Well, it finally happened. J.J. Abrams brought us a newer Big Screen version of the original series Star Trek so that we could boldly go were we’d never gone before. Or where we’d gone 8 or 9 times before? I’ve lost count.
Let that go. As it stood, I was pretty ambivalent about the impending movie. On the one hand, I really wanted to see the continuation of the series I’d loved as a child. I liked that the special effects would be better (the preview alone illustrates that), and the movie makers were actually willing to put some money into the production. But from what I’d heard and seen in different reviews, commentaries, and trailers prior to the release, I was afraid that they would completely botch the job.
For one thing, aside from great special effects, the trailers looked incredibly, stupifyingly lame. I’m sorry. I know a lot of people loved them, but they did. Little punk boy drives a car over a cliff; then when a policeman asks his name, he huffily declares, “James Tiberious KIRK!” Um, lame. Whiny beat-up bar guy telling Captain Pike in a bar, “Why you talking to me, man?” Again, lame. Oh, and the best one? The trailer that shows the Enterprise has no Captain or First Officer and then announces something about “deciding your destiny” as Kirk just DECIDES to sit in the Captain’s chair? MAJORLY LAME. I still don’t understand Star Fleet’s advancement program, even after seeing the movie, though I grant it wasn’t quite as bad as the trailer made it look.
So, with some (okay, A LOT) of trepidation, I went to see this movie last Monday. It was good. I wouldn’t say it was the best movie I’d ever seen (Star Trek or otherwise), but it was fun. If I wasn’t a Star Trek follower and fan, I might even say great, though I did have a problem with some of the plot flaws and some scenes where people acted out of character. If I wasn’t a fan, those things might not have bothered me as much. But I am, so they really bugged me, though I still recommend people go see the movie. The scene where old Spock talks to Sylar Spock at the end…that alone makes the entire movie worth watching.
So, what did I like and not like about this movie? I could talk about this for hours, but I’ll narrow it down to my opinion of the movie’s top few Pros and Cons.
PRO: Incredible Special Effects.
I mean,we get to see an entire planet destroyed! That was awesome in a way I cannot put into words.
CON: The physics.
Parts of the movie I didn’t mind this so much (like noises in space), but the planet being sucked into a black hole was problematic. Still, it was so much fun to watch that I didn’t really mind that.
Red matter? I had no idea what they were talking about. I assumed it was some backstory issue that I hadn’t been told. I think there are Star Trek (prequel?) comics that are supposed to explain this, but why should I have to do extra reading to understand the movie? I love reading, but I shouldn’t have to study to be able to understand what’s going on. Especially since I’m already a fan of the series that the movie is based on! Still, I was willing to let that slide.
PRO: The characters.
The movie was cast very well. For the most part, the cast acted like their characters and not like imitations of the t.v. cast. I especially enjoyed Sylar Spock with one EXTREME exception. I’ll get to that later in the following Con.
Scotty was fun, given his limited screen time. And I LOVED Bones. I know he sort of broke the rule and imitated DeForrest Kelley, but I liked that. To be honest, the original McCoy always annoyed the hell out of me. He was always going off yelling at people and making offhand remarks for no apparent reason. His facial expressions were just weird. But the new Bones managed to say all his classic McCoy-isms and yet not be annoying. I know some people think his imitation was a bit over the top, but he wasn’t nearly as frenetically emotional as Original Series Bones.
I’ll admit that about halfway through the movie, even Kirk grew on me. Uhura was given a bigger role. You got more of her backstory, and it emphasized just how brilliant she really was. Chekhov had a couple of funny lines, throwback jokes to the previous movies. Sulu looked like he was doing a good job, but neither Chekhov nor Sulu had many lines. At least Sulu got to sword fight though. How cool was that? I really enjoyed getting more backstory on young (little boy) Spock.
Leonard Nimoy as older Spock was incredible. There’s simply nothing else to say.
CON: The characters.
My number one problem with this movie was the whole Spock/Uhura love affair. It’s not the actors’ faults. They did the best they could with the script, but come on!
