Oh, yeah, I can hear it already: “What a cranky-pants! She doesn’t know how to enjoy a silly sci-fi action movie! She’s such a purist, she was probably picking apart every scene!” Well, yes and no. Yes, I’m a Trekkie (and no, I’m not one of those who insists on the silly, haughty “Trekker” moniker). I’ve been to five Star Trek conventions in my time (you know, research, or whatever), and no, I never wore pointy ears, but yes, Star Trek movies and episodes have made me cry. I watched all of The Next Generation religiously, but trailed off on Deep Space Nine, and only saw a handful of episodes of the series spawned after that. But I do still want Patrick Stewart to read me the phone book, and I think William Shatner is a completely underrated comic talent. There’s nothing wrong with that.
So I brought a little bit of baggage when I saw Star Trek… make of it what you will.
Rather than introduce a whole new crew, as each of the television series did (for the most part), Star Trek is an origin story. Let’s go back to where it all began, literally with James Tiberius Kirk being birthed on an escape pod as his dad, a starship captain for 12 minutes, saves 800 souls by sacrificing himself to the bad guys. We also see Spock as a smart little kid, who is mocked by surprisingly mean Vulcan kids (aren’t they supposed to NOT have feelings, including anger???). He’s half-human, and has Winona Ryder for a mom, two things that, admittedly, would be tough for any kid. These two kids will collide as young adults years later at the Starfleet Academy when brainy and logical Spock (Zachary Quinto) clashes with brash, cocky, womanizing farm boy Kirk (Chris Pine).
In the meantime, there is a bad guy out there. He is Romulan, but not TV Romulan with Vulcan-esque features and quilted, shoulder-padded jackets. Nero (Eric Bana) and his ilk are sweaty, thuggy, and have facial tattoos in addition to the pointy ears. And Nero is really mad. He is really really mad. He is so mad he has come from the future to kick Spock’s butt for something that hasn’t happened yet. Nero has issues, as he and his monstrous pointy ship leap in and out of a time-travelling black hole to wreak havoc. Plus Nero has a lot of patience. When they’re not blowing up other ships, I suppose they’re just sitting around, waiting and stewing a lot. Needless to say, Nero is surprisingly unmemorable for a villain. Does anyone remember Khan? The Borg Queen? It is up to the villain to steal the show, and through no fault of Bana (who can be a fine actor), Nero just isn’t given much to do.
When a distress call goes out from some Federation ships, who is called to go and check out the potentially dangerous situation across the galaxy? Why, a bunch of cadets from Starfleet Academy, of course. Instantly you have a very familiar crew thrown onto the famous Starship Enterprise: Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, McCoy, and Kirk (as a stowaway). They fall right into Nero’s trap, of course, and who other than Kirk, Spock, and our other favorite characters band together to save the day and gain command of the Federation ship, as cadets often do.
Sure it is silly. That’s not what bothered me. Some of the cast was earnestly trying to imitate their pop icon characters carefully as not to offend (Karl Urban as McCoy and Quinto as Spock), while others brought a surprising freshness to their roles (Zoe Saldana as Uhura, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov) while still being familiar. Then, better late than never, Simon Pegg shows up as Scotty and completely steals the whole movie.
But how is Kirk? Chris Pine had to fight to get me to forget his annoying performance in the indie wine hit Bottle Shock, and wasn’t entirely successful. He strikes me more as an overconfident kid than a captain, and plus, was it just me, or his upper lip distracting? He almost has a Meg-Ryan-with-Botox thing going. Anyway, he was OK, but just OK for me.
Sure, I admit, a lot of people are bound to enjoy Star Trek. There are fancy special effects as the old school look is updated… just a bit—or enough to make the old look new, while still being true to the original series. The uniforms fit better, and there are more in-jokes in the film than you can throw a Tribble at. But did I love it? No. Do I need to see it again? No. Can I see it launch a new series of films? Sure. I figure, like most television series, it will take a few “episodes” to really get going and get comfortable in its own shoes, so this relaunch has potential. But as far as this particular movie? I give it a shrug.