TheFeed was privileged enough to be invited to a screening of four scenes from the upcoming Star Trek relaunch. The event was hosted by the director, J.J. Abrams who reassured us of his love and respect for Star Trek and based on what we saw, he does indeed love the series as much as any die hard Trekkie. After waxing nostalgic about Star Trek, he showed us snippets of what will perhaps be the best Trek film of all time.
In the past, non-fans have been turned away from classic Trek because of its campiness, but they don't have to worry about that this time around. If the original series was "camp," this is military school. We don't mean that it's grueling to watch, it's just a leaner, meaner, more realistic version of Star Trek than we've ever seen and that's definitely a good thing. At the same time, die-hards will love nods to the original series as well as the action and humor which are abundant in the re-invisioning. Read on to find out why you need to boldly go to theaters in May of 2009.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
The first scene we were shown takes place in a towny bar in Iowa, where we're introduced to a brilliant, but rebellious young man by the name of James T. Kirk. Longtime fans will be happy to know that Kirk's character hasn't changed and he is as brash here as he ever was. Also, his relationship with the opposite sex isn't at all different as the first thing he tries to do is pick up on a cadet Zenolinguist, Uhura (who, played by Zoe Saldana, is as sassy, not to mention hot, as Nichelle Nichols was in her day). Of course, her fellow cadets don't take kindly to Kirk's advances and a fight erupts, with Kirk doing a fair amount of ass kicking at first. He puts up a valiant fight, but outnumbered, he quickly finds himself on the losing end of the fray.
That's when Kirk's skin is saved by none other than Captain Christopher Pike (not a scarred, four wheeled cross between a refrigerator and a Christmas tree light, like in the series), who serves as a father figure to Kirk and the young crew throughout the film. Having admired James' father, Captain George Kirk (who died saving his son and wife), Pike has an affinity for the directionless youth and challenges him to live up to his potential and the memory of his deceased father and reintroduce the "leap without looking" bravado that has vanished from Starfleet.
We all know that Kirk can't walk away from a challenge and the scene ends with him boarding the last transport shuttle to Starfleet Academy. Trekkies (Trekkers), we know that you are ever protective of the franchise, especially when it comes to the legacy of James Tiberius Kirk, but if ever there were a man to play a young Kirk, Chris Pine is it. Put your phasers down and relax.
The second scene takes place a few years later and involves Kirk (who has been in nothing but trouble since joining Starfleet and thus not granted commission aboard a starship) using a Starfleet loophole to finagle his way on board as a patient of medical officer, Leonard "Bones" McCoy," played by Karl Urban, whose a dead ringer for DeForest Kelley (and as good a choice as Gary Sinise would have been had the casting rumors been true). The Enterprise is heading, maximum warp, toward Vulcan to assist in saving or evacuating the planet due to some phenomenon which is wreaking havoc on the planet from the outer atmosphere. Kirk, having been intentionally infected by Bones with a mild virus is suffering its comedic side effects, while Bones is trying to combat the symptoms with every hypospray in his medical kit.
All the while, Kirk is seeking our Uhura in the bowels of the Enterprise (which looks more like an overcrowded submarine than the Apple store, despite much early speculation to the contrary), so she can help convince the captain that the disturbance above Vulcan is not a natural phenomenon, but a Romulan trap (she, apparently in an earlier scene that we weren't shown, intercepted Romulan subspace messages). The scene also introduces a young cadet who has trouble interacting with the ship's verbal interface because of his thick Russian accent, Pavel Chekov and a certain pointy eared crewmember who does not get along at all with Kirk. Having made his way to the bridge, Kirk convinces Pike, with Uhura's help, that whatever is destroying Vulcan is not natural and is most certainly a Romulan weapon. Kirk's gut instinct proves correct and the crew prepares to take on an unexpected Romulan threat.
In the third scene, Kirk, after being booted off the ship by acting captain Spock, ends up on a nearly desolate planet with Spock. No, that's not a typo, it's a not uncommon Star Trek plot device rearing its head in the film, time travel. Future Spock has traveled back in time to help young Kirk save Vulcan by wrestling command of the Enterprise away from an emotionally compromised (and therefore unfit to command) young Spock.
Of course, he can't do it without the help of a genius engineer, one of the only two Starfleet officers stationed on the planet, Scotty (played brilliantly by Simon Pegg). So, Spock classic explains the importance of the unfolding events to young Kirk and makes him promise never to reveal these events to new Spock. After challenging the Vulcan on the ethics of time travel, calling it "cheating," Spock (clearly referencing Kirk's legendary triumph over the Kobayashi Maru in the original Star Trek lore), admits that he learned from an old friend that sometimes cheating is the only way to win.
In the final scene, Pike takes an away team consisting of Spock, who is promoted to the position of Acting Captain, Kirk and a Red Shirt (whose name isn't important, because we all know what happens to them; yet another classic touch which remains true in this iteration of Trek) to the outer atmosphere in a shuttlecraft to disable the miles long laser drill which the Romulans are using to bore to the center of Vulcan. Wearing parachute equipped drop gear, a nervous Kirk asks one of his compatriots about his combat training, to which the fearful cadet answers, ìFencing.î Of course, that cadet is instantly recognizable as Sulu (John Cho).
The trio are dropped from the shuttlecraft and plumet for what seems like miles along the spine of the laser, having to time the parachute release just right, so they land on the end of the drill, a laser emitting platform which is itself hovering miles above the planet's surface. With all the zest of an extreme sports enthusiast (one of those guys who is just way too pumped about how ìextremeî snowboarding is), the Red Shirt tries to pull off a ten point landing by deploying his shoot late and ends up crashing painfully into the platform, falling off of it and then accidentally flinging himself into the drill laser. It's both dramatic and unintentionally hilarious.
Both Sulu and Kirk land and are confronted by two Romulans. While Kirk fights hand to hand, Sulu pulls a bladeless handle from his jumpsuit, which sprouts a piece of metal that unfolds like an origami swan into a blade and quickly dispatches the Romulans. It's then that we learn through a series of cutaways that the Romulans have been drilling through the planet to create a black hole in the center of Vulcan.
What we saw was overwhelmingly impressive. Yes, things are different with Abrams at the helm and some of the Trek insider history might not be exact, but as we said earlier, this is perhaps the best Star Trek film you will ever see... until the inevitable sequel. Trekkies, your prayers to Kahless have been answered!