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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
By the mid-2000s, the Star Trek franchise fell from popularity. Many were predicting the franchise would be resting for a long, long time. Then, in 2006, it was quite the surprise when Paramount announced that JJ Abrams (of Lost fame) was tasked with essentially rebooting the series with a new big-budget tent-pole movie.
Simply titled Star Trek, Abrams delivered on his promise to make Star Trek cool again. With great critical acclaim, this film was also the most profitable Trek film ever (even after adjusting for inflation). It was a proven success by pleasing Trekkers and casual movie-goers alike. But, big box-office winners also include things like Transformers and Twilight. Did Star Trek deserve its success?
The answer is “yes”. It gives you everything one could possibly want from a Star Trek movie: action, adventure, humor, romance, etc. Granted, it does not delve much into any allegory or philosophical issues Star Trek is known for. But, you know what? Most of the Trek episodes out there do not either. Most, like this movie, were straight-up adventures.
Truth of the matter is that it had to be. A mainstream film cannot speak to a niche audience if it wants to be successful. It just can’t. Star Trek Nemesis somewhat proved that point. Abrams did what was needed to make Trek viable as a success again for today’s audiences. It worked. And since it did, he can maybe bring back that allegorical stuff in a follow-up.
Now, not everything works. There is a lot of convenience in the storytelling and some very questionable story choices. For example, Kirk (Chris Pine) going from a cadet to captain in less than a week took me out of the movie for a bit. The biggest issue I had with the movie is that it forces itself (and it is forced) to make a connection with everything that came before. It is a completely unneeded bone to the angry fanboy crowd. The movie would have been stronger without it (and less convoluted). Honestly, though, all of these are just little things and not deal breakers in the least.
Star Trek was a success no matter how you cut it. It did the job it set out to do by making Star Trek cool again and introducing it to a whole new generation. Why would any Star Trek fan be against that?
Edited to add: Be sure to check out our commentary track for Star Trek!