This week’s Entertainment Weekly has a feature article on J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek reboot. The article goes in-depth, FINALLY revealing some choice details about Star Trek’s plot, plot-twists, characters and even a cameo from an all-too-familiar face.

Better yet, the article delves into the question of how Abrams and Co. plan to reinvent Star Trek from the arcane nerd religion it is now, into a multi-million-earning, pop-culture smash–a question people like myself need answered before we hand over our hard-earned cash to see the Enterprise’s latest voyage.

Let me be up front by saying: I am not a Star Trek hater. I was born in 1981–too late to have been a fan of the original 60’s series; just in time for my father to force-feed me syndicated portions of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with dinner every night, back in the mid 90’s.

Admittedly, if not for my father’s fascist hold on  the remote during dinner, I probably would’ve never watched a single Next Generation episode in entirety. Regardless, the series made enough of an impression for me to go back and watch all four films about the original Enterprise crew released up to that point (thank you Prism for replaying The Wrath of Khan ad nauseum); the two Kirk and Co. films they  released thereafter; and all four of the Next Generation films released between 1994 and 2002. (That makes ten Stark Trek films in total, if you’re keeping count.) So while I might not qualify as an official “Trekkie,” I’m no stranger to the Trek universe.

However, my perspective is not the perspective of your average moviegoer. We live in a time when bringing up the original Transformers or G.I. Joe cartoons in a room full of teenagers will likely earn you blank stares and awkward silence. So trying to introduce the notion that there was ever a Star Trek before the bald guy in wheelchair from X-Men was in it… Well, you might as well explain it in Arabic. Add to that historical hurdle the mathematical reality that Abrams’ $150 million reboot is going to have perform on a global scale to turn a suitable profit… and, well, you begin to see how steep a hill to success Star Trek will have to climb.

So, is Captain Abrams steering his ship in the right direction? As always, the genre-defying director/producer is optimistic:

”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams…”In a world where a movie as incredibly produced as The Dark Knight is raking in gazillions of dollars, Star Trek stands in stark contrast…It was important to me that optimism be cool again.”

To further that end, Abrams’ Stark Trek is getting a sleek makeover to go along with its optimism resurgence. Just Picture the U.S.S. Enterprise re-imagined for the Ipod generation:

The Enterprise still has a saucer front section and pronged rear engines, but now comes tricked out with credibility-enhancing details. During turbulence, the crew can now grab handrails to keep from falling. And Abrams has given the blah cardboard bridge a makeover. It still has the oval shape, the captain’s chair, the giant view screen — but it’s now blazingly white and glistening with light and glass. Apple Store, anyone? ”People would joke, ‘Where’s the Genius Bar?”’ says Abrams, somewhat defensively. ”To me, the bridge is so cool, it makes the Apple Store look uncool.”

Another big change will be the phasers: where once they looked like electric razors with fancy light effects, the new phaser design is that of “silver gizmos with spring-triggered barrels that revolve and glow in the transition from ”stun” to ”kill.”

That’s all cool, if you’re a sci-fi enthusiast who likes to scrutinize every single working component of the far-fetched tech the genre is known for, but what about those who have no idea what a “phaser” is; who have no frame of context whatsoever for the phrase, “Beam me up?” For Abrams, the trick of getting Star Trek to appeal to a wider circle of moviegoers involved infusing the series with a bit of stylistic life’s blood from another hallowed sci-fi series:

‘All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” [Abrams] says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience…that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed.

”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”

(Click to continue: “J.J. Abrams Star Trek: A New Frontier“)

However, in order to emulate the mass appeal of Star Wars, while FAITHFULLY reinventing the Trek franchise, Abrams needed a script with an equal mix of high adventure, themes of racial harmony, good versus insidious evil, kick-ass F/X, eye-widening technology, a hefty dose of emotion and enough tongue-and-cheek to lighten the mood, should it get too heavy. In order to cook up a story with that many necessary ingredients, Abrams tapped some of the best cooks in Hollywood’s sci-fi kitchen, including Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof (a confessed Trekker); M:I-3 and Transformers screenwriters Bob Orci (a hardcore Trekker) and Alex Kurtzman (a quasi-Trekker like myself)–all of them longtime members of the J.J. Abrams collaborative team.

…And what a story Abrams and Co. have cooked up. We don’t do spoilers here at Screen Rant (if you want to read the full script synopsis you can do so here), but I will say that Abrams’ reboot explores the early days  when the original crew of the Enterprise first meet and set out on their mission to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” At the forefront: the fledgling bond that ultimately grows into the glorious bromance between impetuous young Captain, James T. Kirk, and his second-in-command, the stoic Vulcan, Mr. Spock. The action revolves around an imperious and warmongering alien race known as the Romulans (imagine Star Wars‘ Sith Lords crossed with LOTR’s orcs); their evil general, Nero (Eric Bana, above); and a time-travel plot-twist that results in certain members of the Enterprise bumping into a familiar face of the Star Trek universe.

Before traumatic time-warp memories of Star Trek: Generations have you tearing out your hair in patches, consider Leonard Nimoy, the original Mr. Spock’s, glowing endorsement of the film:

”I thought Spock was behind me. I had no unfulfilled wishes,” Nimoy says. But Abrams was persuasive. ”I felt J.J. and his writers had a very strong sense of who the characters were and how they should work. To find a team that was interested in putting it all back together was very exciting.”

But enough about the old: what about the new?

As you can see from the photos above, the new Enterprise crew is a pretty good embodiment of the characters that were created before some of them were even twinkles in their daddies’ eyes. Heroes’ Zachary Quinto (Spock) has already had the Spock-torch officially passed to him from  Nimoy (“I called J.J. and immediately told him [Zach] was going to work [Nimoy said].”)  Actor Chris Pine (who had that unforgettable heart-to-heart monologue with Ben Affleck’s bullet-ridden corpse in Smokin’ Aces), seems to be holding his own as well, redefining William Shatner’s Captain Kirk for a new generation. According to EW: “Watching Pine and Quinto work on set — and seeing some of their work on screen — suggests both may deliver star-making performances.”

And with co-stars such as Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Mr. Sulu), and Zoe Saldana (Uhura), who have all proven in the past that they have the necessary acting chops to do right by their characters, Star Trek is shaping up to be worthy of Abrams’ optimism–at least from a performance standpoint.

But the proof, as they say, is in the preview. Star Trek will launch its first full trailer before the next James Bond installment, Quantum of Solace, on November 14. How that trailer is received by the general public will determine who and how many line up at the theater to see the Enterprise go to warp speed when Star Trek hits theaters on May 8, 2009. (Was it prudent for Paramount to move the release date from this Christmas to next summer? Only the box office will tell.)

For now, I’ve hopefully left you fanboys and non-fanboys alike with a clearer indication of what is warping your way next May. Again, you can read the Entertainment Weekly feature in its entirety by going here, but remember, there are spoilers. When you’re ready, let us know what you think about Star Trek‘s new makeover, which installment of the series you loved best, and how you feel about Abrams and Co. waiting so long to give us a bloody peek at it!

Source: Entertainment Weekly