Rarely does a sequel really outdo the first film in a franchise, but the reboot of the Star Trek film franchise is seeking to echo the 1979 and 1982 films that began the big screen adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise. Back then the first Star Trek: the Motion Picture was a rambling mess, and almost tanked the project to continue the voyages on-screen. But, learning from their mistakes, the producers borrowed from one of the best scripts and episodes of the original series, entitled Space Seed, and created a timeless masterpiece, one of the greatest movie sequels ever, the unforgettable Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan. Helping make Khan fantastic was the charisma of screen legend Ricardo Montalban in the role.
Flash forward to the 21st century J.J. Abrams reboot of the 24th century story, and we find Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain of the piece. An inspired choice, as Cumberbatch has a legion of followers from his work as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock. His role as John Harrison will long be remembered as one of the most formidable foes ever created for a science –fiction film, and viewers will be thrilled to watch his action on-screen.
The story is basically about the developing relationships among the Starfleet personnel we met in the 2009 film, Star Trek. Chris Pine is superb as James Tiberius Kirk, reviving and inhabiting the role he was born for; Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy are both perfect as Spock; Zoe Saldana’s Nyota Uhura is spot-on; Simon Pegg is the quintessential new Scotty, Karl Urban is Bones, and John Cho and Anton Yelchin are great as the new Hikaru Sulu and Pavel Chekov. Beyond the bridge command officers, Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller are great as Starfleet brass with major impact on the story line.
About that story line: you may already know who John Harrison really is, in one of the worst-kept secrets in movie history. Harrison employs Thomas Harewood, played by fan-favorite Noel Clarke, known to fans of Doctor Who as Rose Tyler’s and later Martha Jones’ beau Mickey Smith, to blow up a Starfleet facility. That leads to an attack on the heart of Starfleet’s command officers, and a hunt to bring Harrison to justice. After Kirk and Spock grow their bromance, Kirk makes a decision that winds up bringing Harrison into a position to really wreak havoc on Earth. A stunning sacrifice revisits the events of the 1st sequel (Wrath of Khan). The writing of Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci and Damon Lindelof deliver twists and turns that will delight and astound the most ardent Trekker or even the casual moviegoer.
Alice Eve is a welcome addition to the cast, as Dr. Carol Marcus, who plays a major role in Trek canon, as her character was the mother of Kirk’s son in the earlier movie franchise. The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.