“All that you know is wrong”

Long time comic book readers are used to the idea of a history reboot. After all, characters like Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and X-Men have been around for decades and as such, have accumulated a long, entangled history that makes it difficult for a newcomer to just jump into the books. There are two common ways around this dilemma: start a new book, possibly in a new universe, with familiar though not exact continuity, ala the Ultimate line (Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimates, Ultimate Powers, Ultimate Iron Man, Ultimate Hulk); or do a continuity shattering story line that give you an excuse to reboot your franchise (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Final Crisis, House of M).

Star Trek was a mix of both.

Star Trek had become quite the continuity nightmare since its initial run. After The Original Series (and its animated follow up) came the movies, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine*, more movies, Star Trek: Voyager, and Enterprise. That’s a lot of Star Trek and too much of a good—well, largely mediocre—thing can exhaust even that faithful audience. The J.J. Abrahms (Lost, Alias, Mission Impossible III) re-launch of the Star Trek franchise was clever and fun, and most importantly, free of the problems that beset most origin movies. Let’s face it, when we’re watching Spider-Man, Batman, or Iron Man, yes, the movie has to introduce us to the characters, let us get to know them (for those unfamiliar with them), but it’s just the countdown to when they put on the spandex.

“A friendship that could define you both.” –Spock

Going all the way back to their childhoods, we have James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) as the hot-head rebel without a cause balanced against the boy of two worlds/outcast of both ever-stoic Spock (Zachary Quinto, who we quickly forget is Sylar from Heroes). Abrams remains faithful to Gene Roddenberry’s creation. Pine’s Kirk has the swagger and cockiness we’ve come to expect and spends a lot of time nearly sliding off things (cliffs, platforms, etc.). Spock, aka “that pointy-eared bastard”, is given a romantic life with communications officer Uhura (Zoë Saldana), something hinted at in The Original Series episode Charlie X. (And there’s even a nod to the mishaps of being a red shirt assigned to missions with Kirk). The movie over-arching story is how these two become friends.

The rest of the movie follows the time-tripping tale of Nero (Eric Bana) returning to the Federation of Planets in order to get revenge on Spock. Which, gives us an excuse to not only get the original Spock into the story (a still spry Leonard Nimoy), but “logically” gives the movie its impetus to establish an entire new chain of events, a new/alternate reality. Well, as logical as “red matter” and making black holes can be.

There are some recurring numbers in the Bible which seem to be important, like three and seven (and twelve and forty). Star Trek: The Original Series revolved around a trinity: Kirk, Spock, and Leonard “Bones” McCoy (the professional pessimist of a ship’s doctor, now played by Karl Urban). There were other characters, but they were never especially fleshed out, little more than ciphers who we had a passing knowledge of. In the movie, we begin to have a sense of them as real characters: Uhuru (given more to do in this movie than probably the entire original series combined), Scotty (Simon Pegg stole every scene he was in), Sulu (John Cho, who brought the swashbuckling), and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin, now a 17 year old brain who brought the comedy relief and manages to not become a ghost of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation). Seven.

“You will always be a child of two worlds.” –Sarek

We all come into life with the baggage of our parents, the family which shapes and forms us. We live in the shadow of their expectations and incorporate the lessons they teach us, even the inadvertent lessons of their absence. Yet at some point, we have to break from them and become our own person and fulfill our own destiny. That’s the lesson Kirk and Spock come to terms with.

As with any continuity re-vamp, the bulk of history is still familiar (enough to please long-term fans), but the details are now up for grabs, free to change and reinterpret by writers/creators. By giving a tip of the hat to mythos, and making a point that none of the mythos are safe, Abrams makes Star Trek both exciting and relevant again. This is a big screen Star Trek, not simply an episode blown up. And it’s fun … fun, in the truest spirit of Kirk!

*And I did this entire review without once saying that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the best iteration of all of the Star Trek franchises.