By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published May 09, 2009 at 1:24 PM

J.J. Abrams had a tall task when he set out to make the new "Star Trek" movie. First, the creator of "Lost" had to restart a proud, but sagging franchise. And second, he had to do it in a way that pleased both Trekkies and newbies, alike. Much like Daniel Craig breathed new life into James Bond, Abrams made it work, pulling off a prequel that is both plausible and action-packed, canonical (to a point) yet fresh.

Abrams version of "Star Trek" starts in the years before Capt. Kirk and his crew set foot on the U.S.S. Enterprise. It shows how the group was assembled, and what got the young group of officers into Starfleet. For those familiar with the Star Trek universe, much of this feels familiar enough. From Kirk's upbringing in Iowa, to his reprogramming of the Kobayashi Maru, to the young Spock on Vulcan, Abrams film, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is true enough to the Trek legend to feel legit.

Further, its cast is believable, too. Chris Pine works as a young and reckless Kirk, while Zachary Quinto's Spock feels seamless from Leonard Nemoy's portrayal. Abrams clearly sexed up the role with Zoe Saldana as Uhura, though the rest of the crew, particularly Karl Urban as McCoy feels really consistent with the original actors.

The production value, too, makes "Star Trek" believable as a prequel. From the juiced up color saturation on the bridge of the Enterprise, to the barely modified uniforms, ships and weapons, Abrams gave the movie a retro-futuristic feel. The film certainly looks like it takes place in the future, though it gives so many nods to a series created 50 years ago. It's a delicate dance performed eloquently.

The plot, itself, gets a little funky, which isn't that unusual if you're familiar with Abrams' work on "Lost." A straightforward story takes a confusing right turn about half-way through, introducing time travel and a cameo from Nemoy, himself. The concept of time travel is nothing new in the Star Trek world, but using the alternative timeline to reboot the series - allowing future movies to go in whichever direct they want - seems like the easy way out. And Abrams' inability to find a way to include William Shatner in at least a cameo is weak. If the time-space continuum is out the window, then why not?

Also, the movie is loaded with action and fight scenes -- far more than any other Trek movie. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the franchise's survivability will rest upon whether fans feel like Trek is more chic than geek.

"Star Trek" does manage to keep its sense of humor throughout, too. In a packed preview audience, rabid Trekkies roared with laughter and applause (even at jokes that would cause most of us to just smile or giggle), so Abrams did enough to please his base.

For die-hards who have seen all 11 Star Trek movies, not too many will call this new one the best (but none will call it the worst). But for casual fans, "Star Trek" is an easy and approachable reintroduction to the franchise. And for the rest of us, in between, it's a fun, action-packed movie worth seeing on the big screen.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.