Star Trek Meekly Goes Where Other Movies Have Gone Before

One thing that could have made all of the action scenes more interesting would have been a leading man with a rakish glow. As Spock, Zachary Quinto is fine, but it's a largely thankless part. C-3PO had more chances to act, and it's hard to picture little girls craving news on who Quinto's dating. As for Kirk, he's played by Chris Pine. Who? He's not just an unknown. He's an unknown unknown. Casting a big-budget movie that largely depends on the charisma of a guy who isn't one of the top 1,000 actors in Hollywood was a gamble that seemingly indicates Abrams wanted no name to upstage his on the marquee, and he got his wish. Chris Pine wants to be Tom Cruise but he isn't even Mark Hamill. The special effects save him to a degree, but Pine doesn't hold your attention. He's handsome in such an unremarkable way as to suggest he should be playing the second-oldest brother in a prime-time soap about a large family. Many an actor who never quite made it on the big screen -- Charlie Sheen, say -- has ten times the devilish charm of Chris Pine.

Pine is symptomatic of the essence of J.J. Abrams: He has a TV soul. He casts TV-ish actors. The staging of his thrill sequences is fine for the small screen but light years shy of real masters like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, or Paul Greengrass. And he loves TV writers, workaday scribes like this script's authors  -- Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Lost). They are not, to put it politely, overly-burdened with talent. They got started on stuff like Xena: Warrior Princess and to a degree they're still there. So when they attempt wit, all that comes out is camp. Meeting Uhura, a linguist, Kirk says, "You've got a talented tongue." The writers' idea of a snappy comeback is "Tell me something I don't know."  Their notion of characterization is to throw the word "logical" into every line Spock delivers and they actually include the lines "I'd like to kick some Romulan ass!" and "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?"

Trekkies emerging from the theater were heard murmuring things like, "It's great that it was kinda campy, just like the show." That's making a virtue out of necessity. If Abrams and his writers knew how to create something as fiercely non-campy as The Dark Knight, don't you think they would?

Star Trek

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana

2.5 stars/ 4

127 minutes/Rated PG-13