It has been ten years since J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek universe. Having lost its way with the lacklustre prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise, the show languished in the bowels of Paramount like a depleted dilithium crystal. Who better to bring it to a new (next) generation of fans – and begrudgingly, a number of those old school Trekkies – than the man who breathed fresh life into the Mission: Impossible franchise and TV wunderkind, J.J. Abrams.
Although it’s only been a decade since Abrams beamed those hugely iconic members of the Enterprise back on-board in his rip-roaring, breakneck space action adventure, the film itself has influenced the pop culture landscape more than some might realise. It was one of the earliest films to use reboot as a marketing term and a means of differentiating material from that of a remake. It paved the way for the action-orientated small screen Discovery spin-off, and Abrams’ shimmering lens flare aesthetic was subsequently borrowing and used across a whole host of sci-fi material.
It’s also obvious that Abrams’ success brought him the reins to an even grander SF franchise and gave him the confidence to ensure Star Wars was relaunched without a hitch. 2009’s Star Trek was a game changer, and it’s to Abrams’ credit that he imbued the project with such fun, converting non-Trekkies in the process.
Looking back, it remains an expertly made piece of escapism which never gets clogged up in the alternate timeline conceit. The casting is close to perfect – why isn’t the fabulous Zachary Quinto on the same A-list trajectory as fellow shipmate Chris Pine? – and this is a film where the effects can be justifiably labelled as ‘special’. Seeing the Enterprise in long shot, escaping from the pull of a huge worm-hole and those warp-speed sequences are truly awe-inspiring.
If Abrams used up some of the goodwill amassed from the first film with the ill-advised retread back into Khan country in the deeply disappointing Star Trek Into Darkness, it was a minor blip on an otherwise vigorous and exciting resurrection of the Trek brand. The under-performing third entry, Star Trek Beyond, might have temporarily stalled plans for another big-screen exploit, but with Star Trek: Discovery proving a huge hit with TV audiences, the future looks bright for the franchise. With the return of Jean-Luc Picard in the offing, and whispers of yet another small screen title on the horizon, it’s clear why the head honchos at Paramount initially placed their trust in J.J. Abrams to take things to warp speed 10.