I’ve been grappling with how to review Star Trek since I saw it on Friday in the theater in Jackson.
It was a great action movie. Lots of things blew up, there were some gunfights and a sword fight, and a couple of ship chases, which is the closest sci-fi can usually get to a car chase. There were pretty girls and handsome boys and romance (which I’m not so sure worked). The plot made sense, if you were used to Star Trek convolutedness, particularly whenever time travel comes into the mix.
A great action movie and maybe a great sci-fi movie.
I’m not so sure it was a great Star Trek movie.
Let me explain.
The actors were wonderful. They played their characters almost perfectly, without slavishly imitating the original actors but preserving the essence of the characters. The standouts here were Karl Urban’s McCoy and Simon Pegg’s Scotty, though no one did a bad job or hit a false, jarring note in terms of acting.
The dialogue and the script were also excellent. McCoy’s lines sounded like things McCoy would say. Spock’s lines (mostly) sounded like what Spock would say. If you watched the old TV shows or the older movies, things sounded right.
Yes. There is a but. The problem with the but is that I can’t talk about what I didn’t like without revealing major plot points, so this is your official spoiler warning. Do not read further if you haven’t seen the movie and want to be surprised.
But. (Highlight the following to see…) They changed a lot. The minor changes, I was okay with. Killing Kirk’s dad was an interesting twist. Killing Spock’s mom, I didn’t like so much, but it had to be done in order to show the audience of Trek fans that all bets were off, that this wasn’t your mama’s series and that characters you liked weren’t necessarily safe.
Destroying the entire fargin’ planet Vulcan?
Not cool. Not cool with me at all. Vulcans are my second-favorite Star Trek culture, so I suppose it shocked and annoyed me more than it did most people.
And there was a lot there to like. Nerve pinches, death grips, that bizarre once-every-seven-years mating thing, Surak, pacifism and the cult of logic, the Vulcan uneasy relationship with unsettled, impulsive humanity that made both cultures richer, the IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations) and sehlats… there was a lot there.
I had a Planet of the Apes moment.
You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
I came out of the theater soured and vaguely angry, not because the movie was a terrible mess that no one should ever watch again (Star Trek V: Let us never speak of it) but because it wasn’t. They came so very close to making me almost completely happy as a fan and as a movie-goer, and then they blew up Vulcan. For the rest of the movie I sat there thinking: I can’t believe they did that. I really wish they hadn’t done that.
I still do wish they hadn’t done that.
The only other thing that rang wrong was the Spock/Uhura snoggery. Now it’s not the idea of a relationship between them that seems deeply, deeply wrong. It’s the fact that there was absolutely no lead-up to it whatsoever, or a scene showing how it happened, or anything, and then, more importantly, the fact that they were kissing in public.
Are there any navies out there in which a commander would snog his lieutenant in front of his captain? Where it is no problem at all to have a relationship with a junior officer under your command? That was completely weird, and it made me uncomfortable.
So. It was a good movie. I’m not sure it was a good Star Trek movie.
But when I disliked it the most I kept wondering why the director hadn’t simply removed his pants and defecated all over the fans. Then later I decided it was probably more along the lines of hocking a loogie onto the fans, since calling it poo was definitely an overreaction.
Overall, I’m still not sure I liked it. RIP Vulcan, I guess. You were a good planet with lots of fruitful plots and characters on it. Too bad the director wasn’t a fan.