Ed reviews the new "Star Trek" 

You don't have to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy this rollicking movie. J.J. Abrams' reboot of the 1966 TV space adventure series is fast-paced, action-packed and lots of fun. Abrams (Lost, Alias, Cloverfield, Mission Impossible III) recognized that after six TV series (including the animated one) and 10 movies, the lucrative franchise had run out of gas, in part due to a tired creative team and Trek's massive, unwieldy mythology. So he went back to the beginning. He knew that people were sick of convoluted plots and technobabble, so he focused on re-introductions, action, drama and humor, with only a little convolution and gobbledygook.

The film opens with a space battle and a birth, then jumps ahead to offer a glimpse at the formative years of James T. Kirk and Robert B. Spock (I could be wrong about Spock's first name and middle initial). Kirk's a rebel, Spock's a picked-on kid willing to clean the clocks of his tormentors. Cut to Star Fleet Academy in San Francisco, where most of the main cast makes their first adult appearances. In short order, the wet-behind-the-ears crew end up on a mission aboard the newly-built Enterprise, facing off against a guy (Eric Bana, glowering, shouting and forgettable in heavy alien makeup) bent on big-time revenge. Oh, and there's some time travel bullshit so that Leonard Nimoy can reprise his role as Spock to add a welcome link between the old and the new.

But don't worry about the plot. Just sit back and roll with the movie. This one's designed to entertain the widest possible audience while giving viewers just enough characterization to reestablish the crew and create some sparks. There will be time for deeper characterization and a more in-depth look at the starship Enterprise in the sequels.

About the cast: Chris Pine (whose daddy Robert was Ponch and Jon's helmet-haired boss on CHiPS) makes an appealing Kirk, nicely capturing the cockiness of the impulsive, impassioned adventurer and horndog. Zachary Quinto, one of the few good things about the wretched TV series Heroes, is right on the money as young Spock. He looks perfect and excels at portraying an angry, hurt man straining to repress his emotions. Zoe Saldana's Uhuru is smart, self-assured and sultry - can't wait to get to know her better in the sequels.

As cranky doctor Leonard McCoy, Karl Urban deftly captures the inflections and mannerisms of original series actor DeForest Kelley without ever seeming like he's doing an impression. Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead shows up midway through the film as engineering whiz Scotty, milking his part mostly for laughs. John Cho (Harold and Kumar) and Anton Yelchin are given little to do as Sulu and Chekov except play off their characters' one-note back-stories from the TV show. (Sulu likes fencing, Chekov's has a thick Russian accent. Period.) Again, wait till the sequels.

Hard-core fans will note a few striking changes between the film and the original, courtesy of the time travel establishment of an alternate reality. I liked most of the changes, but I wonder why Spock, who dukes it out with bullies taunting him over his biracial heritage early in the film, doesn't punch McCoy in the face the first time he starts his "you pointy-eared, green-blooded ..." anti-Vulcan yapping. But then, I've wondered why McCoy wasn't called out for his racism since 1966.

Star Trek was known for messages and moralizing. The reboot is satisfied to reiterate creator Gene Roddenberry's original idea: There will be a future. Though bigotry will persist, we will all get along much better. Life will be filled with adventure. Hope survives. And so does Star Trek. If they can build on what they've done here, count me in for the sequels.

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Ed Johnson-Ott

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