If you were a Star Trek fan growing up, or even have general appreciation of the original TV series, you will be extremely happy with this film.
If you are not familiar with Star Trek but enjoy action-oriented science-fiction films, then you will also be happy with this. No previous knowledge of the other Star Trek movies or TV shows is required for you to understand what’s going on in J.J. Abrams’ respectfully-created tribute to the original source material.
Would it help to know a little something about the characters beforehand? Yes, but only if you want to appreciate the in-jokes that were put in for the Trek fans (Trekkers and Trekkies alike). Some of those sitting next to me didn’t have any Star Trek background, so while they may not have laughed and cheered at the same things the Trek fans in the audience were, they didn’t feel left out on missing out as they knew it wasn’t aimed at them. Afterwards, they confirmed that not having that Star Trek knowledge did not detract from their enjoyment of the film.
The cast look and act the part of the characters that we would see as they grow older on the show and in the other Trek films. The dialogue was equally amusing with all characters getting an opportunity to say their signature lines. While filled with action, this is not a serious film – it’s meant to be enjoyed throughout. About halfway through the film, when the action really kicked in, the movie began to feel comfortable like an extended (big budget) TV episode. This is a compliment, as Abrams and his crew didn’t make the film bigger than it needed to be.
I appreciated that Michael Giacchino incorporated the original theme music throughout his soundtrack, and in major action scenes used music reminiscent of the cheesy “suspenseful fight music” used on the TV show. Well done for the nostalgia buffs.
Comparisons to Star Wars are already being made, and Abrams freely admits that he is a huge Star Wars fan. After the film, it occurred to me Abrams’ Star Trek felt a lot like that original Star Wars film did when it first came out – you felt like you saw something that could go on for many, many years to come. You get the formal introduction of the characters without the need to explain who everyone is, the good-vs-bad plot is not overly complicated, and the film successfully addresses both audiences: the older crowd already familiar with the original material, and the younger crowd who needs the introduction into the Trek world.
I only have one complaint about this Star Trek outing, and it’s nothing serious: the soundtrack at the beginning of the film sounded warbly, as if the music was out-of-sync with the visuals like one of those grade-school science films we had growing up, or like the bad music tracks purposefully used in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse. I found it distracting enough to notice it throughout the entire film whenever it occurred. Others noticed it at first as well, but were able to ignore it for the rest of the film. YMMV.
Are there inconsistencies that only Trek fans would notice? Sure. But they are all minor to the overall enjoyment of the film (and, as one review that listed said inconsistencies pointed out, this could possibly be the best Star Trek film ever). I am kicking myself for not being as eagle-eyed as I could be, for I missed seeing a Tribble in the background of one scene, and one or two other things I wanted to notice.
That only means that I’m going to have to see it again.