The 2009 blockbuster season continues with the eleventh entry in the Star Trek film franchise. Could this be the film that finally reverses the odd numbered film curse? Intended as a reboot for the franchise, the film uses the familiar time (worn) travel plot device to transport us back to the beginning of the careers of Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew. The nemesis they must face as fresh faced cadets is Nero, a time-traveling Romulan upset that his home planet was allowed to be destroyed by a star gone super nova.
Nero presents the major problem I have with the film; based on the rare bits of dialogue he is given, he wants revenge on the Federation for letting his home world be destroyed, effectively dooming his race. Fate has flung him back in time, long before the Federation were powerful and long before the danger to his planet. His grand plan for revenge is to destroy every planet that has joined the Federation. Really? You would not rather share your future technology and knowledge with your home planet thus ensuring their safety and allowing them to enslave all those you feel wronged you?
Also bothersome was the need to make overt references to the past series. It felt too forced, too much “Hey look… we love the old series, and here are your favorite references to prove it!” A prime example is an exchange between Kirk and Sulu; they have just barely met and are on their way to a hand-to-hand combat situation. Kirk asks Sulu what sort of advanced combat training he has had; the reply is "fencing". How much more effective it would have been to remove that line and simply let Sulu brandish his sword. The long time Trek fans would pick up on the reference, and those new to the franchise, the audience this film is ultimately trying to draw, would simply see a really cool, albeit stereotypical, character on screen kicking some Romulan ass.
If I put aside these irritations, this is a decent film that gives the franchise the kick in the pants it needs to hopefully move forward and start exploring interesting ground again. These are not the same characters most of us grew up with, not the same universe we saw them exploring. Hopefully, the next film in the franchise will capitalize and let them reproduce what made the original series endure – using the future to hold up a mirror to our present.