May 082009
 

Before I begin, I must be frank.  Star Trek was my first love.  My mother was always a huge fan of the series.  She is in fact so much a Trekker (Trekkie is a bad word in our house) that she once successfully identified an episode of the original series just by hearing the  Enterprise’s phasers fire for a second, and she wasn’t even in the room with the TV.  So, when I say I was raised on Star Trek, I mean I was raised on Star Trek.  When the Next Generation came out I was only three, yet I still remember vividly sitting down as a family every single week to watch the new episode.  I am a fan of many other series, not the least being Star Wars, (if you ask I couldn’t name all my teachers from last year, but I know who designed the B-Wing and what kind of engines the A-Wing has) but Star Trek was always the best. Admittedly the last years have been hard, Enterprise in particular damaging my faith in the direction the series was taking, (more so their horrid video games, Cryptic had dang well better get ST:Online right) leaving me unsure what to expect as I walked into the IMAX theater this evening.  Both Roger Ebert and my local paper’s critic came down hard on Star Trek (by the way, avoid Ebert’s review online, he should slap the thing with a huge spoiler warning) but that only worried me slightly, as I’ve found Ebert especially to be increasingly out of step, at times seeming to bash a very popular, entertaining film just to make himself feel superior.

So what did I find in that theater? In a word: Awesomeness.  I don’t mean the slang awesome, overused and meaningless.  Honest to goodness awe inspiring wonder that at times actually had me to the point of tears, even before the title appeared onscreen.  As a reboot of the series it was nearly flawless, bringing the juggernaut back to life looking better than ever.  Was the movie perfect?  Of course not, as with all films there are issues, minor cracks in the continuity and a couple minor details straining credulity.  It doesn’t matter.   Looking at the movie from a technical angle it is hard to fault them for anything.  Casting for something like this, essentially recasting roles preformed (good and bad) memorably for over 40 years, is a daunting task, but one done here exceptionally well.  Some of the actors seemed to channel the ghosts of actors past (Particularly Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin as Bones and Chekov) and others built their characters from the ground up, (Zoe Saldana as a very different but exceptional Uhura) but in all cases it feels right.  Of course Zachary Quinto had the hardest task, not only playing one of the most beloved characters of the entire series, (minor spoiler) but doing it at times standing next to the man who made the ears famous. (minor spoiler) Visually the movie was a treat, modernizing the look of the ships and places and yet paying homage to the iconic images from the 60’s.

As for the story and plotting of the movie, I think I’m not going to say much.  I’m generally of the mind that the fewer things you know going in to the movie the better.  (Case in point, ruining the surprise of Marion’s return to Indy in the blasted trailers for Crystal Skull, even if the movie was mediocre at best)  Did it strain credulity at times?  Definitely.  Was the villain somewhat flat and unimaginative?  Indeed, though I actually thought that a good thing for the younger versions of Kirk and Spock, the point here is they’re starting out, not the big bad villain.  Really my only complaint is that a lot of things seemed a bit convenient, a string of unlikely events happening just so to get everything right.  It’s a minor complaint though, as while I watched it the energy and excitement of the film had me easily accepting things I otherwise would have questioned.

To put it simply, if you liked any of the series, any of the movies at all, go see Star Trek.  If you like science fiction even remotely, even if you didn’t like Star Trek in the past, go see Star Trek.  Those of you who consider yourselves Trekkers and are boycotting the film because it changes things, or feel you can bash it without seeing it. Go see it or stop calling yourselves Trekkers.

Lastly, if you have any specific questions about the movie or plot email me and I’ll answer.  I will not however spoil the surprises for anyone else reading this.  This film is too special for that.

[tags]Star Trek, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto[/tags]

About

I'm a Trekker, a Brown-coat, a bibliophile, a Star Wars nut. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, mythology, anime, noir, detective stories it doesn't matter. I'm into pen and paper rpgs, console and pc games, board games. Want to argue for hours over who would win were the Enterprise-E and a Star Destroyer fight? Sure. Want to debate the advantages of the Way of the Open Palm or the Light Side? Definitely.

  30 Responses to “Star Trek Reviewed”

  1. @Jared
    Like you need to compare those. SD would win that any day.

    btw, how are your aides?

  2. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. I have a free day tomorrow (no kids) and may go see it again!

    BTW – was it Ebert’s review that questioned why they used parachutes instead of transporters when the reason was clearly explained in the movie? Was clearly not paying attention.

