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What Did You Think of the New Star Trek?

In lieu of a formal review (which undoubtedly already number into the hundreds by now) I wanted to capture a few thoughts on J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot and ask readers what they thought of it as well…


  • My expectations were high – The film has been gathering very positive reviews from a wide variety of sources. The good news is that those impressions are right on the mark. This is an excellent film.
  • It’s an unabashed (and unapologetic) space opera. Space battles, hand-to-hand combat, sacrifice, revenge, drama, romance, sense of wonder…glorious.
  • It’s accessible SciFi – This was the first Trek film that my son – not at all a Trek fan – ever expressed any interest in seeing. Not only did he want to see it, he liked it. A lot. This an indication that the film is appealing to old and new fans alike. If you’re a SciFi fan, don’t be afraid to go with a non-fan friend.
  • The film respects the property. Yes, it diverges from the original series — and the film explains why — but even so, the core essence of the world and the characters remains.
  • The casting was spot on. Even – God help me – with Zach Quinto as Spock, who annoyed me endlessly when I was still watching Heroes. Karl Urban’s gruff-but-lovable Doctor McCoy was probably the truest reflection of the old series. He was exactly what you’d think McCoy would be like in his younger years. Chris Pine’s Kirk was also a worthy interpretation; brash without being annoying or irresponsible. All the others – Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, Scotty – were also well portaryed.
  • The film was a perfect balance of several elements. Some might argue that there was not enough of one or the other, but there was so much ground to cover that I was pleased that they managed to fit it all in in decent amounts. Some of those elements include:
    • Characters, as mentioned above: Again. perhaps not as focused on those characters as the original series, but I would argue that to do so would have made the film less enjoyable. Consider, too, that I am familiar with the original series, so that may have filled in some of the characterizations. It’s impossible to forget that and accurately predict whether newcomers would feel the same (though I suspect that they would).
    • Plot – A plan of Romulan revenge and new beginnings wonderfully supports scenes loaded with action and drama.
    • Sense of wonder: To answer Neil Sheppard’s Twitter comment to my one-line Twitter review, how are planet-drilling machines and black holes not wondrous?
  • There were a few WTF moments (unlikely coincidences, Kirk’s contrived fat-hands, etc.), but they were largely forgivable in light of all the goodness that surrounded it.

J.J. Abrams had the daunting task of pleasing old fans, welcoming new fans, and launching a new platform for (undoubtedly) further adventures. I think he succeeded on all counts. (Can I say I told you so?) It makes one hope for a similar reboot of another series with still-untapped potential (looks at George Lucas) in…oh, let’s say…10 years.

The bottom line is that Star Trek is everything a Trek film should be.

MY RATING:

Now…tell us what you think? Leave your spoiler-free comments below…

About John DeNardo (13014 Articles)
<p>John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.</p>

33 Comments on What Did You Think of the New Star Trek?

  1. My expectations were tremendously low for this film and so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed.  Still, I’d only give it a 5.5/10 or so.  I mean, I can’t say it was bad, but it had some fairly large oversights (which I can’t get into without being spoilery) as well as too-convenient plotting.  I thought Chris Pine’s Kirk was impressive though.  There were moments when, while he definitely had his own take, Pine was Shatner’s Kirk and that’s a good thing.  I have to disagree with you on Urban, though.  His Bones was an over the top impersonation.  He brought nothing original in his portrayal.

    Call me an over critical Trekkie.  I can handle it.  It wasn’t awful.  Better than #5, of course, and on par with Nemesis.  I hope that the next movie will move past all the in-jokes (enjoyable as they were) and get to some real character development and a story that requires a little thought. 

  2. Wow A_Z, I’m not getting the 5.5 rating at all. 

    I loved it. I need to write up a review and I could pick it apart if I wanted to for a variety of things but really, all that matters to me are two things– is it true to the original and was it entertaining? I’d say a big yes to both. Most entertaining Star Trek movie yet and the best thing I’ve watched since “The Dark Knight.”

