I was a little afraid to see the new Star Trek Movie. All of the materials they sent me to hype the movie either bored or annoyed me. I started getting a little excited about the movie after the early screenings started returning good reviews. Sitting in the theater as boring trailers, my anticipation ramped up as film crept ever closer. I love Star Trek. It is probably my favorite franchise. I really hoped they wouldn't mess it up.
It took me a while to write this review, because I wanted to make sure I got past my fanboy response to the movie and was able to talk about the movie with a bit more distance and clarity.
What should Star Trek be?
Gene Roddenberry's concept of Star Trek was a simple formula:
- Basic wants and needs
But it should also tackle all of the most important issues of the day. (You can read more about this in my post: More Proof J. J. Abrams Doesn’t Get Star Trek). The early publicity left me with many concerns.
Addressing early concerns
Prequel/Sequel/Reboot [reus name="Star Trek iFrame"]
I was really confused about the nature of the film when they started calling is a prequel/sequel/reboot.
That is a strange thing to say, and alone, a statement that doesn't make sense, but for this film it works.
- Spock starts on Romulus like he is in the Next Generation
- The first Federation uniforms we see are right out of Star Trek Enterprise.
- Time travel story
- Young versions of the characters
- Establishes an alternate timeline for Star Trek
I am not sure I like the classification of this movie as a reboot. Battlestar Galactica was a reboot, this was more of a return to the core of what made Star Trek great in the original series. If this is a reboot so was:
- The Animated Series (added more exotic alien races)
- The Motion Picture (changed the Kligons forever)
- Wrath of Khan (Brought back the Action/Adventure quality of the series.
- Voyage Home (The crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
- The Next Generation (updated the series for a new generation of fans)
- Deep Space Nine (Star Trek without exploration but with more military elements)
- Generations (Kirk is ripped from the timeline)
- Voyager (Star Trek without the Federation)
- First Contact (The Borg and the crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
- Insurrection (The Federation is not perfect)
- Enterprise (Star Trek before the Federation without superior technology)
If you would count each of these major revisions of the setting as a reboot, than this movie is a reboot. To me, this sequel/prequel.
Turning Star Trek into Star Wars?
Abrams, Kurtzman anf Orci all said they wanted to turn bring more Star Wars into Star Trek, but I don't think they got there. I love both series, and I am familiar with the main qualities of both, and I don't think they brought much if anything from one to the other.
I was afraid that is was going to be more of a Lethal Weapon in Space, Speed: Warp 10, Star Wars: The Vulcan Chronicles, or Cloverfield 2: The Future of the Beast (WTF Star Trek Super Bowl Ad!?!). There is not a scene in this film that I could see easily fitting in one of the earlier films or the original television series.
Maybe they originally thought of Nero's ship as a sort of Death Star, but it is no more than Probe from The Voyage Home, V'ger from the Motion Picture, or the Son'a ships from Insurrection. Other than that, I just don't get it.
Uhura in her off hours
I was excited when I saw the clip of Uhura telling Kirk off in the bar. I hoped Kirk would get his butt kicked and he so did. I was concerned about the stripping clips of Uhura in the trailers but I love the way the dealt with her.
I loved the relationship between Uhura and Spock. It made sence, and it served to dehumanize Spock in an interesting way. The juxtaposition of her emotions and his total lack of emotions really hilighted the difference between humans and vulcans.
I know there are a lot of people who didn't like her depiction in this movie, but Uhura was always a more laid back member of the crew.
Addressing new concerns after seeing the movie
Kirk's Vaccine reaction
I loved the adverse reaction that Kirk had to the Vaccine that McCoy gave him. It was a flashback to the kind of humor the original series thrived on. It was silly, light hearted and interfered with the characters ability to do what they needed to do.
The Engine Room of Doom!
WTF were they thinking when they designed the engine room. It was funny, but I agree with Gwen DeMarco regarding the fate of the writer who came up with the idea for these scenes...
I could go off on a long string blue words, but I will let the others who have already done that do it. I just thought this was a blemish on an otherwise great film.
Nero's ship armament
Brian and I argued about this fro a long time after the movie. Personally, I think Nero was just a MacGuffin to give an excuse for the story to happen. Neither he nor his crew are intgral to the plot and could have been replaced by anyone else with any other motive using any other means. Nero is not important. They obviously didn't give his subplot any thought, and frankly, the movie would have been better without the distraction.
I wish the film would have had a real 3 dimensional villain, but I honestly didn't expect one from a J. J. Abrams movie. He has never done villains well. Every movie and show that he has ever touch has had a weak, impotent, or flat villain. A better director would have insisted on a better antagonist, but the story didn't matter, the action did.
Kirk's Exile from the Enterprise
Some people have complained about Spock having Kirk put in a life pod and jettisoned from the ship. If I really wanted to defend the movie here I would say that this was a symptom of Spock's frustration that Kirk should not be on the ship at all. I think that could be argued.
Once more, this is another symptom of Abrams' half-assed directing style. He needed to have Kirk on the planet to meet Spock and this was the quickest and most "visually exciting" way to do it. Let's be honest, this was an excuse to have Kirk chased by a Cloverfield reject so he could talk to Spock in a cave. It was not thought out.
Nero's motive for attacking Vulcan are nothing less than laughable. He was a stupid man on a stupid ship with the horridly named "Red Matter" who wants to destroy Vulcan rather than save his homeworld.
Maybe he thought he could do both. Rid the Empire of the threat of the Federation and save his homeworld. I think the reallity is a lot simpler.
Like most of the annoying things in this film it just wasn't well thought out. It was a flimsy excuse for a Nero to be a villain and commit a terrorist act without having to think about whether or not he has a good (or at least understandable) reason or not.
Nero is a flat, empty character and I can tell you why. This movie is nothing more than:
Wrath of Khan, take 2
This story follows the plot of Wrath of Khan beat by beat with several notable exceptions:
- Nero is not as scary as Khan.
- Nero does not have a motive for revenge.
- "Red Matter" is not as scary as the Genesis Device.
- Wrath of Khan had better writers and director.
This movie is to Wrath of Khan what the Next Generation episode "Naked Now" is to the Original Series episode "Naked Time." It is a good remake, but it is not as good as the original.
Is this Star Trek?
Let's measure it against Gene's definition
√ Action √ Adventure √ Basic wants and needs √ Tackle all of the most important issues of the day.
That last check might be a little controversial, but I thought the show dealt with the random nature of terrorism and the emotional cost it has on people.
Star Trek's New Phase
I am glad to say that Star Trek has been reborn, much as it was when Wrath of Khan came out. I loved the movie.
- Canon Uniforms
- Spock's relationship with the Romulans
- Characters were perfect
- Not just an action film
- great FX
- sense of humor
- The Engine room
- Lack of a serious villain
- Nero's Ship
- "Red Matter"
- The Alien Monster
- Kirk's marooning
Rating = 10
The Future of Star Trek
Orci and Kurtzmen have already signed on to write the next movie in the series, but that are not sure if it will be a Prequel, Sequel, or Reboot to this movie. They said they are waiting to see what the reaction to this film is. And there is one more thing:
Kurtzman: The very last scene when Spock and Spock meet each other, finally. And elder Spock is convincing young Spock that he couldn't interfere, because it would have diverted [Kirk and Spock] away from their friendship. And that their friendship is the key to the whole sort of shebang.
Orci: He gave him a recorded message from Kirk.
Kurtzman: He [elder Spock] said, "Don't take my word for it." And he handed him [younger Spock] a little holographic device and it projected Shatner. It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time... (Topless Robots)
That could be the set up for the next movie. Personally, I don't want another movie. I want a TV series.