    As for the stretching of credulity – it’s a Star Trek movie, it’s a sci-fi movie – of course that’s gonna happen. It certainly took none of my enjoyment away.

  3. I thought it was decent. I would have liked it less if I felt stronger about TOS…I’m more of a TNG gal. The day there’s a ‘new’ Riker is the day I cry!

  4. Sorry, Star Destroyer would loose as the Enterprise can fore at warp speeds, not just impulse, the Star Destroyer cannot. Can’t hit what you can’t see:)

  5. The word is Trekkie, you half-white!

  6. Did you mean half-wit?

  7. I can understand where you are coming from Tara, and I basically feel the same way towards Picard, but if they replaced him this well and for this reason (I mean, half the original cast is dead and the other half is too old for the parts) I would be okay with it.

  8. Nice review and I agree about the pacing issues. I also found it extremely good and the only change I would like to make would be adding about 20 minutes to slow the pace down a bit and give the events that occur more time to unfold.

    I also like the poll above, as I’ve recently been thinking that perhaps the only reason we don’t yet have a presence in space is the lack of human drama from the people we’ve had up there until now (that post is my url here). It may be that we’ve simply never had enough people up in space at the same time to have any sort of significant interaction (that people on Earth would care about), but once we get to the point that we do have that we will start to see regular people taking an interest in it. You’ll notice that even in shows like Star Trek and all the rest, the most interesting parts remain the character to character and culture to culture interactions, and the idea of humanity one day achieving what they have. All the tech and special effects is secondary to this.

  9. Oh, and I voted 20 years in the poll because

    _we’re going to make it happen that way._

    “But what if the funding doesn’t-”

    “Hey. It’ll work. Trust me.”

  10. I agree, the movie was fantastic. What killed me, though, was the Nokia product placement. I’m still angry about that.

  11. Hello!

    As I’m not asking about the movie, I’m writing this as a comment. Plus, others might have answers too.

    What’s wrong with the ENT series?

  12. Enterprise didn’t have any one thing wrong with it. No, the problem was more that it just didn’t quite live up to what had come before, nor its own potential. The Xindi arc and some of the last season was great, but was overwhelmed by the dead weight of the mediocre episodes. Also, their resolution of the whole Tripp/T’pol thing just really pissed me off.

  13. Just saw the flick myself last night at the 10:05 show. Us and about 14 other people in a huge theater.

    It was awesome (in the large sense). Jared I think you touch on some great points in your review – especially with the casting. The actors did a great job in building this newest entry into the Star Trek universe.

    As I said before, I’m not a huge Trekkie/Trekker/Trekling (whatever) but I have seen every single movie in the theater. This was by far the best theatrical presentation of the Star Trek universe. Even if you’re not a Trek fan, if you love SF, you’ll love this!

  14. The film was a DISGRACE!!!

    It ignored 40 years of established Star Trek canon.

    Real Trekkers see what this film really is- a sub par movie trying to capitalise off the Star trek name.

    Lets hoep the next film undoes the mess crested by this idiotic ‘alternate timeline’

    The film stunk- it was all special effects and no substance.

  15. Part of the point of the movie was to be free of those 40 years of established canon. Why do you think it is that sequels are so rarely as good as the first, especially as you get more of them? After awhile even good sequels can drag a franchise down, the sheer weight of so many stories making writing new ones progressively difficult.
    Star Trek always had the power to inspire, but it was never something that should be taken as gospel. I mean, this is a franchise that had an out of fit actor fighting a guy in a rubber suit really slowly. Not to mention the fact that Star Trek isn’t even internally consistent. (I mean, how many different versions of post 20th century pre-original series histories are there?)

    This movie isn’t to capitalize on the franchise, but to revive it. After Nemesis and Enterprise the flame of Star Trek was nearly put out. What would you really prefer TCD? A dead Trek that ends with the inferior Nemesis, doomed to nothing more than dime novels that betray continuity left and right? Why not embrace a new beginning for Trek? Why is it so bad that we now have an alternate timeline where anything can happen again? It doesn’t destroy anything that happened in the rest of the franchise, but it does bring us a fresh place to go where they haven’t gone before. Really the only other way they could have gotten anything even close to this level of renewal was to set the new movie at least a century after the rest of the series, but that introduces other major problems, the biggest being that they would have to introduce an entire new crew, and the galaxy would necessarily be a much more explored place.

    The special effects were spectacular in the film, but to heighten the story, not hide the lack of one. Granted Nero is one of the weakest villains, but as I’ve said before, this is a story about the Enterprise and its crew coming together, not the Enterprise tackling some impossible evil.

