This is latest reboot of a well-worn franchise takes the Smallville approach – go back to the beginning, and let’s see how these characters got to the point which we have all grown over-familiar with. There is of course an inherent problem with this – real threat to the characters becomes hard to establish as in our heart of heart we all know they’ve got to survive.
So it is with J J ‘Lost & Alias’ Abrams Star Trek movie. The Starship Enterprise is under construction, the members of the crew we now know as cliches are very much in their formative years too. Kirk is born in a context of sacrifice and duty, leaving him scarred and angry which becomes the very reason for his enrollment in the Starfleet. His relationship with Spock is one of mistrust and suspicion. All the others are present and now-quite correct – there’s hints of the characters we think that we know them to be. Is that really the case, however, or is Abrams going to take them in a radically new direction? It seems he’s given himself the option to do whatever he wants to do over the inevitable series to come, with a mind-bending piece of time travelling trickery. Convulted, but this is Star Trek. It’s carried off with it’s tongue just enough in the cheek, with a knowing wink to the audience.
All in all, this is exciting stuff. It starts with a pre-credit sequence worthy of Bond’s sci-fi cousin and never really lets up, even while investing the characters with heart and soul. And even while it pays homage to the orignal’s retro-chic, this is very much a reinvention of and for it’s time. If you grew up on the TV series you grew up with a diverse and integrated group burying their differences for a greater good. Here unity is forged in suspicion and opposition, doubt and guilt. These are broken & unworthy heroes, perfect where everything from scared texts to expenses claims are viewed with scarcely concealed suspicion. These are people both to follow and to doubt, to admire and yet to keep a log of character flaws which will enable us to tut ‘I told you say‘ at a future fall from grace.
Truly, the heroes the times deserve.