When walking into Greater Union’s massive GMAX theatre, the Star Trek emblem takes centre stage on the big screen. For decades it has been the symbol of not only Star Trek’s lengthy franchise, but also of the sub-culture it has inspired, with legions of Trekkies all around the world following the Enterprises adventures, with a devout religious-like zeal. And after an enthusiastic introduction by the head of Paramount Pictures Australia, it is clear that the reach of Star Trek is long indeed.
The vibe in the theatre, filled with various film critics and online journalists, is palpable. We are, after all, here to witness the rebirth of a film franchise which has been stuck in a rut for a long while now, with the last Star Trek film, Nemesis, released in 2002 to less than enthusiastic reviews.
Enter Alias and Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams, who has taken on the seemingly impossible task of rebooting the franchise. And if what I saw was of any indication, then it seems that Abrams has succeeded.
The 25 min presentation of Star Trek circa 2009 begins with the films kick ass trailer, and is then followed by an introduction by Abrams, who briefly describes his love for Star Trek, how he became involved, and what he hopes to achieve.
First we are introduced to reckless farm boy James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). After failing to work his charms on Star Fleet Officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), a drunken Kirk becomes involved in a bloody bar fight against other Star Fleet officers. Stopping the fight is Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who urges Kirk to join up with his crew on the USS Enterprise.
Quiet evident off the bat are two things: the spot on casting of it main characters, especially Pine who comes off as a cross between William Shatner and a Ken doll; and the impressive production value, which features a mesh of future sci-fi technology and 1960s era culture.
Next up is an equally funny and thrilling sequence, which involves Kirk trying to stave off an attack on the Enterprise by evil Romulan, Nero (a bald and bad ass Eric Bana). While doing so Kirk must cope with an allergic reaction to a vaccine which has swollen his face and hands.
This sequence also sets up the rivalry between Kirk and second in command, half human/half alien Spock. He is played by a spot on Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame. Another character introduced during this scene is Dr. Leonard McCoy, played by the criminally underused Karl Urban.
The third scene had tongues waggling, since it features none other than Leonard Nimoy as an elder Spock, who guides a disillusioned Kirk towards the path of greatness and leadership, which is to become his destiny. Along the way, Kirk is introduced to engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, played by an in form Simon Pegg. I don’t want to write anymore with this sequence, since many plot elements will be ruined if I delve any deeper.
The films last scene is the most action packed, as Kirk and Hiakru Sulu (John Cho), fight off Roumulan’s while trying to disarm a large drill set to destroy the planet of Vulcan. An adrenaline fuelled free fall by Kirk and Sulu from outer space into Vulcan, will have heads spinning with its break neck ferocity and amazing effects.
And so, as quickly as it begun, the presentation is finished. For many Trek fans, it was a salivating drop of water through the drought which is the Star Trek film franchise. For newcomers to the series –much like myself – it is a refreshing introduction to these characters, without having to take on the heavy weight of its long and deep history.
Either way, Abrams Star Trek looks a winner. Watch out for it when it hits theatres worldwide in May, 2009.