Just a few notes before I begin. If you haven’t seen the movie, I will try and keep it as spoiler free as possible, but chances are, I will spoil the movie for you…Also, I love the original series of Star Trek. It is my favorite series of all of them and so please recognize that my feelings toward the latest Star Trek movie reflect that passion…
Dir: JJ Abrams
“This is not your father’s Star Trek” was a tagline that was used to promote the newest movie in the Star Trek series, and it really worried me. I was never really excited about seeing the movie, let’s face it, the last few movies were pretty boring and Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future was tarnished and kicked to the curb. All that began to change with the premiere of the third trailer of the movie which felt epic and really got me excited about seeing a Trek movie for the first time since Star Trek First Contact. I heard that it was going to be a reboot – something I really don’t mind when done correctly (think James Bond and Casino Royale) but also tend to get bothered by when its just done for the sake of doing something different.
The start of the movie had me from the get-go. The starship Kelvin gets pummeled by a Romulan ship while George Kirk’s wife is giving birth to his son, Jim. These are people I’ve heard about and it was heart wrenching to watch what transpired. So right away I was hooked into the movie. Watching Kirk and Spock grow up was also fun and engaging and there are tweaks here and there that are different from what we know, but within the creative rights to re-imagine. There are great references to Trek 2, some classic Trek lines and episodes, and even a throw away reference to the show Enterprise. JJ and his writers had me hook, line, and sinker.
Overall, I thought this was a great movie, with a great story line and above all else passes the great litmus test I have for Star Trek movies: Something big happens. There are fundamental changes to our characters – most of which I thought were for the better. The classic supporting cast of McCoy, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, and Sulu all felt like the classic characters and their updates felt natural and with the times. Kirk and Spock also felt right – and updating of a classic that was new and familiar all at the same time.
And then it happened. They lost me. At one point in the movie, the writers decided to go too far with their liberties and do something that I thought was so reprehensible and disrespectful that I completely became detached emotionally from the film. It was like a cell phone going off in the theater or the film breaking or someone ripping off a band-aid.
After calming down, I understand why they did it, but do not in any way agree with the decision. There were so many other things to do to get to the same point in the plot, that it reeked of cheapness and cop out and gimmicky. It was the moment when I felt the writers were just doing it to say they “rebooted the franchise and to prove it we did this” and no more. I think someone must have realized it in the development of the story, because it was at this point that Leonard Nimoy appears in the movie as the Spock we know and love and I think in a way he helps smooth over the open wound.
I will give them credit for trying to work back into my good graces, but the last half of the movie just felt rushed. Things fell into place too fast and easily, and it seems like everything is back on track despite the changes. But you know what? I just didn’t care. I had no connection to these strangers with familiar names pretending those I really cared about. Very disappointing since it all started out so well.
Maybe I am overreacting (duh, its a movie), and on repeated showings and as the years progress, I will probably like it more. Remember, I HATED Generations when it came out for killing Kirk (another reprehensible gimmick), but over the years have grown to respect it as a great character development piece. I think this Star Trek will do the same. You really get to know the characters better and see them develop and see major events shape their lives. In that sense, JJ and company have succeeded.
In the end, despite my frustration I want to reiterate that overall I thought this movie is a great movie – it will appeal to a great many different people – Trek fans and non-Trek fans. I hope this makes Star Trek more accessible and the classic series and the Next Gen/DS9/VOY series’ more popular than ever before. It will lead to another movie, which I am certain will be much better than this one (it will be an even one!), and I hope that it keeps the franchise going for years to come.
I just wish they didn’t have to blow up a certain planet and kill off a certain lady to do it. That really pissed me off.
Captain’s Log Supplemental: How does this movie rate with the others? This changes over time for me and is constantly evolving. I will have to go back and look at my old reviews from the 1990s to see how the last 20 years or so have changed my views, but this is how it rates the same day after seeing the new movie. I will expand my thoughts on these and why they are where they are on a later date..
1 – The trilogy series (2-3-4)
2 – The Undiscovered Country
3 – First Contact
4 – Star Trek 2009
5 – Generations
6 – Star Trek The Motion Picture
7 – The Final Frontier
8 – Insurrection
9 – Nemesis