Live Long J.J.
Just a warning: Spoilers for the new "Star Trek" film ahead.
I am a life-long Star Trek fan. I remember being 5 years old sitting in front of a TV with my grandmother's neighbor in Florida. Jack was a stoner before they'd coined the term, a beach bum who was the best babysitter I ever had, not only because he was smart, funny and laidback, but because he started me on a lifelong journey into space, the final frontier.
Every afternoon, we'd watch "Star Trek," and those episodes shaped my view of the world. I grew up believing that eventually humans would unite and travel into outer space, that we'd discover new life and new civilizations. That we would boldly go where no one (yes, I'm going with Jean-Luc) has gone before.
My favorite episodes include "Shore Leave," "Miri," "City on the Edge of Forever" and "Amok Time." I particularly love the episodes involving time travel, like "City on the Edge of Forever," "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and "All Our Yesterdays," because of their rule-bending and mind-bending qualities. (I love "Lost" for the same reason.)
My absolute favorite episode of any "Trek" series is "Next Gen's" "Yesterday's Enterprise." The way the writers made the time-travel aspect believable and in the process brought back one of my favorite characters sealed the deal.
Friday, I saw J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot. I didn't know much about the plot because I wanted to watch the film without someone else's ideas in my head. Good choice. It allowed me to fall in love all over again with Kirk and Spock without a reviewer telling me why. And when I went again Monday afternoon, it confirmed my feelings.
Chris Pine has the requisite bravado for Kirk but it's the resolution in his eyes that drew me to him, the complete willingness to give over to the character. Shatner never had that. He was all bluster and horndog glee, the twinkle in his eye a knowing wink at the audience that this was all a big game.
Which is probably why Leonard Nimoy's Spock resonated more. He was Spock. He lived and played a man of two worlds who, over the course of his career, I think, finally grew comfortable living in those worlds: human and Vulcan, real life and film career. Zachary Quinto is the perfect choice to play his younger self. He adds more human to his Spock. You see the raw passion seething under the icy exterior at all times. I like it. Call me crazy.
I love Karl Urban as Bones, though no one will ever replace DeForest Kelly. Maybe in a few years, Urban will grow into the irascible doctor's shoes but for now he's still second best. That's not a bad place to be. Simon Pegg's Scotty adds the irreverent edge missing from Pine's Kirk, and Anton Yelchin's Chekov and John Cho's Sulu are going to be fun characters to get to know again.
One disappointment, the lack of screen time for Zoe Saldana's Uhuru. As a child, I didn't realize how much of a leap it was for some to grasp the concept of a black woman in that role. I only knew I wanted to see more of her and Nurse Chappel, the only woman able to stand up to Bones. I'm hoping both get ample screen time next time around.
Because I'm sure there will be a next time around. The inventive way screenwriters Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman have found to wipe clean Trek's history gives the audience the chance to see the characters develop in a whole new direction while keeping their core characteristics in place.
Finally, I don't think the film would have been as fresh or exciting without JJ Abrams. His ability to infuse a light touch in a dark moment and instill heartbreak in fast-paced action is a gift as is his willingness to screw with a legend and do it in such a major way. I love how the film melds old and new until it become something wholly different yet still recognizable.
But next time, JJ, I want to see Greg Grunberg.