J.J. Abrams and Star Trek: What to Expect

We are approximately six and a half months away from the May 8 release of Star Trek.

Star Trek ... that's the one with The Force, right?

Okay, I'm kidding, sort of. Truthfully, I know about as much about Star Trek as Andy Millman did when he fumbled through his meeting with Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation). But I do know an awful lot about this new Star Trek film's director, the great J.J. Abrams, and I look forward to every project he's involved in. And who wouldn't be intrigued by a movie that has room in its cast for everyone from Simon Pegg to Winona Ryder to Tyler Perry?

Whether you're already an obsessive Trekkie or not, there's no denying that Star Trek is going to be one of the big movie events of 2009. I may not know much about the final frontier, but I believe this Star Trek has to be looked at as more than just a prequel to a massively successful, multi-generational franchise. This is also a J.J. Abrams movie! And it better be a hit, after Tom Cruise and his couch-jumping antics kept audiences from seeing the terrific job Abrams did directing Mission: Impossible 3. So while I'll feel like I'm flying into partially uncharted territory when I see this movie, here are a few things I'll be expecting from it, based on what I know about J.J. Abrams:

1.) There will be a breakout star.

If there's one thing J.J. loves, it's a pretty girl who also happens to be a fabulous actress. Both Keri Russell and Jennifer Garner were declared to be "It" girls after he cast them as the leads in his TV series Felicity and Alias. Both won Golden Globe awards for their work with him, and went on to have successful movie careers after their shows ended. While Star Trek might not offer as much of a showcase for its actresses, I still have a hunch J.J. will drag a breakout performance from at least one member of this gigantic, ridiculously diverse cast. Maybe it will even be a guy this time, like newcomer Chris Pine, or the pointy-eared Zachary Quinto (who I hear is one of the few bright spots left on Heroes these days). Or maybe Star Trek will mark the big comeback Winona's been waiting for.

2.) There will be a terrifying monster you will never see.

If there's another thing J.J. Abrams loves besides pretty girls who can act, it's monsters you never see (or at least not for a long time). He helped create pure terror in Cloverfield and on his best TV series, Lost, by showing us the people frightened by the monster instead of the monster itself. I can't wait to see what kind of freakiness he'll be able to dream up with all of space as his landscape.

3.) It will end with a cliffhanger.

There are very few franchises in the history of film and television that have been able to reinvent themselves as often and as successfully as Star Trek, so there's no way Paramount is expecting this movie to be a one-shot deal. Even if a sequel wasn't already practically guaranteed, I doubt J.J. would give it a real ending. His patented cliffhangers from Alias and Lost were some of the greatest moments of suspense in recent TV history. Even on Felicity he had a whole nation wondering about the great Ben-versus-Noel summer cliffhanger of 1999. If he goes the cliffhanger route again, and I doubt he could resist, some fans may leave feeling frustrated. But don't worry. Because one of the greatest things about being a fan of J.J. Abrams is knowing that no matter how crazy the cliffhanger he leaves you with, he almost always comes back with an equally awesome conclusion.

What are you most looking forward to about Star Trek? Do you agree that J.J. is the man for the job, or will he leave this franchise lost in space?