Star Trek - First Look

Some days there are definitely upsides to toiling in the SFX saltmine.

One of them's the chance to tuck into an official Star Trek cupcake, iced with the iconic Starfleet logo (it's sponge, Jim, but not as we know it). Another's the opportunity to be among the first people in the world to witness footage from JJ Abrams' big screen relaunch of Gene Roddenberry's baby.

Leicester Square was the venue for yesterday's exclusive presentation of clips from 2009's Star Trek, already shaping up as one of the must-see cinematic events of next summer. A nervy, witty Abrams was in London to introduce the material (and if this creative visionary lark doesn't work out then he definitely has a future in stand-up). Simon Pegg, the new Scotty, was also on hand, visibly apprehensive but barely containing his geek-glee.

We were privy to the film's freshly minted trailer as well as twenty choice minutes of clips, from a bar-brawling Jim Kirk to an astonishing, Mission: Impossible styled tactical assault on a Romulan drill, high in the skies of Vulcan (this last scene delivered visceral, heart-in-the-mouth thrills of a kind never before seen in Trek, mixing Bondish close-quarters combat with dizzying, vertiginous spectacle, perfectly showcasing Abrams' action chops).

The footage also gave us a taste of each of the movie's main players, and it's a relief to say that the casting choices seem spot-on. Chris Pine's scenes show Kirk evolving from a cocksure, loin-led stud to daredevil hero while Zachary Quinto nails Spock's simmering inner conflict (and he has a wicked eyebrow-raise). Karl Urban channels many of DeForest Kelley's mannerisms but also captures the perpetually harrassed spirit of McCoy, promoted to the USS Enterprise's chief medical officer in some very perilous circumstances ("Tell me something I don't know!"). Simon Pegg makes for a likeable, amusing, surprisingly down-at-heel Scotty but his comic relief duties seem to be shared with Anton Yelchin's sweetly winning Chekov, whose accent baffles even the Enterprise's onboard voice recognition system.

Oh, and we glimpsed Leonard Nimoy, too, looking movingly ancient. His fond reference to "an old friend" officially gave us goosebumps.

Naturally there's an initial disconnect in seeing these new faces inhabiting such familiar roles. Quinto's lack of baritone seems jarring at first. But it's amazing how quickly these newcomers win you over.

And the look of the film is hugely impressive. The Enterprise sets shift from industrial lower decks to a bustling, energised bridge crammed with crew and gleaming tech - you get the sense that this first mission is a huge, scary, adrenalised undertaking, far from the plush-carpeted, "Welcome to the Houston Hilton" vibe of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are some moments of exquisite Trek eye-candy, too - young Kirk rides his bike to the Starfleet shipyards for a glimpse of the Enterprise , shining in the night as it awaits its finishing touches.

All told it's a bigger, broader, faster, lustier incarnation of the final frontier. Sure, some of the creative choices may ruffle the diehards but it looks to be exactly the ballsy, contemporary reinvention that the franchise has been screaming out for. Above all it looks epic. It looks like Star Trek dreaming - dreaming of itself.

Oh, and the cupcakes were smashing too.

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