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More Star Trek Thoughts

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. πŸ™‚ 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.

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

17 Comments on More Star Trek Thoughts

  1. If you think the supernova/galaxy thing was bad, you should have read the countdown comic.  In that, Spock actually says that it threatens the entire universe

    And, you know, even though I’m one of the detractors of this film, I actually like that Vulcan was destroyed.  It makes things quite interesting.

  2. I think your take on it is a lot like mine– though I thought Pine was a little hyperactive (did not like the Kobayashi Maru scene at all). It was enjoyable if not always in the traditional “Star Trek” vein. I’m going to have to write a post on what I would have done differently. My hopes are that the sequel will be a strong installment since the foundation has now been laid. 

  3. chillygogo // May 16, 2009 at 2:52 am //

    Thank you for bringing up Michael Giacchino’s lackluster musical score.  Never once did it create any emotional response to what was on screen.

    And what was up with Spock and Uhuru’s romance.  It was distracting and added nothing to the story. 

    Otherwise, loved it!

  4. I wrote up a <a href=”http://multigenrefan.com/startrekmoviefan/2009/05/14/review-star-trek-with-spoilers/”>longer review</a> after I saw it the second time. Still love it even if problems were more noticeable. I agree with a lot of your points here somewhat, though I think I saw some characters differently.

    I also just bought and watched the new Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy DVD – Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and Voyage Home and I think for every complaint people have about the new Trek you can pretty much find it in the old. Plot holes, contrived coincidences, odd character choices, and bad science so I’m not sure you can exactly say that the new Trek “isn’t Star Trek”, because it is, in it’s own unique way. And watching Wrath of Kahn I was actually bored with all of the talking they were doing. I still love that movie best of all but there was sooooo much talking and talking over every little thing. So while the new Trek may have had more action than story think I like how fast it went better than the old Treks.

    <i>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.</i>

    So the destruction of one planet kills the optimism for you? Yes it IS Vulcan, I know and yes a devastating blow for everyone. But another point in Star Trek is that where there’s life there’s hope. There are Vulcan’s left, and those that are alive will survive.  Yes it’s different, yes it’s a bit darker but the essential core of Star Trek hasn’t changed much at all.

  5. Why has hand coding the links stopped working? Trying again: http://multigenrefan.com/startrekmoviefan/2009/05/14/review-star-trek-with-spoilers/

     

     

  6. weyland yutani // May 16, 2009 at 5:24 am //

    tough crowd.

    I loved every bit of the film, including Giacchino’s brilliant score.  Bought it the second I got home and it has been playing all week.

  7. I really enjoyed the movie.  There were problems though.  Some how Kirk landing on the same planet in the same vicinity at the original Spock. 

    What was really the hardest to take though was Nero spending 25 years waiting for revenge rather than trying to save his home or family.  The dude isn’t the brightest bulp in the pack

    But I thought the acting was really good and the effects wwere wonderful.  I’m looking forward to what is coming next

  8. I really enjoyed the movie.  There were problems though.  Some how Kirk landing on the same planet in the same vicinity at the original Spock.

    And a federation base with an amazing engineer within walking distance.  Yeah, there were an awful number of coincidences in that part of the movie.

     

     

  9. Great rundown! I agree about Scotty. While Pegg’s performance was fun and brought a lot to the character’s reboot, I thought the role itself veered too much into comic relief territory.

    One thing that jumped out at me was the “As you know, Spock” dialogue when Chekov was explaining the singularity scenario. Like Spock wouldn’t know that? That’s not a criticism of Star Trek vs. of lazy writing.

    On the whole, I enjoyed the film very much. It’s as much fun to talk about what it got right as what it got wrong!

     

    • 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.

    Well, you have to remember that canon went out the window in the first five minutes of the film. And for me, one of the most brilliant aspects of the film was how they chose to deal with the way in which canon was undone and reestablished, laying groundwork for more films in the series which can deviate from pre-reboot canon.

    (Though I imagine someone at some point will try to unboot the reboot, just as there are rumors of a Battlestar Galactica movie based upon the 1970s version of the series and not the new version.)

  10. tigeraid // May 16, 2009 at 9:44 am //

    Basically, every little issue I had with the film, I thought for a second “well that kind of bugs me” and then it disappeared as I went back to enjoying the movie.  And you know what?  I realized that’s how I watched the last 10 movies too.