  3. It was a fun action film. Not really a Star Trek film in my books, because it couldn’t come down off the sugar high of non-stop explosions long enough to express the philosophical side that is a signature of Trek movies. But it was a good summer popcorn flick none-the-less.

     

  4. I loved it and I thought I wouldn’t. Bones was awesome, Kirk was Kirk while not being Shatner. Loved the romance. The explanation for the differences really sold it for me. Loved brainy Chekov as well. Some of the jokes were close but no cigar, and some things just didn’t make good sense (One non-spoilery thing (I hope) – Bra technology will not advance in the next two-hundred or so years. Sorry ladies. And sorry, guys.), but I was able to forgive them. An old-timer delivered one of the most wooden performances of the series. πŸ™

    Overall, I recommend it to anyone sitting on the fence. Great job!

  5. I too liked it, though my expectations going in were much, much lower. (My review <a href=”http://gerrycanavan.blogspot.com/2009/05/star-trek.html”>here</a>.) I do wonder whether long-term this hurts the franchise more than it helps it — J.J. Abrams’s Trek will surely not launch a thousand spinoffs or capture for every long the imaginations of the people who see it. Though the movie was enjoyable, this is a much more disposable version of Trek than the one we’ve become accustomed to.

  6. Anonymous // May 10, 2009 at 9:27 am //

    I loved it. I had a lot of worries about the movie – that it would be all sound and light without a real story to it like a lot of new movies these days – and I was glad to have been proven wrong. I thought they did a great job of capturing the essence of the original characters while creating a new and different universe to explore.

    @GC – I do think you have a point about how long it will continue the franches since there isn’t a lot of room for spin offs but I think for now I’d be happy with a few sequels. Who knows perhaps with the new movie someone will come along and descide they they could create a tv show from it or perhaps a TV show that uses the same universe but a different set of characeters. Science Fiction tells us that anything is possible, and I think in his own way J.J. Abrams just proved it.

    My own spoiler free review for the movie can be found on my blog.

  7. Sorry, the above Anonymouse post was me… I hit the post button before entering in my information …

  8. What you said.  πŸ˜‰

    The casting was just glorious, as far as I’m concerned, with Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto leading the pack.  (My only quibble was that I personally would have liked to see Paul McGillion play Scotty, but I have no complaints with Simon Pegg.)  The new “relationship” between two certain characters hit just the right note.  I’m really glad your son liked it; I think it’s an amazing feat that so far, this movie has managed to enterain both die-hard Trekkers and completely non-Trekkers alike.

  9. P.S.  My expectations were originally very low, but the previews and early reactions made me a lot more hopeful.

  10. Ok cheesy blow shit up SF movie.  I’d give it a 3 out of 5.

  11. Warning: one spoiler.

     

    I enjoyed the characters and loved the film on that level. I thought it was clever that any changes in the characters could be explained by the alternate reality concept. So, Kirk’s a bit of a jerk and off target from the original, but that’s explained by the new tragic events in his early life.

    What I can’t believe:

    I’m always saying here that science doesn’t matter in SF because the stories aren’t about science but people and ideas. However, the weird mistakes that even a kid would know annoyed me. The first is that a supernova would “threaten the galaxy” and the second was driving into black holes—like they’re holes!

    WTF.

     

  12. I really felt that the film was a great intertextual essay about Star Trek. While the other films/series in the franchise tried (and sometimes failed) to make a comment about exploration or the Other, this one confined itself to a comment about the text itself and the relationships between the characters. The plot was specious at best, but that didn’t matter — its sole purpose was to establish an alternate universe wherein we could re-examine Kirk and Spock’s roots. As such, it may be the most expensive piece of fanfiction ever produced. 

