starring John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy
screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
directed by J.J. Abrams
by Walter Chaw My long-held suspicion of J.J. Abrams as a no-trick pony has thawed completely now that after producing the exceptional Cloverfield, he has directed a reboot of Gene Roddenberry's beloved "Star Trek" that walks the fine line between absolute seriousness and absolute cheese and does so in about the exact same, smart, swashbuckling way as the '60s TV show, to which this movie serves not as a prequel, but as a delicious alternate possibility. Abrams's Star Trek is faithful to Roddenberry's vision in every way, including a restoration of the sexiness and spunk that's been largely lost to decades of syndication. It's easy to forget that the first interracial kiss on television belongs to the original series--not to mention all those ripped-shirt fights, tumbles with green girls, and "Bizarro-version" facial hair. The picture is faithful simultaneously to the spirit of this time, joining what looks to be a spate of films with apocalyptic visions of entire planets destroyed by unimaginable calamity. Spry and well-written, Star Trek plays up the idea of individual heroism for the collective good in high Trek fashion and, fascinatingly, works in the clay of deep-set parental issues to give its young characters the psychological framework for evolution in this new reality. If this James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is more of a brawler and a rake than Shatner's rakish brawler, blame it on the premature loss of daddy; if this Spock (Zachary Quinto) has his humanity closer to the skin than the other Spock (Leonard Nimoy, who has a sizeable role), blame it on mommy (Winona Ryder). Yet for all its weighted subtext, it avoids the self-seriousness of Christopher Nolan's Batman films and Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, finding in its material the spirit of discovery and bonhomie that made the franchise in its heyday one of the most affecting bits of popular relational drama on television.