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New take on Trek

Paramount came to Toronto with roughly 30 minutes of completed footagefrom its summer blockbuster reboot of Star Trek last week.

Paramount came to Toronto with roughly 30 minutes of completed footage from its summer blockbuster reboot of Star Trek last week. The preview reel opened with an intro from director J.J. Abrams (the absurdly rich creator of Alias and Lost) who openly admitted to not being a huge fan of the series.

The news isn’t great for the obsessive trekkies whose encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise can be terrifyingly thorough and purist, but it won’t necessarily be a problem for the moviegoing public at large.

From the footage screened, it seems that rather than creating a geek-centric origin story that all the die-hard fans have already written in the heads, Abrams is attempting a Casino Royale-style franchise reboot that will stay true to the established universe while also reinventing and expanding the possibilities of the series for more demanding contemporary audiences.

The sneak peak showed an updated Kirk with a far more developed sense of bad-assery than camp icon William Shatner ever brought to the role. This Kirk is a more active, arrogant, and ambitious character, unafraid to get his hands bloody.

This change in character seems to be representative of the new take on the franchise as a whole, which combines kinetic action storytelling with the classic Star Trek logic-driven allegorical sci-fi.

That said, there is still a concern that this younger, faster, sexier approach will breed a Dawson Creek In Space reboot that will lack the intellectual depth that has defined the series to this point.

While some of the actors do look like they were cast for their pretty headshots rather than acting abilities, the footage did showcase some eccentric character work from Simon Pegg that suggests some deeper three-dimensional characterizations this time around.

We won’t know if Abrams’ experiment works until the May release, but one thing is for sure: The scale and action of this film will be on a whole other level than previous Trek outings.

Abrams has come a long way since the limited but impressive action set pieces on Alias and based on the early footage, the action in his Star Trek alone will create new fans.

Whether or not that will come at the expense of alienating some members of the world’s most devoted fanbase remains to be seen, but at least it looks like this probably won’t be another Phantom Menace debacle.

 
 
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