    Personally, I think that true Trekkers have to love the series enough to admit that it isn’t perfect, not in form, and certainly not in cohesion. Life is change. If you don’t change you die. Star Trek needed to change, and I firmly believe that this change will result in a stronger Trek, more popular than ever before. In the end, what does it matter how profound and relevant Star Trek is if no one watches it?

  16. I’ve been a trekker since the seventies and so grew up on TOS re-runs before the TNG revival. Indeed I’m a fan of all the series.

    I approached the movie with apprehension, hoping against hope Abrams and co. would do a good job with this re-boot.

    Now I’ve just seen the move, and while it has it’s positives, for me, this movie simply is NOT Star Trek.

    Personally, I’ve no problem with the parallel universe idea, the cast was fine, the special effects fantastic. Weak villain, but we’ve seen that before. We seen the characters assembled and now are ready to boldly go. Woo-hoo.

    But I kept getting bumped out of the movie but often obscure (often no so) details.

    I wondered…was this the Star Wars universe at times. Scotty’s collegue appeared to be an Ewok.
    Sulu’s unfolding rapier reminded me of the unfolding goa’uld helmets in Stargate.

    This seems to be sci-fi by numbers, to please as many as possible. It’s Star Trek: The Search for Cash :-(

    And honestly the film would have worked just as well with any characters.

    The plot was strained and relied on coincidences.

    Nonetheless, the result is a slick film that revives the franchise. For that I’m grateful.

    The greatest error in the plotline, I believe, is that they couldn’t undo the destruction of Vulcan. I don’t recall many TOS episodes where the “status quo” wasn’t restored at the end of a episode.

    So the cost of this new parallel Star Trek universe was apparently six billion (albeit imaginary) souls. Hmm…..

    LLaP

  17. I loved the movie. I hated the movie. I am torn. My husband is a trekkie and I am a trekker. There is a difference you know. I find that I am having to grieve the loss of a known universe, my husband is thrilled at going where no man has gone before for the first time a second time around.
    Let’s see where it is going. As a creature of habit I hate the major, major rip in the timeline, as a fan I loved the potrayals of the new kirk, spock, and the rest of the crew.
    *sighs*

  18. The last Star Trek is not good in comparison with the first movies for the cinema. First six movies are the best.

  19. I have to partially disagree with you there folder. Wrath of Kahn, The Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country were great films, but the same cannot be said for The Motion Picture, The Search for Spock, and especially not for The Final Frontier. I mean, the odd number curse is a famous superstition among Trek fans for a very good reason. This film, the eleventh in the series, finally breaks that curse. I am divided as to which I consider better, this one or Kahn, but I do think it a bit better than IV or VI. First Contact I actually thought got undeserved bad reviews, and Insurrection was good, though in a very different tone than the rest of the series. Generations however felt like merely a two part episode of the series (and really, they shouldn’t have killed Kirk, at least not like that) and Nemesis was fun, but not very good at all. (Still better than V, and maybe I) That said, none of the Next Generation films were as good as the best of the first six, nor this new one.

  20. @Paul

    You are right in that the TOS returned more or less to the status-quo at the end of each episode (unless you look from the red-shirt P.O.V.), but if you look at movies I-VI that isn’t true at all. Otherwise the Klingons wouldn’t have signed the treaty in VI, the Enterprise wouldn’t have blown up in III, and oh, yeah, Spock wouldn’t have died in II. (Now I *know* he ‘got better’, but no one was sure that was going to happen at the time). Besides all that, actually introducing long-term consequences *adds* to the storytelling value of the movie. It makes their actions more real and far more significant. To pull an example from another Sci-Fi reboot, BSG (orig) more-or-less maintained the ark in space approach throughout its run, while Ron Moore’s vision had lasting changes and effects every single ‘fraking’ season or even episode. BSG went through half its cast by the end, and was a better story for it. People I’m sure feel sorrow for the loss of Vulcan just as BSG fans mourned the loss of any number of the cast who died. Why cheapen the emotional value of the story just so we can hit a magic reset button?

  21. Reply to Santiago

    Of course, long term consequences add to the storyline…but do you really think Vulcan will ever again get a mention in a sequel?

    “Emotional value”? To long term fans, yes. For newbies, which this reboot is obviously also aimed at, why would they care?

