Latest ‘Trek’ perfectly melds old and new


The latest installment of the “Star Trek” franchise is a perfect combination of the old and new. Director J.J. Abrams (Creator of TV’s Lost) truly goes where no one has gone before, recasting the classic crew of the Starship Enterprise and focusing on the early years.

Fortunately, Abrams had the foresight to realize that while he wanted to introduce Star Trek to a new audience, he still needed to acknowledge its longtime fan base and not ignore what came before. He pulls this off beautifully and will likely coax diehard fans into embracing this new crew with the familiar names.

Thanks to the magic of science fiction, the classic cast’s Leonard Nimoy’s participation in the film neither hinders the earlier incarnation of his character (played by Zachary Quinto of TV’s Heroes) nor pales his own portrayal of the iconic character.

The rest of the cast also shines. Chris Pine is excellent as the early Kirk. The new spin put on familiar touchstones in the life of the famous Captain are played out in a way that is fresh, but not inconsistent with the original canon. One scene that longtime fans will enjoy is the Kirk solution to the Kobayashi Maru, a training exercise that is supposed to be a no-win scenario yet Kirk handily beats it.

Simon Pegg is worthy successor to the late James Doohan, although Pegg is sadly underused in this film. John Cho, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin each turn in excellent performances as Sulu, Uhura, McCoy and Chekov, respectively, though Yelchin’s Russian accent comes across as a bit too exaggerated. And the late Majel Barrett Roddenbery, widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, delivers her final work as the familiar voice of the Enterprise computer (and Rodenberrys are honored in the final credits of the film).

In addition to the Kobayashi Maru exercise, one of the many references to Star Trek fandom of particular interest St. Louis audiences is Admiral Archer, which is a direct reference to the most recent TV incarnation of the franchise, Star Trek: Enterprise, featuring St. Louis native Scott Bakula. This and other references keep the film relevant to the loyal fan base, but they are low-key enough so as to not confuse those seeing a Trek movie for the first time.

All in all, this movie is the perfect example of how to keep a cultural icon alive and relevant in this ever changing world. And once again, Star Trek succeeds in its mission of going where no one has gone before.

Star Trek opens in St. Louis on Friday, May 8.