Star Trek (2009)

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Winona Ryder, Bruce Greenwood, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Deep Roy

Directed by: JJ Abrams

Rating: 1 2 3 4

The original crew of the USS Enterprise

Space. The final frontier. Yup, they've brought back The Dukes of Hazard, The Avengers, Thunderbirds, Starsky and Hutch and even Scooby Doo, mostly with mediocre results. But now Hollywood has turned its attention to that classic old school TV show, Star Trek. But unlike the aforementioned series, Star Trek has never really gone away, constantly reinventing itself through Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise and of course ten movies (why do I suddenly feel like Penny on The Big Bang Theory?), garnering new generations of fans every time. And, unlike other TV movie spin-offs, this new reincarnation of Star Trek is actually good.

This reimagining of the iconic franchise takes us back to the beginning, starting with the birth of one James Tiberius Kirk and giving us an entertaining glimpse into his childhood before fast-forwarding to his rookie years in Star Fleet. Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away (yeah, sometimes it is a little more Wars than Trek, especially in its '90s styling, which looks as if it was all inspired by the extra CGI bits crammed into the original Lucas trilogy) we see a young Spock growing up torn between two inheritances: his Vulcan father and human mother (oh Winona! When did you get so old?), a dichotomy between logic and passion, head and heart which is to inform the entire plot.

The new crew of the USS Enterprise

On board the familiar fried egg and two sausages that is the USS Enterprise, our fledgling crew find themselves up against a rogue ship of Romulans, a bad-assed bunch of tattooed skinheads that look more like the cast of ID than aliens, led by a practically unrecognisable Eric Bana, who are bent on destroying, well, pretty much everything really. But all is not as it seems: time is warped, space is imploding, SFX are going crazy and there's a cunning plot twist which gives Lost director JJ Abrams free rein to play merry hell with Trek lore.

Yet while the new film does boldly go in new directions, there are also plenty of satisfying but pleasingly underplayed 'proper' Star Trek elements to keep the fans happy:  the Vulcan neck pinch, the immediately disposable red-jerseyed officer, Kirk beamed down to a planet full of rubbish monsters, a completely pointless choppy-cutty machine in the bowels of the Enterprise, Uhuru's '60s make-up and unfeasibly short skirts and lots more that a plethora of geeks on IMDB will happily point out for you. (Had you heard of the Kobayashi Maru test before? Me neither…)

Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk in the new Star Trek

Working from a script that somebody may actually have put some thought into, the plot is surprisingly character-driven, backed up by great performances from a young and relatively unknown cast (and Leonard Nimoy …). Chris Pine captures perfectly William Shatner's edgy mix of impetuous decisiveness and louche charisma, while Zachary Quinto is uncannily similar to the 'real' Spock (and worryingly attractive too – oh dear), stealing the show as he's supposed to do. The jury's still out on Simon Pegg's Glaswegian accent, but he provides some welcome comic relief, along with his sidekick Keenser (Deep Roy – immediately recognisable despite his big ol' rubber alien head), while Karl Urban gives Dr McCoy a welcome dose of sex appeal – who'd a thunk it?

I've never been what you'd call a Trekkie (although it's hard to live with someone like Ian for all this time and not have some of it rub off on you),  nor am I a huge fan of Abrams, creator of perhaps the most annoying telly series since, um, The Chuckle Brothers. And yet Star Trek won me over.  And, with two sequels already in the pipeline, it looks as if Kirk and Spock will live long and prosper for many years yet.

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