    On another note, this was the first time I actually identified with Uhura. As a child growing up with various iterations of Trek, I always felt that the female characters were just “the girls” who were supposed to appeal to me. But they were almost never women who I wanted to be, or who I could see myself in. (They were all a bit one-note: tough, angry, sexy, empathic, smart, but rarely all of those things at once.) But this Uhura actually had definite personal and professional goals, unique abilities, and likeable traits. She was sexy and smart and driven and compassionate and rebellious in her own way. My compliments to everyone involved.

    Also, anything that uses the Beastie Boys so effectively can’t possibly be all bad.

  13. I had my say a couple of days ago on a post (part 6 of 6?) about this movie.  I’ll say again, not very good Trek and only okay Sci-Fi as far as that goes in TV and movies.

    I think this movie suffered story wise in the same way that all Abrams stories suffer – internal logic is ALWAYS abandoned in favor of explosions and they are ALL inconsequential.  If Paramount wanted to make Mission Impossible: 2130, why didn’t they?

    I’ve just lost my ability to suffer through another “Sci-Fi” movie that turns on time conundrums/wormholes to justify it’s lazy, lazy storytelling.

    I’d rather see a really interesting/relevant/consequential Trek produced for $70million that Paramount can ultimately make a nice bit on change on than watch Roddenberry’s optimist vision of the future prostituted to whoever can make a summer tentpole movie out of the characters and backstory.  It made no bones about science, but sadly, it wasn’t even adequate space opera as it never held to it’s own – like say Star Wars.  The second act derailed for me when an old-school actor made an appearance in a way that is akin to Superman turning back time to invalidate the half of the film.  I resent the hijacking of the characters without the soul or inspiration.

    Seriously, where was Star Trek?: the 21st century version of an integrated bridge crew, “humans are not the reason aliens may want to contact earth”, or even revenge only leads to empty self-destruction? They couldn’t even find the space to make the easiest contemporary observation – I mean we know how straight everyone is – but not even a nod to a gay character?

    It wasn’t fresh or innovative enough as a film experience for me not to have waited for the DVD…

    I’m not tied to the past of Trek, but I know Independence Day when I see it…

  14. The new Star Trek keeps the audience’s attention so much better than the other Star Treks… there is something fundamentally wrong with a movie that feels like a chore to watch (as are so many of the original Star Treks)

  15. Enjoyed the movie, some problems with the science.  No spoilers here.

  16. Yes, that is exactly what the new Star Trek film needed to make it more truly ‘Star Trek’…a gay character.  Please.    Some legitimate complaints can be made about this film, perhaps, but that certainly isn’t one of them.  It isn’t some grand socio-political experiment…it is a movie. 

    And as such it was a damn fine piece of entertainment that I feel went out of its way to nuture and respect characters that generation after generation has learned to love.  I completely loved it, even, in the end, some of the silly things that John mentions, like Kirk’s fat hands.  The original series was full of goofy, WTF moments like that and it is my opinion that the writers put that in to be as much of a nod to the original series as any of the imitations of the actors who filled these roles in their original incarnations.

    Accuse me of being low-brow if you must, but I don’t give a rat’s ass (for the most part) about whether or not the ‘science’ in science fiction is real.  We all know that science fiction, from Edgar Rice Burroughs up through Star Wars, and beyond, has inspired scientific advancements and technological marvels for decades…and science fiction stories and films will continue to do that.  Regardless of what you may think, the average movie goer and the average science fiction fan does not need sound science to enjoy space opera.  They enjoy space opera for all the things that make space opera fun.  I don’t necessarily want a movie to be farcical, unless that is the point, but I continue to enjoy Star Trek today not because the science is good or the science is bad but because of the kind of creativity that can take individual characters and make you care so much about them that even something that initially seemed like it might be blasphemy (making a Star Trek movie with different actors playing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al.?) turns out to just make you love these characters even more.

    Lord, please put off the day(forever) that I have to have accurate scientific theory and a cast of characters that reflects every single thread of the tapestry of the world in order to be thrilled to the very heart of me by a film.  Please!

