TR Review: Star Trek


I liked the new Star Trek movie a lot. A lot. Now, I need to be upfront about where I’m coming from — I’ve always been a Star Wars guy, not a Trek guy. However, I have enjoyed the original Kirk n’ Spock series for the retro charm, the crazy sci-fi action adventure, and the utter Shatner of it, but I couldn’t stand Next Generation or the other Trek series.

So if you’re a hardcore Trek fan and hate the movie, I don’t begrudge that of you. I may be wrong, but I feel that there’s two different sets of Trek fans — those who think of Trek as the sci-fi action adventure best epitomized by the original series, and those who love the more thoughtful, more sci-fi heavy aspect best represented by The Next Generation. I can see how the latter group would have problems with the movie, but I have to imagine that the former group mostly enjoyed it immensely. This takes a bit, so please hit the jump for my thoughts.

I’m not going to bother to rehash the plot, because most of you saw it this weekend anyways. But I do want to raise some points that kind of stunned me based on my own reaction. If you’ve read any of my previous TR movie reviews you know I hate sloppy scripts and plot holes. I eviscerated both Dragonball and Wolverine for making little sense in that regards. In this article, commenter Photoboy gave a list of excellent questions about the Trek movie’s plot.

That I had never noticed.

Seriously, I enjoyed Star Trek so much that none of those questions ever occurred to me. Well, maybe the quick promotion of the recent Starfleet graduate Kirk, but goddamn, he’s Kirk, and that’s just how he roles. I was utterly willing to suspend my disbelief not only for the character of Kirk, which I adore, but because I was having such a good time.

And this is despite the fact I hate origin stories. I think they’re almost always clunky, they tell us things we nerds always already know about the property, and are far less interesting than actual tales involving the characters (say, Batman Begins vs. The Dark Knight). That said, I absolutely adored the seeing Kirk and Spock’s childhoods, and especially seeing the gang get into and through Starfleet. Frankly, I could happily watch a 26-episode, 1-hour TV series about Kirk and crew during their Starfleet training years. I actually liked the first half of the movie more than the second half. There’s no bizarre reason for this — it was a combination of excellent performances and the excellent story.

I also hate seeing movies twice in theaters. I almost always prefer to buy the DVD and watch it in the privacy of my own home. I really, really want to Star Trek in the theaters again, and, for the first time, I’m not sure I need to own the DVD. I’m not 100% sure why this is. But on the other hand, I was genuinely sad when the film was over — I really wanted to see more of these guys. I can’t remember any movie that made me so excited to see its sequel.

A few miscellaneous notes:
? I thought Bana’s villain and his backstory was fine; he was being evil for a good (enough for him) reason, and that’s all I was hoping for or needed from a Trek villain.

? Everyone’s talking about what a great job Zachary Quinto did as Spock, but I really didn’t note much different between his Spock and Sylar, especially in his voice. Spock’s turbulent undercurrent of emotions — I feel like that was mostly in the script. I don’t think Quinto did a bad job at all, I just don’t think he was exceptional.

? Meanwhile, I do think Chris Pine was pretty damn near exceptional as Kirk. Sure, he was lacking the Shatnerian delivery (still got 4 out of 5) but there was a bravado and a sense of destiny and just a larger-than-life personality that Shatner’s Kirk exemplified and Pine brought forth. No easy task.

? For example: when people bitch about Kirk becoming captain so quick? I believe “Because he’s goddamn Kirk” to be an utterly acceptable answer.

? The best actor in the movie? Karl Urban as McCoy. He was fucking outstanding and channeled DeForrest Kelley perfectly without veering into parody. I think I was smiling every time he was on-screen.

? I really, really liked the Spock/Uhura relationship. I think it made both characters far more interesting, and approve mightily.

? Total aside, but the Orion Slave Girl that Kirk was macking on Rachel Nichols from Alias and soon to be Scarlett in the live-action G.I. Joe movie. Where the fuck was Diora Baird? Was she the Orion Girl in the Starfleet uniform seen for a second before they board the ships? What a waste of Diora Baird.

? Having Tyler Perry make a guest appearance was a terrible fucking idea.

? Some people have bitched about the time travel/alternate timeline stuff, but I think it was a great idea. One of the many reasons I never gave a shit about later Trek series and movies is because it seemed like they were going back in time to fuck around with whales and James Cromwell and shit (and those were the good ones). Still, I thought this was handled very well, since it was simple enough for mass audiences.

? Moreover, I think the alternate timeline idea was brilliant. I think it fits perfectly in the Trek “universe,” so to speak, and it allows the original timeline to exist while allowing the new franchise to do whatever it wants or needs.
? That said, I think there was too much Nimoy in the film. I understand adding him in a nod to all the hardcore Trek fans, but it started feeling gratuitous after a while.

? Least favorite scene: Scotty in the pipes. It was just slowed down the action and was aggravating.

? Also, I really, really wish Shatner had given the “boldly go” voiceover at the end instead of Nimoy.  For a film about Kirk and Spock’s burgeoning friendship, it would have been perfect. Actually, for all I know, Shatner was offered the voiceover, and he thought it was prominent enough and declined.

All in all, I really have to say I found the new Star Trek movie to be genuinely great. I understand if some Trekkies fell like it’s not their Trek, but listen — my non-nerd wife saw Star Trek and loved it. My incredibly non-nerd mom is excited about seeing it. Non-nerds around the country have seen a Star Trek flick and loved it, or are going to see it after never giving a damn about sci-fi in general or Star Trek in particular their entire lives. The fact is, this movie has brought more fans to Star Trek than any other show or movie in the franchise’s history, and I believe that that is a good thing. And that, more than anything, is what makes this movie great.