I finally managed to make it to the theater today to see Star Trek (Pete T., if you haven’t seen it yet, sorry man, I couldn’t hold out any longer). We had our group outing this afternoon and Star Trek was the choice for most (we’re a bunch of engineers) and, since we had a large group, half-price IMAX tickets sealed the deal. I’ve intentionally avoided any and all spoilers, no matter how small since last week. The overall reception, though, couldn’t be avoided. So, did it live up to the hype? For the most part, yes. I’m going to pull a John (HEL-lo!) and punch out my thoughts here in convenient list format!
A note about spoilers: I consider a week having past to be long enough to avoid spoilers, so I won’t. However all spoilers have been placed after the break for your protection.
- Star Trek worked, and worked well, when it focused on the characters. The first half of the show where the origins of the rebooted characters were on display was, for me, the best part. I really enjoyed seeing how everyone met although, silly spoiler-free me, I kept thinking to myself, that’s not canon. Sad, I know.
- I feel that Chris Pine and Karl Urban really nailed their respective characters. Pike doing a great job of portraying a swaggering, cock-sure Kirk and Urban doing a fine job playing the older, put-upon Bones. The other characters, well…
- Zachary Quinto certainly looks the part of Spock and, for the most part, does a good job as Spock. The issue I had is I kept wanting to yell at the other characters, “Look out! He’s going to eat your brains!” That’s not Quinto’s fault per se, but I still have a problem seeing him as not-Sylar.
- Zoe Saldana brings a bit more to Uhura’s character than in the original, but, really, there isn’t much for Uhura to do in this show. She basically is there to overhear the Klingon distress call and back Kirk up about it, and as Spock’s love interest. Otherwise she doesn’t do much else.
- I was somewhat disappointed with Simon Pegg’s Scotty. Not his fault, really, but the writers seem to have decided that Scotty is now the comic relief. Sure, he had some funny lines, but Scotty is more than that. And don’t get me started on how the scene where ‘classic’ Spock gives ‘new’ Scotty the transporter equation is basically the ‘transparent aluminum’ scene from Voyage Home.
- John Cho was ok as Sulu, but we really didn’t get much more about his character, and Anton Yeltin as 17-year old Chekov appeared to be this version’s Wesley Crusher, only not as annoying. Unfortunately they weren’t really given a lot to work with in this movie.
- Eric Bana. Well, as villains go, Mad Miner Cpt. Nero seemed more menacing than villainous. Really, aside from advancing the plot for the reboot, his character was basically window dressing, more a force of nature than a character and just something for our heroes to fight. Evidence? His reasons for wanting to kill Spock are dispensed with in about 20 seconds.
- And what about the plot? This is where the movie faltered. The second half focused on resolving the marauding Romulans plotline and, while it certainly looked really good and there was some kick-butt action, it wasn’t Star Trek. Now, to be fair, I think that Nemesis was too tied up in the philosophical aspects of it’s story and turned into a turgid mess. Avoiding that, and bringing in new fans, is a good thing, but it isn’t Trek, rather it’s a Hollywood-ized version.
- The movie looks really good. I like the new takes on the starships, though I still need to thing about the Enterprise more. There’s something there that bothers me. I also like the attempt at updating the bridge, although it feels too Steve Jobs ‘iShip’ for me. I did like the interactive glass Chekov was using as a console. I have to give props to the design and wardrobe departments for a job well done.
- I guess wormhole/time travel is good for more than going back in time and saving Lois Lane. You can also use it to cross dimensions and reboot a franchise! Yes, that is kind of cool, but can J.J. Abrams write a show that doesn’t involve time travel or wormholes and alternate dimensions anymore? (See LOST and Fringe) And yes, I know he doesn’t write LOST anymore, work with me here. 🙂 But as far as rebooting goes, it did the job well.
- There were still some things that bugged me. The preponderance of contrived situations the characters found themselves in strained believability. And the whole ‘supernova threatens Galaxy, news at 11!’ thing bugged the crap out of me, as did Nimoy’s delivery of that story. Don’t the writers bother looking up just what a supernova will and won’t do? Sure, it can make life difficult in the local area, but not the entire Galaxy. Although I will give them some props for the occasional use of no sound in space.
- The other thing that disappointed me was the music. I can’t really remember any of it. Nothing stuck with me or makes me want to go get the soundtrack. Aside from the iconic theme being played at the end, I didn’t get anything from this score. Sad, but there it is.
So, is it Trek? Well, yes and no. Yes in that the characters, especially the big three, were well defined and interacted as we, the fans, expected. In fact, I dare say they now own those characters going forward. I’d expect the other characters to be fleshed out more as the new franchise moves forward, which is already happening. But it’s also not Trek in that, so far, action won out over story, here at least, and the optimistic universe created by Roddenberry was just given a genocidal kick in the pants. It simply can’t be as optimistic as the original as it will always have the dark cloud of Vulcan’s destruction hanging over it.
Would I see this again? Most definitely and I found little objectionable so I will bring my kids. Would I buy this on DVD? Yes again! Mostly because I enjoyed it quite a bit and I don’t have a Blu-ray player.
Where does it rate on the Frantz-ometer of Star Trek films? Hmm, certainly better than any of the TNG films. If I had to place it, I’d say in third place, after Wrath of Kahn and The Undiscovered Country.
All in all I think Abrams and company have done a great job rebooting Star Trek. I’d certainly watch more movies with this cast, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see a TV series, though I’d hope they’d focus on something different and leave this cast for the big screen.