    And when did genre film lovers join the side of the rank and file critics decrying action in films?  There are certainly those films that have sacrificed every last bit of story to work in another explosion.  That is the fault of the ‘action’, that is the fault of poor writing.  This isn’t a Star Trek film because of the action?  I guess I must have missed something.  I guess my memory is really poor because I don’t recall my favorite Star Trek films (Khan, Undiscovered Country) being two hour lectures.  I also seem to remember quite a bit of action in a variety of episodes of every series, most especially the one I have just recently grown to love, Deep Space Nine.  The idea of Action=Bad seems a bit intolerant to me.  Perhaps it is just me, but I want my science fiction to be filled with adventure AND story…something I think this latest Star Trek movie (and remember, it is intended as an opening reboot of the franchise) did very well.

    Is it perfect…no.  But the experience I emotional connection I made with the film made it a perfect film-going experience for me.  Most, if not all, films have flaws, especially for those who like nothing more than to nit pick.  Star Trek was a rousing adventure that, in my opinion,  honored every thing that went before.  I’ll be seeing it again before it leaves the local cinema!

     

  17. “But the experience I emotional connection I made with the film made it a perfect film-going experience for me”

    oops, bit of word salad there at the end! πŸ˜‰

  18. Mmmmm…word salad…  πŸ™‚

    From what I’m reading, it seems like those that least enjoyed the film may have had, to varying degrees, expectations of what they wanted the film to be…or, more accurately, what they wanted a Trek film to be.  I tried to go in with an open mind and was pleased with the end results.  It’s been a long time since I could say that about a Trek film.

  19. After the crap that the last several Trek films have been, it seems unbelievable to me that anyone would have much expectation at all going into this film!

     

    “I tried to go in with an open mind and was pleased with the end results.  It’s been a long time since I could say that about a Trek film.”

    Same here.  I said over and over and over again over the past year that I thought this was a bad idea but that I would let go of my doubts if the film makers blew me away…and they did just that.

  20. http://www.skyseastone.net/jvstin/unjvst/007935.html

     

    In brief: . At its best and with a few exceptions, Trek is action adventure pulp fiction space opera set in an optimistic universe. This movie gets that, and gets that right. In spades.

  21. I’m not sure I get why people are saying it’s not philosophical enough for Star Trek. I mean you’ve got two characters growing up trying to figure out where they fit in. Two men from two different worlds struggling with their identities – and having to learn how to work together to save the day. Perhaps its a common theme and perhaps its a rather simple one, but sometimes the simple stories are the best stories of all. Sometimes watching characters going from hating each other to learning how they could be friends is the most fun. Maybe it’s not the most brilliant plot line ever but I do think it’s one of the more fun ones – and I like having fun when I go to the movies. And given that the goal of the movie was to introduce the new universe and the new version of the characters, I’m not surprised they went for the more simplistic plot in order to grab the widest possible audience.

  22. Maybe we’re seeing a new age for sci-fi. I hope so, cuz I’m tired of the bleak, dark stuff. With Star Trek, and the online graphic novel Pyramids of Mars (http://www.pyramidsofmars) I’m seeing sci-fi return to its roots. It’s old school, it’s hopeful, full of adventure and fun.

  23. I’m astounded to see so many people claim that Trek has always been about mindless action and adventure.  This all seems like backlash against backlash just because.  I think people ought to consider why they didn’t love Nemesis just as much.

  24. “I’m astounded to see so many people claim that Trek has always been about mindless action and adventure.”

    I’m not sure where I see anyone claiming that Trek has always been about mindless action and adventure…I see where others, including myself, consider action to be an integral part of Trek movies and episodes of the past and were many of us consider the series one about adventure…neither of these represent anything ‘mindless’ nor deny that Trek has also been a very philosophical and issues based show.  What has made each series great (depending on whether or not one liked a given series) is that they blended the thought-provoking and the action and adventure, making it a more complete show rather than something one-note.

    Granted, I may not remember some of the comments well having read them last night, so if someone is claiming that Star Trek has always been about mindless action and adventure consider me on your side in taking them to task.

