There was seemingly no good reason to revisit the Star Trek series. Thousands of hours of crappy television shows and deflated movies—not one interesting Star Trek movie has been made since 1986's The Voyage Home, the campy-but- energetic fourth installment in the series—had taken their toll. The property had fallen into the hands of fans-turned-pros who were strangulating the premise with their adulation. But J. J. Abrams has somehow managed to create the second-best entry in the series (after The Wrath of Khan) and completely revitalize the premise for the 21st century.

It's almost impossible to envision a better reintroduction. The casting is perfect, from Chris Pine's arrogant, aggressive James T. Kirk to Karl Urban's weary, outraged Bones McCoy to, especially, Zachary Quinto's eerily spot-on Spock. Formerly listless characters like Uhura and Chekov now have a purpose and a drive to round them out. Star Trek's plot, involving time travel and a nefarious evil Romulan named Nero (played to the hilt of snarling, summer-movie villainy by a marble-mouthed Eric Bana) has to squeeze a lot in. Every character has to say his catchphrase at least once, and the previous generation—here represented by Leonard Nimoy—has to pass the torch in a thoughtful, reverential way. Somehow, it all works.

There's some muddle in the third act, and Abrams tries a little too hard with his camerawork, especially when he unnecessarily bedazzles the bridge scenes with an annoying lens-flare effect, but none of that really matters. What matters is that this is an adventurous, fun, and sexy movie that's willing to laugh and let its audience in on the joke, too. It's literally been decades since a Star Trek movie has tried to seduce a general audience, and with Abrams's guidance, we realize that the basic concept of Star Trek is a timeless, hugely entertaining one, and well worth revisiting. Even before the closing credits roll, you'll be hoping for a sequel. recommended