Trekkies across Northern Ireland are gearing up to join the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage as the 11th movie in the franchise opens in cinemas today.
Directed by JJ Abrams, the new blockbuster aims to broaden the appeal of the cult sci-fi classic while staying true to its origins.
The movie stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Eric Bana as Nero and Simon Pegg as Scotty. The original Spock — Leonard Nimoy — also makes an appearance.
The franchise’s faithful following will be packing into cinemas across the UK and Ireland to see if it has retained its old magic.
One local Trekkie, Rev Mark Brown of Granshaw Presbyterian Church, said he would not miss the new movie and told how the old television series held fond memories for him.
“I rememer when I was about seven or eight my dad calling me into the room and asked me did I notice anything different about the television,” he said. “That was the first time I’d seen it in colour and it was Captain Kirk onboard the Starship Enterprise.
“Myself and my dad would sit together and watch the show. Everything else stopped around us for that time.
“I guess I’ve been fascinated by Star Trek since then. I have the entire original series on DVD and will definitely be going to see the new movie. It was part of my childhood and I feel very nostalgic about it.
“The series also raised a lot of relevant questions about creation and tackled issues like inter-racial relationships. I think it was really ahead of its time.”
Paul Doherty, lead singer with Sixties-influenced Belfast band The Vals, said he believed the new movie was the most faithful to the original series and that it would introduce Captain Kirk and co to a new generation of fans.
“I think the film-makers have done justice to the franchise with this new movie and I'm really looking forward to going and seeing it. This movie will hopefully bring about a new generation of Trekkies which is definitely a good thing. Long may it last. After all, Star Trek came way before Star Wars.”
Paul, who said he hoped to don a Star Trek costume for the film’s release, said he used to get teased at school about his obsession with all things Sixties and his love for Star Trek.
“When I was at school no-one really got my mod-ish haircut and I was often called ‘Spock'... I suppose the ears didn't help either!” he joked.
Diehard Star Trek fan Malachy Coney, manager of the Forbidden Planet in Belfast, said he had seen a trailer for the movie, which he described as “jaw-dropping”.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a few years to tell you the truth,” he said.
“The franchise went into a slump after (the 10th movie) Nemesis. It was badly marketed and was released the same weekend as Lord Of The Rings II.
“This, however, looks like it’s going to be a huge success. JJ Abrams has been brought in to breathe new life into it. The Enterprise is coming back bigger and better than ever. They’ll need to get a restraining order to keep me away.”
Malachy said the old Star Trek series had provided him with much light relief during dark times growing up in the Troubles.
“It give us a glimpse of a brighter, more optimistic future, something we could aspire to,” he said.
‘BEST SCI-FI MOVIE IN YEARS’
Local movie buff Karl Higgins has described the new Star Trek blockbuster as “outstanding” after seeing a preview at the Odeon Cinema in Belfast.
The 35-year-old film fan said it was the best sci-fi movie to be released in several years.
“I thought it was great. The films had been going downhill since First Contact and the latest TV show Enterprise failed to bring in new fans, so it pretty much looked like Star Trek was dead in the water,” he said.
“Enter goldenboy JJ Abrams and his vision to take it in a whole new direction while still paying homage to its legion of fans has paid off big style. The cast perfectly captures the essence of the old crew while appealing to a new generation and every actor in it is great, with Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) providing the best performances.
“It’s one of the best sci-fi films to come out since Serenity (2005). I can’t wait for the inevitable two sequels now.”