     

  25. I went with a large group of friends and we all enjoyed it; the die-hard Trekkies and the lone British girl who needed a few things explained (like why the whole theater roared in laughter when McCoy said his “I’m a doctor not a….” line). I thought they handled the divergence from the original series well, and I liked the new romance.

    Sure, some of the science was off, as it’s supposed to be in science fiction, but I did like several of the things they got right: no sound and no up and down in space. I would really love to see someone really play with the second concept in a space movie.

    My biggest complaint with the movie has nothing to do with the plot or acting. I am so tired of the shaky-cam during action scenes! There were several times I couldn’t tell what was going on b/c the blasted camera kept moving around. Chill a bit on the shaky-cam and I’m psyched for the next installment!

  26. The reboot was a great beer and pretzels movie that I think anyone will enjoy if they don’t think about it too much. The new cast is great, the visuals are suitably eye-popping, and the logical somersaults the script makes in trying to put humpety dumpety back together again pass largely unnoticed as the movie speeds along at JJ’s signature breakneck pace. 

     

    The short version is you will probably enjoy yourself, at least the first time. The long version is at http://amazingscifi.com

  27. I didn’t like this reboot at all.

    My review can be read here: http://www.freewebs.com/kevin_thomas_riley/abramstrek.htm

  28. I understand this is an action-adventure. It’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t forget the characters in all the action. It’s not the most thoughtful Star Trek movie, and it doesn’t have to be. But if you add genocide to it, please handle it with a little bit more respect. Instead of Kirk’s ceremony it should have been one for the six billion murdered Vulcans. Can we not mourn them for a minute?

  29. I loved it. You can read my review here: http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/2009/05/08/star-trek-reboot-review.html

    (No spoilers).

  30. Matte Lozenge // May 12, 2009 at 9:03 pm //

    It was a rousing spectacle, and I think anyone with a fondness for space opera would enjoy at least parts of it. But it also has too many eye-rolling, forehead-slapping WTF? moments to count. I’m not talking about the canon or basic physics or even the gaping plot holes. I expected all of that. 

    What really diminished my enjoyment of Star Trek was that, in a lot of places, the movie failed on its own terms as an action blockbuster. I mean, how many literal cliffhangers can you stick in a movie before they stop being suspenseful and start being contrived?

    Even the climactic scene on board the Enterprise is just one more cliffhanger — and not only that, it’s a situation the crew slid into through sheer inattention and stupidity. I thought all these cadets were supposed to be the best and the brightest, and you’re telling me they can’t read a gravity warning when it pops up on a screen? Or better yet, anticipate and avoid the danger they themselves created? And then you ask me to care about these idiots and their awards and promotions? The movie was rife with this sort of lazy writing — impossible coincidences and unbelievable last-minute saves. Standard fare for Hollywood action movies, I guess, but in Star Trek it seems like the director thinks the more the better.

    The Kobayashi Maru scene pretty much summed up the movie’s premise. Don’t bother with the real work of suspense, pacing, motive, believability. Go ahead and cheat when you need to; cover up that logic gap with some camera shake and lens flare; skip the subtle emotions; distract the audience with more explosions and zoom.

    What was good about the movie? It did achieve an epic scope. The characters as they re-enacted an origin story were interesting and engaging, even if they seemed like mouthy high schoolers sometimes. I think Zachary Quinto did a good job and the movie would hardly have been Star Trek without him and Nimoy. Good, sometimes great outer space sfx. The movie didn’t go overboard with camp and sentimentality like some Star Trek has done. Although, I have an uneasy feeling about that Ewok thing hanging out in the engine room.

  31. Doubt anyone’s still reading this post but just in case, I wrote up a <a href=”http://multigenrefan.com/startrekmoviefan/2009/05/14/review-star-trek-with-spoilers/”>longer review (with spoilers) with more details</a> after my second viewing of Trek. Still loved the movie, noticed more problems but feel J.J. Abrams did a good job overall.

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