JJ Abrams’ $150m Star Trek has received glowing praise from early reviews following its UK premierein London last night (April 20). Critics claim it will revitalise the franchise.

The film, which is due to open in the UK on May 8, chronicles the early days of James T. Kirk and his fellow SS Enterprise crew members. It has been reported that the cast, which includes British actor Simon Pegg as Scotty and Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, have signed three-film contracts and will make a trilogy if the first film fares well at the box office. A sequel is expected to be released in 2011.

Early reviews praise the film for its pace, sleek appearance and for using a good combination of recognisable elements along with new additions.

In his review, Mike Goodridge, Screen’s US editor, says Abrams’ injects “a gigantic dose of energy” and has bought the franchise “roaring back to life”.

He adds: “Going boldly where many have been before, the talented film and TV-maker hardly puts a foot wrong in his quest of renewal, creating a new mythology complete with pin-up stars, invigorating humour and juicy on-board melodrama.”

Paramount’s decision to bring in Abrams’ was a masterstroke, says Goodridge, as he understands today’s young audiences. A point The Guardian picked up on describing the film as “Star Trek 90201”, saying it is pitched directly at the teenage demographic.

The London Daily Mail is breathless in its praise declaring it to be “not only by far the best of the 11 Star Trek movies, it must rank as the outstanding prequel of all time”.

The Times, which gives it five stars, says: “Abrams’ film is a rollicking space adventure that makes you fall in love with the original series all over again.” It adds that the movie looks “gorgeous”. While, BBC.co.uk says it is “big, flashy and action packed with impressive special effects. Kids will enjoy it and the snappy dialogue provides enough laughs for mum and dad.”

Amid the predictable sci-fi puns, The London Evening Standard says it is “bigger, brasher and more exciting than everything that’s gone before.” It adds: “Watching the first 15 minutes is like being stabbed in the heart with an adrenalin injection.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian concludes: “What comes as the real surprise amid the mutli-million dollar storm are the gameness of the performances. Combined, they, and this new voyage, have real optimistic force and uplift.”

It is not clear if director Abrams, the co-creator of US TV series Lost, has also signed a three-film deal.