    Regarding magic reset button:

    TWOK- Yes I was there…but the ending: the photon tube on Genesis…hello. And don’t you remember “Remember”?! Even the Kobayashi Maru scene…I still vividly remember the hoorays when Kirk burst into the “destroyed” bridge

    TSFS: my first thought afterwards was…I wonder what the new Enterprise will look like

    TVH: well, we can’t have life on Earth destroyed now, can we!

    TUC: but it’s okay if “enemy” moons get blown up, especially if it was their fault. BUT the destruction was not intentional

    Generations: as they’re innocent, we can’t have Veridian Whatever blown to pieces…and stay destroyed

    Insurrection: not a quite reset, more of a holographic reset, but the plot was to prevent the wiping out of the innocent Ba’ku.

    So magic reset IS a part of the Star Trek universe (or should that be multiverse) and doesn’t necessarily effect the emotional value of a story.

    As I said this movie is not quite Star Trek…for me. And not just for the Vulcan incident.

    In fact, I’ve worked out that NEVER were we ever in the same universe or timeline as previously established.

    Romulans are recognised as such and their connection with Vulcan. Uhura speaks all three dialects of the Romulan language. Neither of these are a problem for the movie.

    But in Star Trek “Prime” universe,in Kirk’s era the Romulans were a mystery having negociated a peace treaty with the Federation over radio. I doubt prime Romulans would have been particularly chatty enough for anyone to work out dialects, notwithstanding Hoshi’s wonderful universal translator.

    So, I don’t see the Romulans as enemies, per se, of the Federation in the new Star Trek, but more as neighbours. Again, I’ve no problem with this, it’s just different. And, as such, it’s not a criticism.

    It’s Star Trek, Jim, but not as you know it.

    Overall, this Star Trek is an entertaining sci-fi movie. As such, I’d give it 7/10. Any sci-fi fan should go and see it.

    Peace, and Long Life.

  22. I hate to say this Paul, but your logic about this never being the main universe is flawed. It is true that in the main continuity after the Earth/Romulan war no one saw them again until Kirk encountered them at the border of the neutral zone, much less guessed at their connection to Vulcan. What you are forgetting is the impact of the attack on the Kelvin a full quarter century before Nero’s attack on Vulcan. The crew of the Kelvin obviously would not have had any idea that the Narada was a Romulan vessel, but at least some of the survivors saw the transmission from Nero’s flunky, and how clearly he resembles a Vulcan. Under those circumstances the Vulcan’s would, eventually at least, admit to their relation to the Romulans, Starfleet logically needing to know where the attack had come from, especially since they had no way of knowing the Narada was from the future. Once Starfleet had figured that out they would have been forced to send a fleet to the neutral zone, attempting to contact the Romulans and demand an answer for the unprovoked attack. (side note, some of the background chatter on the Kelvin indicates that they were near a neutral zone, and not with the Klingons) The Romulans would in turn be forced to respond to the fleet on their doorstep, especially since they really were innocent of the attack. (The acusation itself would be seen as an insult to the proud senate) It is in fact quite possible that there was a skirmish or war between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, decades before Uhura entered the academy and learned the language.
    That was the whole point of the Kelvin’s destruction. Even one such event would radically alter the timeline. We see it mainly in Kirk’s delay in entering Starfleet, due to the absence of his role-model father, but the destruction of the Kelvin could also easily be responsible for the changes in Spock’s balance between Human and Vulcan. (Romulan’s tie to Vulcan coming out would concern the Vulcan people, who would logically worry that it might be taken as disloyalty or cause for suspicion, which in turn causes greater scrutiny on those outside of the main Vulcan tradition such as Sarek and Spock especially, hence the bullies calling Sarek a traitor [mind you this is only an example, and not necessarily true, the point being that one change effects everything] and Spock becoming less inclined to follow those who see his human side as a handicap, eventually leading to embracing his human half more)
    Anyway, I’ve gone on a bit too long already, my point is that it is the main universe up until the Narada appears and destroys the Kelvin, at which all bets are off.

  23. Hi Jarad…and everyone else reading! As I’m not a Vulcan, I’m not the slightest bit insulted if you disparage my logic. Indeed, your scenario is logical and I like it.
    However, I doubt the Vulcan’s would admit anything, especially given their depiction in Enterprise. Logically, the Vulcans might argue, the surviving bridge crew of the Kelvin saw a Vulcanoid. The Romulan connection may be considered more dirty linen they Vulcan wouldn’t want to air in public particularly after the Syrranite “revolution” and downfall of the Vulcan High Command (which would be in recent Vulcan memory).
    Even if they did, and Starfleet tries to engage with Romulus. Would enemy Romulus react with anything other than suspicion and distrust? A skirmish? More likely another war, now with Romulan honour at stake. The result of Nero’s intervention is more likely to alienate (if you pardon the pun) Romulans and the Federation further than in prime timeline.