Uhura was fine, EXCEPT for all the scenes where she’s throwing herself at Spock. In the turbolift, she comes and keeps kissing him after his personal tragedy while he’s standing there like a statue. You think maybe she could take a hint? He’s a Vulcan! He doesn’t like to show emotion, especially in public. Okay, maybe they had a relationship and in private he showed more, but the turbolift? I thought that was stupid, but okay, I’ll suspend my disbelief.
And then, what? – they’re MAKING OUT ON THE TRANSPORTER PAD! In front of Kirk, no less! I’m sorry, but that’s the most uncharacteristic Spock moment in the entire movie. Even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief THAT much! I understand maybe they were going for a humorous moment to offset the Vulcan tragedy, especially since Kirk had been hitting on Uhura throughout the entire movie. I understand that Vulcans have intense emotions and that watching your planet blow up might make you reconsider how much you suppress them. But only a few minutes earlier, in relative privacy on the turbolift he hardly moved. And now we’re expected to believe that he has no problem making out in front of another officer? PULLEASE.
CON: The music.
I know a ton of people loved the music. There was a new, rock n’ roll type soundtrack instead of the traditional Star Trek themes that we’d come to know and love. It felt like the focus was so concentrated on attracting newer younger viewers that they were slighting the loyal longtime fans. They did play the theme at the very, very end during the end credits, but it felt like a token gesture.
Specifically using Cannon to discount Cannon. The Time travel debate.
If you are a big budget director, how do you reinvent an old series in a way that would be acceptable to loyal fans while giving you the freedom to take the series in a new, unpredictable direction? Time travel.
Time travel, apparently, solves all your problems. At least in the Star Trek Universe.
It can’t be faulted for not being cannon, because it’s been done many times before in the many incarnations of the series as well as the movies. They didn’t slingshot around the sun, but red matter filled the gap nicely. It was equally implausible and dumb (unless they explain it better in the prequel comics), yet it allowed the story to progress in a new and excitingly complicated direction. Since it had been done before I had no problem with it.
The difficulties arise in our interpretation of what the new and excitingly complicated time line means. Is it one time line? Is there a primary time line or do multiple timelines exist in equally valid ways? When I saw Vulcan implode, intrasucked, or whatever that was, I was concerned about the timeline. If there was only one, did they just NEGATE the entire original series? Because that would have really sucked. It would have sucked in a way that was consistent with cannon, but still. Sorry I’m not more eloquent, but so be it.
After some reflection (and a conversation with my husband), I reconsidered this view. I’d failed to consider something (or rather someone) fairly obvious- Older Spock. At first, I thought that Older Spock might have been exempt from any changes in the timeline once he was taken out of his own. But then would he still have memories of a timeline that no longer existed? Or would he disappear?
It makes more sense to think of both timelines as being equally valid. That explains why Spock is still there in a less complicated (lol) way, yet allows them to blow up Vulcan without violating cannon. I thought the time travel solution was rather clever. The only potential con is the ambiguity about what happens to the original timeline. Sylar Spock even addressed this with a line about how they were living a different timeline, which I interpreted as “Don’t worry fans. We’re still respecting cannon. Anything we’ve done is explained in a way that you can accept.” And I did. Again, I thought it was clever. The fact that they respected the cannon made up for a lot.
Also, the potential with the new timeline is awe inspiring. I can’t even imagine where they’ll go with Vulcan out of the picture and their entire civilization condensed to a small displaced people. It opens up a whole new universe of possibilities.
PRO: Action packed fun.
From the very first scene, the action is virtually continuous. From the scene with Kirk’s father to the destruction of Vulcan. There’s planet destruction, a sword fight with Sulu, and space battles. The effects were top notch.
So, overall, my review leans in favor of watching the movie. There were plot flaws, but they gave nods to the fans, they respected cannon, and above all they featured Leonard Nimoy. The fact that he actually had a real role, not just a courtesy cameo, made this movie worthwhile. All the rest is just garnish. So if you don’t care about spoilers and read this review anyway, go see this movie. Maybe there’ll be a new series!