Watching Star Trek Into Darkness, I was blown away. Sure, the special effects are Oscar-worthy and IMAX is unbelievably immersive, but I was most impressed with the Star Trek franchise's geek to chic transformation. It’s not just 50-year-old Trekkies buying tickets for Star Trek Into Darkness but status-conscious teenagers as well. How did this happen? How can a franchise that was associated with the nerdiest of nerds, the dorkiest of dorks, the geekiest of geeks, become one of the coolest franchises after just one reboot?
Star Trek's makeover began with the hiring of J.J. Abrams, who admittedly was NOT a Trekkie but demonstrated an appreciation for sci-fi mythology on his ABC series Lost. The reinvention was supported with hot up-and-coming actors Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto, giving the movie sizzle without the actors’ reputations overshadowing the roles. As an origin story, Abrams' Star Trek didn’t require the viewer to have known anything about the franchise prior to the movie – and the script was smart, punched up with humor, and delivered surprises from beginning to end. Most of all, the film was a beautiful spectacle full of style and substance, with a modernized look that still stayed true to itself. The reboot is a blueprint for other tired franchises looking for a new boost.
In fact, refreshing forgotten franchises is the biggest business in Hollywood. Superman and The Lone Ranger are relaunching this summer and just about every old TV series, toy, video game or movie from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Tomb Raider is being brushed off as well. In fact, Abrams will take his formula and apply it to the much cooler Star Wars universe. Should the Force not be with Abrams or the other filmmakers, no worries; popular properties will always live long and prosper. Just wait five years, and reboot it again. Now, who is up for The Incredible Hulk?
Here are three films to see with the family this weekend:
1. Star Trek Into Darkness. The villain in this PG-13 space adventure has no qualms about killing people, and Captain Kirk has a particularly randy moment, but the film is all so futuristic that tweens aren’t likely to internalize the movie’s more mature moments.
2. Iron Man 3. On the other hand, Tony Stark contends with a menacing Osama bin Laden-type terrorist whose lethal methods parallel recent events. Better to take only your teens to this one.
3. The Croods. Next week, another movie for children will be in theaters. Until then, this is your choice for a film to see with the little ones.
To see what kids think about these movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.