2009 // USA // J. J. Abrams // November 24, 2009 // Blu-ray - Paramount (2009)
B- - With his reboot of the moribund Star Trek franchise, J. J. Abrams has chucked out the moralizing and paper-thin social allegory that characterized Gene Rodenberry's original series and delivered something closer to a Buck Rogers-style swashbuckling space opera. Abrams is keenly aware that for Trekkies and casual viewers alike, the iconic characters are always what lent the series its endurance. His tactic is to transplant those characters into a rollicking adventure, while retaining the physics mumbo-jumbo and desperate gambits that have always been the franchise's bread-and-butter. The film is also an arch variant on the "Getting the Team Together" formula, as Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al. are slotted into place for their syndicated television destiny. Predictably, the elaborate, time-hopping plot is only sketchily conveyed, and without William Shatner's hammy presence, it is shockingly evident (to this non-Trekkie) that James T. Kirk was always a bit of an asshole. Still, Star Trek is dazzling, giddy stuff, a complete re-purposing of a pop culture institution for distinctly old school cinematic thrills, complete with black holes, monstrous aliens, and doomsday weapons. If Abrams' only goal was to render Starfleet officers as the badass successors of pirates and cowboys, then mission accomplished.