I have had "Star Trek" on the brain since Saturday morning, when I previewed the new film. As I noted here already, it sent me to my DVDs of the original series; in addition, last night the bride and I rewatched "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," which had great influence on the new film. And I am just in heaven. (For a wry view of who else is in heaven, see here.)
But here's one very important thing: I am a "Star Trek" fan but not an obsessive, and Target Demo -- who went to the screening with me -- is an even more casual admirer of "Star Trek." I think the movie still works even if you only get some, or very few, of the references to "Star Trek" past. It's a 3 1/2 star movie, falling just short enough to keep from getting my first 4-star review. ...
I will be writing that full review a little later, so this is more in the form of random notes. First, the action sequences opening the movie are exhilarating. I even got a little misty -- not for the first time during the film.
The casting of the younger versions of the original crew are consistently impressive, with two major standouts: Zachary Quinto's Spock and Karl Urban's McCoy. As skeptical as I was of "Heroes'" Sylar pulling off Spock, he does so admirably -- especially since, as a pre-TOS Spock he has to both hit the right notes for what the character becomes and play the character as he is, and has to be in a movie with Leonard Nimoy himself.
Urban does a similar fine job (and gets a very good entrance to the movie). I'm not knocking Chris Pine's Kirk here; he's perfectly OK. But the other guys are game-on. Special mention for Simon Pegg's Scotty, although not so much because he's redoing Scotty as because he's Pegg, and he's funny, and he just cuts loose here.
The plot: Without giving too much away, it has overtones of the old series, of "Wrath of Khan" and of "Lost." There is a point where the storytelling drags briefly, with an unnecessary bit of action setting up a character's arrival. There's some character background which I wish had been more fully developed. But overall it is quite satisfying, and has me ready for at least two or three more movies with this group.
The look: Snazzy. It offers retro flourishes, especially in the costumes, but pulls out all the stops on the effects, which are quite exciting.
The insider stuff: There is a ton of it. And there are points where nit-pickers may object. But "Star Trek" has been retooled and rewritten so many times, you can pretty much choose your own mythology. But, again, the movie is smart about how it draws on the old "Star Trek," taking pains not to overuse classic lines, and offering enough explanation of the big points that you don't get lost if you're not steeped in "Trek" lore.
Context: If I were to rank the original-crew movies before this, it would probably be 2, 6, 4, 3, 1, 5, although I understand the fans of 4, and the first half of 2 looks really slow now. That said, I have to put the new "Star Trek" ahead of all of them, as well as the "TNG" movies, although I have fond memories of "First Contact." It's not simply a reinvention for a new generation of moviegoers. It's an homage not only to the old show but to its old fans, like me.