with relish, and threatens the end of the world as we know it with aplomb. We can’t wait for the sequel.