Every now and then, the various creators entrusted with the “Star Trek” legacy hit on some new element that leaves a lasting imprint. Introducing the hive-minded Borg, say, to give the Klingons some competition in the all-time galactic scourge department. Or raising the mission stakes so that it’s not just nameless ensigns who can perish, but even a character like Spock.
Director J.J. Abrams’s contribution is something more basic, but also far greater. With 2009’s feature reboot, “Star Trek,” he proved that the series could be recast, have its decades of sprawling continuity set aside, and still feel just as distinctive and stimulating as it had in its finest hours. (Not to mention even more profitable: Abrams’s $140 million production pulled in $258 million domestically. That made it a high point on a par with the lower-budgeted “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” which grossed $110 million back in 1986.) At a time when one of sci-fi’s most iconic franchises had been stalled for years, Abrams, Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Spock, and the rest of their crew found a way to make “Trek” relevant again.