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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The "Star Trek" franchise has certainly been powered by its advice to live long and prosper. The current movie is the 11th in the series, and Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has beamed down this review.

KENNETH TURAN: Here's a challenge: How do you implant an alien organism into a body that needs the implant but might die if things don't go just right? No, it's not the plot of an old "Star Trek" TV episode. It's the back story of the new "Star Trek" motion picture. It's no secret that Director J.J. Abrams was brought in to reformulate the venerable space-opera franchise that was viewed as requiring a jolt of energy. He's been successful, partially because the new film has been positioned as "Star Trek: The Young Years."

Back we go to the maiden voyage of the Starship Enterprise, and to the conversation between a young Jim Kirk and a Starfleet captain trying to get him to join up.

(Soundbite of the movie, "Star Trek")

Mr. BRUCE GREENWOOD (Actor): (As Captain Christopher Pike) Enlist in Starfleet.

Mr. CHRIS PINE (Actor): (As James T. Kirk) Enlist?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. PINE: (As James T. Kirk) You must be way down on your recruiting quota for the month.

Mr. GREENWOOD: (As Captain Christopher Pike) If you're half the man your father was, Jim, Starfleet could use you. You can be an officer in four years; you can have your own ship in eight. You understand what the Federation is, don't you? It's important. It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada.

Mr. PINE: (As James T. Kirk) Are you done?

Mr. GREENWOOD: (As Captain Christopher Pike) I'm done.

TURAN: The new "Star Trek" has come up with a serviceable, the-Earth- must-be-saved plot that involves sci-fi staples like alternate realities and black holes. There's also a tattooed, Romulan evildoer named Captain Nemo, who looks like the frontman for a nasty rock band from the north of England.

(Soundbite of the movie, "Star Trek")

(Soundbite of screaming)

(Soundbite of crashing sound)

TURAN: The plot is also the frame on which are hung the big-ticket action sequences all the Hollywood franchise movies simply have to have.

(Soundbite of the movie, "Star Trek")

TURAN: But the traditional "Star Trek" embraced a utopian world view that didn't depend on elaborate special effects for its effectiveness. Given the philosophical differences between the "Star Trek" created by Gene Roddenberry and what this movie had to include, it's amazing that the new venture works as well as it does. Live long and prosper, indeed.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times, and we review more movies, including the Atom Egoyan drama "Adoration," at npr.org.

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