    In some cases (V, Insurrection, Nemesis) those points were too large and too affecting of the movie for me to move on.  But that was the case with Star Trek II, III, IV, and VI–plot holes and inconsistences that I noticed briefly, then continued enjoying the movie.  This is Star Trek–the ideas are bold, but the science is rarely accurate.  Since when did that matter?

    As for Kirk meeting Old Spock on the planet by coincidence?  I would chalk that up to “fate.”  Divine intervention, bla bla, that sort of thing.  Plus, they were both fired at the planet on the side facing Vulcan, and we know Kirk walked for a while, just not how long.  That didn’t bother me too much.  Neither did Scotty being marooned there for scientific work.

    I too thought they explained the canon problems/alternate reality perfectly, and it really leaves this universe open for all sorts of different stories, not to mention future novels.  We can keep our sacred canon the way it is, and still enjoy this.

    I loved each of the characterisations… They each brought something new to the old character that made me feel like they weren’t just copying.  The only one that bothered me was Chekov, and ya, all I could think was “Wesley Crusher.”  All because of delivery.  His lines were fine, his character was fine, but the accent was just TOO much.

    The only major beefs I had with the movie all revolved around Nero, who just ended up being another Alien Of the Week instead of the interesting, tortured character he should’ve been.  They could’ve cut a large chunk out of Kirk’s origin and spent it on Nero instead.  Taking 30 seconds to explain the horror he experienced, combined with about a minute of Spock explaining Romulus being destroyed just didn’t cut it.  They should’ve spent some time explaining where he spent the last 25 years after Kirk’s birth… And why the hell does a mining ship have a full compliment of disruptors and torpedoes?

    Still, mostly small problems.

    Know what convinced me the movie worked?  My wife came with me.  As soon as I took a minute to explain “this is the Kirk and Spock Star Trek” she got all ticked off, saying she never liked the original series, found it too corny (though she loved TNG)… After the movie, she admitted she loved it.  This is a movie that will bring new fans to the series.  And I think that’s important.

  11. tigeraid // May 16, 2009 at 9:45 am //

    Oh, and how’s this for nerdy whining canon?

    Kirk can’t drive a stick, as we saw in A Piece of the Action.

    Yet a 9 year old Kirk drove the stick in the ’67 Vette.

    I’m such a nerd.

  12. Smoking Robot // May 16, 2009 at 10:55 am //

    In a film of great characters I thought Chekov was one of the best.   These are all obviously VERY smart people.   He’s there because he’s one of the smartest and he gets to show it.  I thought the jokes on the accent were funny.   I loved his energy – he was SO HAPPY to be there.    Much more believeable for me than the sword-wielding Sulu.

  13.  

    Here’s an ongoing series of blog posts that I found interesting, relating to the Star Trek canon:

     

    http://www.postmodernbarney.com/2009/05/there-is-no-star-trek-canon/

     

    http://www.postmodernbarney.com/2009/05/there-is-no-star-trek-canon-part-ii/

     

    I had completely forgotten the introduction (written by Admiral Kirk, no less!) in the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

  14. Matte Lozenge // May 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm //

    The question is not how it compares to other Star Trek films. Let’s compare apples to apples. The question is, is it better than Mission Impossible III?

  15. I saw the movie last night in a packed theater where I was one of the oldest people watching (and I’m not that old :-). I’ve long been a Star Trek fan and, like you, I had the occasional “that’s not canon” reaction. However, I thought they did a great job updating the series for a new generation–who turned out in droves to see it–while also bringing back the characters we loved so much from the original series.

    I should also add that this is by far the best Star Trek movie ever. Yes, the series was better, but if fans are honest with themselves none of the Star Trek movies have ever come close to the quality of the series (except perhaps The Wrath of Khan). Watching this movie made me feel like I was seeing the original series for the first time. Add in the new viewers who have arrived, and the movie has more than did its job.

  16. As a summer action-adventure, the flick was top notch. The pacing was pretty much spot on between the highs and lows, the acting was sufficiently over the top, and the special effects were flawless. They even borrowed from Firefly and Serenity for that dirty lens / handheld look in space. I can easily see why it’s so popular with the critics.

    I’m tempted to rant at depth at this point, but i’ll just skip to the end: Other than some colorful costuming and borrowed ship designs, Star Trek (2009) did nothing to satisfy my inner Trekkie.

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