Review: Star Trek is Big, Big Fun at the Movies

"You're going to dig this, I just know it."

To its eternal credit, Star Trek has taken the road less fan-influenced this summer. J.J. Abrams decided, somewhere in his bold little television heart, that he would just make a good movie. He wouldn't troll the blogs (Hi, Twilight!) or add in characters the fans wanted (Spider-Man 3, your table is waiting). No, counterintuitively, he'd start with a good script. Then he'd cast good actors. Finally, he'd place the emphasis of his film on building character relationships. This odd, crazy, zany, and brutally effective method has allowed to him to create what will end up as one of the most accessible and entertaining films of the year. Nice!

Star Trek starts off fast, slows down a bit for a few laughs, and then furiously culminates ... but not before setting up the franchise for the next decade. At its Treky heart, this is an origin story: how Captain Kirk got to the Enterprise, and how his good pals Scotty, Spock, Uhura, "Bones" McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov came to join him on that iconic vessel. We're transported to a time before the entire Shatner mythologies, with Chris Pine taking the helm as the new Kirk. He's very, very good in this film, far better than I've seen him, and his performance here gives me a lot of hope for the compulsory sequels.

Who else is good? Pretty much everyone. Zachary Quinto isn't Nimoy, but he's a new Spock for a new era. Zoe Saldana is a fantastic and textured update on Uhura. I particularly enjoyed Anton Yelchin's Chekov; he's instantly likable. Simon Pegg doesn't get a ton of screen time, but he makes the most of what he's given as the new Scotty. Whoever cast this film should give themselves a big pat on the back. It's rare that you get an across-the-board win, but that's exactly what happened here.

The pacing of Star Trek is also excellent. It's not at all plodding, and it weaves in elements that heretofore haven't been part of the Star Trek playbook. There's skydiving, car chase scenes, guys hanging from platforms by their fingernails, and Tyler Perry. That's fun, right? You're going to dig this, I just know it. Then you'll thank me. Then we'll finally be a family.

What do we want from our summer movies? Fun-o-tainment. We want to be taken away to another world (check) that's much like our own (check). We want great characters (check) that teach us something along the way (check). We want action. And suspense (check, check). We want to feel like the people involved with the film care as much about movies as we do. Which happened here. It's a beautiful thing when a plan comes together, when that delicate marriage of big budgets and studio interference somehow bends to the will of a superior director. spends a lot of time telling you what you shouldn't waste money on ... so it's with great joy and conviction that I urge you to invest in Star Trek. It's big fun.

Grade: A