All hail J.J. Abrams

I have never watched a full episode of either "Alias" or "Lost," so I went into the new "Star Trek" movie unfamiliar with J. J. Abrams' (the shiny new director) oeuvre. Conversely, I was a middling fan of the first run of original cast movies (some of which were easier to be a fan of than others) and of the "Next Generation" series (at least until they killed off my favorite character a couple of seasons in). I didn't watch any of the later television series with any dedication, hardly ever watched the original series in re-run, and couldn't give a detailed history of the plot points or backstory from the bits of the "Star Trek" franchise that I did watch. All in all, neither a member of the core fan base nor a detractor, but a fan of good science fiction in general.

With all of that said, I have got to hand it to Mr. Abrams. The new film, which I took in last night with the Better Half, is fantastic. He has taken a wheezing, clunking franchise that was looking like it needed to be taken behind the barn and shot, and given it a much-needed jolt. The acting is solid (particularly the new Spock), and the story kicks along nicely. I could have done without the requisite "bad boy" intro to Kirk, but once the more eye-rolling bits of his character arc are done with, the movie has few missteps. (It doesn't hurt matters that the new Kirk is, um... easy on the eyes.)

It is best not to think too hard about the plot, which verges on the silly at bits. (For certain stuffed shirt reviewers, I would remind them that this is a science fiction franchise, and thus a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required. Try to have fun, for pity's sake.) And someone needs to explain why women in Starfleet are still wearing skirts that threaten to make their nether regions part of explored space. But the movie introduces new incarnations of familiar characters with a light hand, and a respectful nod to the road we've all been down for decades. (One particularly menacing plot point actually reminded me of the first "Star Wars.")

In short, the movie did exactly what it needed to do. Well done, Mr. Abrams. I await the inevitable sequels.

One final note, giving credit where it is due. I am not what you'd call a fan of Winona Ryder, whose physical loveliness and critical acclaim have always exceeded her talent, in my estimation. However, in her teeny, tiny (and somewhat oddly-cast) role as Spock's mother, she does a creditable job.

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