Star Trek

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Director: JJ Abrams; Release date: 8 May

The creator of television's Lost and Alias has been brought in to breathe new life into the tired Star Trek franchise. He has probably succeeded. The film works as an action adventure from the spectacular opening space battle, even though the plot is full of holes and occasionally near incomprehensible.

The original iconic crew of the Starship Enterprise are introduced again. The recast Kirk, Spock and companions have yet to graduate from learning to fly spaceships at Star Fleet academy on Earth.

The original TV series had the confidence of Kennedy-era liberals, before the trauma of Vietnam. This future was a liberal fantasy of United Nations expansion: the benign Federation rules a relatively peaceful galaxy.

They were free to boldly go and explore the fringes of known space, and to encounter the distant threat of two evil empires, the vaguely Russian Klingons or the vaguely Chinese Romulans. Space was the final frontier evoking what was the manifest destiny of the US and the taming of the West.

The new film utilises a favourite plot device - time travellers coming back in time and changing history. Here a group of Romulans come back and destroy a starship, causing enormous distress, but the bad guys are only biding their time. They are planning a much more spectacular attack which changes things dramatically.

These are rogue Romulans. They don't represent any government and cannot be reasoned with. They are fanatics who have misunderstood the Federation's benign role in history.

This is a familiar universe where many a red-shirted security guard will get zapped and the odd spaceship will get destroyed - but now the Federation has taken major casualties. It is more overtly militaristic in its outlook.

This is a more militarist post-9/11 Star Trek. Admittedly the militarism was always there - for an exploration vehicle the Enterprise is very heavily armed.

Like James Bond in Casino Royale we have a grittier retooling for the new century, and so far there is little evidence that this will include the questioning voice that has made much recent US television so interesting.

Cinema and TV are crowded with remakes. Tried and trusted franchises win out over attempts at anything new. For all its dated assumptions, the original Star Trek was like nothing that had been on television before.

It's nice to see a fresher Star Trek film that reinvigorates the characters, but it would be nicer to see something as original as the series was when it began.