I’ll admit I was doing my best to keep my expectations low, but even if my expectations were high I think I would have been very, very satisfied.
By the time you read this I am going to hope you have seen the movie and so there will be minor SPOILERS, but because I enjoyed this movie so much and hope that this review will inspire those who have not yet seen it to go out and see it I will keep the major spoilers to a minimum – or at least separate them from the main part of this review.
The poster promise that “This Isn’t Your Father’s Star Trek” is no joke, but the nice thing is, while this is definitely not your father’s Trek, it is has the correct amount of reverence for your father’s Trek.
It is the story of Spock and Kirk and their developing friendship. The tie to the old show(s) is there, but through the logical use of a well used conceit (see time travel) we get the satisfaction that all of the years of Trek history that fans have loved is still intact while still leaving plenty of room for a new series to grow – with all of the characters that Trekkies have been writing slash fiction about for decades. J.J. Abrams really managed to get the best of both worlds.
The similarities are there, including all the important continuity. Captain Pike is helming the new Enterprise. Sulu is a fencer, Uhura is a comm officer, etc. The ship looks the same in all the important ways, and is even a bit of a hybrid between the TV show ship and the original movie ship, and the creative team also managed to infuse a bit of the Star Wars “used universe” concept – especially in the first starship we see, the doomed USS Kelvin. What this new movie manages to accomplish and provide that the original series dropped the ball a bit on is giving a back story to all of the main characters.
Before the only characters that had much, if any, back story were Kirk, Spock and McCoy. This film expands on those, and also adds these same levels of background to all of the loyal bridge crew. Majel Barret-Roddenberry is still the voice of the computer, but there is a much more “hands-on” feel to all of the ship work.
In fact the ships in general all feel much more ship-like. The design is actually pretty brilliant. Everyone and their mother has talked about the bridge design. Yes, the glass and white plastic looks great, but the rest of the sets deserve some love too! The engine room is amazingly detailed and looks like that of a battleship or submarine. The quarters are cramped and when you see the bridge, transporter room, and the shuttle bay they all feel very real and small and appropriate on a battleship or explorer ship. The Romulan ship was equally good with a very alien appearance and features that seemed strange to have on a ship at all, but seemed to make sense in their alienness.
The effects were spectacular. I really liked the new phasers, space-drill, space-free fall and the subtle work that was done, especially with the alien faces and designs. The aliens were still remarkably human-with-funny-noses but there were also variations on the theme and some nicely alien-aliens as well.
You may notice there is no mention of any particular performance in this review and that is because everyone – all of the actors in this film – so beautifully filled their rolls that I didn’t feel like I was watching actors, I felt like I was being granted the ability to view living people traveling through space. They were all very good.
This was a very satisfying reboot. The geeky stuff was there for the fans and, as I witnessed by watching Rene, there was plenty for new viewers to keep them interested. Go see this movie. It’s a fun way to start your summer.
That concludes the non-SPOILER -section of this review. If you read past this point it’s on you.
Now I realize that time travel, especially in Trek movies/TV shows is way used – over used even – but I think it’s worth putting aside the stereotype for the sake of this movie. It really resolves all of the continuity issues. Because of this time distortion everything that happens in this new franchise of movies happens in an alternate time-line so it won’t be stuck trying to match old continuity. It also means that there can still be new material made for the old series/time-line. Of course Spock is now stuck in the alternate time-line, but I think that’s a small price to pay.
The opening of the movie is really emotionally charged. The death of Kirk’s father as he is being born made me choke up (and I don’t choke up for anything) and got Rene to cry. Abrams really knows how to mine the sentimentality of a scene and he digs in deeps and leaves a mark with that opening. By the time the title treatment runs you are totally on board, or at least I was.
The destruction of Vulcan was handled pretty well. The use of “red matter” was totally new to me. I’ve never heard of “red matter” and I don’t know if it’s based on actual scientific principle or if it was just a plot device.
I really liked the Kobyoshi Maru sequence. Seeing the old Klingon battle cruisers was great! I would like to have seen more of them. Maybe in the sequel? Please?!!?!?
I would like to know why the destruction of a sun created a time hole and why the black hole that was formed to destroy the ship at the end was just a regular black hole.
I’m also not a huge fan of the “Scotty beamed into the water thing and then pumped through the pipe” bit. It was funny, but I didn’t feel it was super neccessary and he was also under water a long time without dying and the whole hatch opening and only about 20 gallons of water coming out of a man-sized pipe with pressureizes water pumping behind him. I did think it was fun and made sense in old school world of Trek. It’s a very minor gripe.
Actually that’s all I’ve got. I might think of something else later, but today – in the after glow of seeing the movie – I’m very happy.