    Regarding Cadet Uhura and Romulan language. There wouldn’t be enough data. There would be some from 22nd century war and a little more from the post Kelvin skirmish/war peace negociations. Here comes the nerdy bit since I actually teach linguistics. 22nd century Romulan need not / probably would not be the same as 23rd century Romulan as languages (and dialects) change over time. Uhura (or anybody) could get their point across…but dialect subtlety no way.

    Add to the fact that information about the enemy – even linguistic information – would be restricted [BTW, I have real world evidence for this concerning Russian]. Cadet Uhura is unlikely to have access to such classified material. Then again if they give the flagship to a bunch of cadets, I don’t know!

    IMO, a friendly, neighbourly Romulus would better provide for all this scenario to work, and they need to be friendly (or, at least, never to have warred against Earth/Feds) prior to Nero’s arrival. After the Kelvin incident, as you say, all bets are off.

    To sum up, the movie is either is in prime universe’s alternative timeline or an alternative-prime universe’s alternative timeline. Either way, it’s Star Trek but not quite as we know it!

  24. Those are some valid points Paul. Personally I find it quite refreshing that we just don’t know. At this point I don’t think there was full out war with the Romulans (i.e. Pike telling Nero that he was committing an act of war) but certainly increased contact earlier than normally happened. This is a new Star Trek, and I am quite excited to see where it goes. Roddenberry himself hoped that someone would eventually do Trek bigger and better than he could with the money/technology available at the time. It’s certainly looks better than before, and I think it is off to a great start. Not a perfect start, mind you, but then it is only humans involved at every level, so perfection was never an option. Now they just need to not screw it up.

  25. I’ve watched the movie again and there are quite a few things which, I’m convinced, the “magic reboot button” of Nero’s arrival doesn’t explain. Is that important? Not for the success of the movie. And I’m not expecting perfection. (Re: Pike- he would have said that to anyone who destroyed the armada and was attacking a federation planet).
    Yes, the Great Bird’s hopes are realised here…but the same can be said of all the other Trek incarnations.
    My peeve would be that where (for instance) TMP was seen as too cerebral, this Star Trek is under-cerebral…and, for me, doesn’t bear up wonderfully on repeat viewing. Am I expecting too much? No – this is supposed to be Star Trek, after all. Nonetheless, there is significant potential.
    Overall, I wholeheatedly agree with your sentiment, Jared. Here’s hoping the even numbered movie trend continues…”and the sky’s the limit!”

  26. I was a fan of this serie when i was a child, most of my friends grow up with that too. I use to stay awake until mid night, and so watching in other lenguage to stay in line with the last episode. But today the spark has got lost, it seems boring to me… im still loving it, but the old one generation.

  27. Here was the problem:

    The franchise was dying — almost dead. No further movies could have been made that would have been any good had they kept sending the Roddenberry-originated Trek filmss out to do imperfect battle with the other parts of the Trek multiverse.

    The solution Abrams and company found allows them to keep the parts of the old that they can use, and to do so with verve and flair. Every single person on screen was filled with energy — even the octogenarian Nimoy — energy that they used to make excellent performances.

    Oh, and while Roddenberry was a competent director, Abrams is a visionary on the order of John Ford. That’s shown right in the opening minutes, where gentle, almost elegiac music plays during a scene where most directors would have tried to blow us away with bombast. Roddenberry approached both the TV and movie productions like he was building a bridge: Brick by brick construction. Abrams in contrast seems to be a whirling dervish who also happens to be a Cordon Bleu chef, collecting the ingredients for something that you can’t quite divine — until he’s finally done, and you see he’s created a marvelous mushroom soufflé.

  28. First six movies for the cinema are the best. This Star Trek movie is not very good.

  29. @Justin I agree.I hate when movies have product placements. It is just like your starting to enjoy the movie then bummer.@TCD I also agree with you that special effects played a huge part in the movie. The development in technology fell sort to maintain the integrity of the story. Somehow you get lost in the special effects that you dont really get to ingest the story.

  30. @delite – loved your comment – I’m a trekker and he’s a trekkie! I’n my house it’s the other way around. Sorry guys…just not a full blown trekkie.

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