So why are we so excited about Star Trek XI (yes, 11 for those who don't read Roman)? We’re not exactly Trekkies after all. Some of us used to watch the original Gene Roddenberry series when we were kids and would confess to enjoying the styling of the old Enterprise uniforms, even if we were never quite sure why some crew members wore mustard yellow sweaters, some red and others blue. The various spin-offs did nothing for us, however; the alien baddies seemed to become mobile monuments to the power of low-budget prosthetics, while Patrick Stewart, who succeeded Kirk as the main man on the Enterprise, spoke with the stentorian tones of a classically trained Shakespearian actor, which of course he was (and still is).
Well, the renewed wave of anticipation is chiefly down to JJ Abrams, the creative force behind Lost and Cloverfield. And having been in the first UK audience to watch the new film, we can confirm that Abrams has pulled it off in style, taking us back to the early days of Starfleet as the young, impulsive, rebellious cadet James T Kirk (Chris Pine) meets a similarly youthful Spock (Zachary Quinto) for the first time. The story focuses on how their friendship is forged against the backdrop of the threat to the galaxy posed by the vengeful, and the suitably prosthetically-enhanced Nero (Eric Bana).
But the story is almost secondary. This is a summer blockbuster that delivers. From the staggering opening battle sequence, which sets a new standard for space CGI, to the biblical conclusion you're barely left time to draw breath. Other set pieces, including the memorable scene where Kirk freefalls from the Enterprise in a bid to thwart Nero’s bid to destroy Planet Vulcan, are brilliantly handled, while the genesis and development of characters now familiar to all are credible. But perhaps it is the generous dollops of irreverence that keep those of us who do not possess a Phd in Vulcan from disappearing into the cataclysmic black holes engineered by the vengeful Nero. Blimey, even Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, makes an appearance, but we won’t ruin it by revealing how.
Many big-budget action films turn out to be less than the sum of their parts, but Star Trek, happily, is not one of them. A great director, a quality cast of emerging stars (including our own Simon Pegg as Scottie) and a perfectly pitched, fast-paced storyline demands, ahem, that you teleport yourselves to a cinema soon. Out May 8