J.J. Abrams has stretched his theory of alternate realities to the limit with his re-imagining of “Star Trek.” The reboot of this beleaguered franchise is full of elements that have been showing up in Abrams’ cult television shows, most notably “Lost” and “Fringe.” Unlike those two intriguing network endeavors, with “Star Trek,” the Hollywood wunderkind simplifies his logic so much that the resulting product is nothing more than a rock ’em sock ’em space adventure.
That is not to say the new “Star Trek” film is mindless entertainment, rather it fails to live up to the now high J.J. Abrams standard. “Fringe” has just recently clued viewers in on the possible theory of alternate realities, in which multiple scenarios are played out simultaneously. The series’ character Olivia Dunham began flashing on these other possible realities in last week’s episode. And over on “Lost,” the last few episodes have been devoted to time travel and changing the course of future events.
In both cases, the intricacies and gestation periods allow for often profound analysis and careful thought. It keeps those dedicated viewers returning week after week. And Abrams, along with a skilled set of writers, knows just how much to reveal so as not to give too much away. Sadly, “Star Trek” writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman penned a simplistic script with only faint whispers of the Abrams equation.
“Star Trek” takes the most basic concept of time travel combined with alternate realities and concocts a way to change the course of Trek lore. When an elderly Spock, reprised by Trek veteran Leonard Nimoy, jumps time through a black hole, he sets in motion a course of action that trashes most of what Trekkers have closely followed for more than 40 years.
James Kirk’s father no longer survives to see his son take helm of the starship Enterprise. The planet Vulcan implodes before the Trek quest even begins. And a young Spock loses his mother far too soon. Abrams has admitted he was not a fan of “Star Trek” while growing up and that he didn’t want to make a Trek movie, rather just a good film.
Abrams should ask himself why he decided to reinvent the Gene Roddenberry legend. Could he not have just made a kick ass sci-fli flick? After all, producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga drove the franchise into the ground with the disastrous 2001 series “Enterprise.” Their criminal handling of “Star Trek” is the single reason Abrams should have tackled this latest film. But, somewhere along the line he missed the mark.
It’s great seeing a young and sexy cast kicking things up a notch in space. Chris Pine as Kirk is that James Dean rebel with just enough heart to earn some compassion. “Heroes” star Zachary Quinto is everything a young Spock should be, emotionally conflicted and often deathly shrewd. Simon Pegg’s Scotty is a riot as is Karl Urban’s take on Dr. McCoy. And Zoe Saldana steams up the screen as a spicy Uhura. Even John Cho and Anton Yelchin turn in pleasing enough performances as Sulu and Chekov, respectively.
“Star Trek’s” visual stunts and graphics are hot. The only thing lacking in this new film is the story line. Abrams is a skilled director, and as such must take on the sequel. Paramount would be foolish to skip out on that opportunity. However, when that time comes, Abrams must be urged to adopt more of what made fans create the most powerful cult following in Hollywood. Bask in the slick glory of the first venture, but add a little more than a wink and a nod to all those Trekkers out there next time around. The future depends on it.