"Star Trek" aims to stun fans
By Frank Simons
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When director J.J. Abrams dreamed up the new "Star Trek" movie, he took the prologue to the original television series to mind, and at least one key person approves -- Mr. Logical himself, Spock.
For new "Trekkies" -- and there will likely be many when the movie debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday -- the 1960s TV show started with a prologue about the voyages of the starship Enterprise and its crew that would "boldly go where no (one) has gone before" in the "final frontier" of space.
To reignite the franchise that spawned five TV series and 10 movies over roughly 40 years, Abrams has done exactly that -- gone where no other "Star Trek" storyteller had gone before -- with a tale of how Captain James T. Kirk, Dr. "Bones" McCoy and the Vulcan Mr. Spock came to be shipmates.
But changing the "canon" -- events and characters that shape "Star Trek" lore -- could leave legions of old "Trekkies" thinking Abrams had done something "highly illogical," as Spock might have once said. Old Spock Leonard Nimoy begs to differ.
"Canon is only important to certain people because they have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae," Nimoy told Reuters. "Open your mind! Be a 'Star Trek' fan and open your mind and say, 'Where does Star Trek want to take me now'."
Where will audiences be taken? Backward is the way ahead.
They will learn confident Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) was a brawling bad boy from Iowa who joins the Star Fleet Academy, and beats the impossible "no win" simulator test that was dreamed up by the young and "logical" Spock (Zachary Quinto).
Together with crew mates McCoy, Nyota Uhura, Hikaru Sulu, Pavel Chekov and engineer Scotty, they board the Enterprise as young men and women on their first adventure in space.
The film, produced by Viacom Inc's Paramount pictures, moves at warp speed as the crew engages the villain Nero (Eric Bana) who has an eye for evil.
'GREAT JOB,' SAYS SPOCK
Nimoy, 78, is the only actor from the original TV series and "Star Trek" movies to also claim a role in the new film, playing Spock Prime, who helps set in motion the new future.
He heaped praise on the 31-year-old Quinto for taking Spock in a new direction as he first despises Kirk then grows to have a grudging respect for the man that will become his captain.
"I couldn't have improved on what he did," Nimoy said. "He did a great job, a great job, and I admire his choices."
After more than 40 years, Nimoy seems to have reached a comfort level with the character from whom he once wanted to distance himself. Nimoy even wrote one book called "I Am Not Spock", but later followed it with, "I Am Spock".
Nimoy was "ready to play the wise old character that hands down some help and philosophy to the young people", he said. "Settled, resolved, comfortable ... The Spock I played in this movie is pretty much me. Pretty much where I am in my life."
Whether fans settle for the new "Star Trek" awaits Friday's debut, but among comments at www.trekspace.org was this from Ben J Grimm: "I simply REFUSE to support ParaMOUND in their DEGRADATION of my beloved STAR TREK."
So "Grimm" may be disappointed in early reviews because "Star Trek" is winning raves. At review aggregator rottentomatoes.com, the movie rates a 100 percent positive.
The Hollywood Reporter says "all the familiar characters are instantly identifiable, the film gives Paramount Pictures a new lease of life on its franchise."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)