Wow! J.J. Abrams brought the Star Trek franchise back from the dead in a huge way. Let’s face it, the past few years have not been kind to Trek. Enterprise was kinda dull and a show I could not embrace. And, while I enjoyed the last big screen outing, 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, most people didn’t and it was a disaster at the box office.
I was excited when I heard J.J. was taking Trek on because for the most part I’m a fan of his. The excitement built with the trailers. It all paid off in a huge way at the theater today. I loved this film and haven’t been this bowled over by a Trek film since Wrath of Khan.
Spoilers lie ahead, so if you haven’t seen the film you should probably stop reading now because I’m not editing anything.
Before the titles even came up, you knew something big was brewing since George Kirk was dead. It’s known in the Trek mythos–and is stated later in the film–that George Kirk was the reason James joined Starfleet and that George didn’t die aboard the U.S.S. Kelvin. Of course the next major blow to Trek history is the destruction of Vulcan and the death of Amanda, Spock’s mother.
It’s cliched to use a time travel story in Star Trek but J.J. makes this work as the basis for this reboot. An angry Romulan is out for vengeance on Spock because Spock couldn’t stop the destruction of Romulus in the future. So hes captured Spock and forced him to watch the destruction of Vulcan… something Spock’s younger self also witnesses and cannot stop. Now Kirk, Spock and everyone else operate in a new timeline, thereby not disturbing the history of the Trek we all know since there’s a new parallel timeline. Sure, some may say this wiped out the Trek we already know… but Trek itself has often said there are many parallel time lines so I’m good thinking these two universes exist with a fine line separating them.
The casting in the film is spot on. I thought the whole thing worked out well with new actors playing characters that have been around for 40 years. The only thing that was tweaked was the relationship between Spock and Uhura. Even before the time line shifted, that didn’t seem in keeping with the Spock we know. Among my favorite parts of the film: Sulu and his telescoping sword; Kirk hooking up with a green alien woman who also happens to be Uhura’s roommate at the Academy; Kirk defeating the Kobayashi Maru test; McCoy’s first “I’m a doctor not a…” line.
The Enterprise itself looks great. It keeps the exterior design fans know, but the interior got a nice upgrade. The bridge, sick bay and corridors are appropriately sleek (and inline with how the Enterprise series updated how Starfleet technology looks). It was cool how engineering, for example, looked rougher, less sleek and a lot more dangerous to work around.
I think J.J.’s been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica for his space scenes. The space battles, especially the destruction of the Kelvin at the top of the movie, had a lot of BSG style with the handheld camera jerky look, the music overtones and the way the whole thing was choreographed.
I’ve read that that cast are all signed for at least two more movies (I hope J.J. is too). Given that it’s made $148 million in just two weeks, it would seem at least one sequel is inevitable. I look forward to see what’s up next in this alternate timeline Trek.
It was certainly a lot of fun (and I dearly wish Simon Pegg had had more screen time). I had a few issues (C’mon, they’re going to promote a recently graduated cadet to captain and give him his own starship? I know he saved the galaxy but still…) but overall, I enjoyed myself. Although, one of the people I saw the movie with noted, “Do you realize that they’ve just wiped out the entire continuity of all things STAR TREK?” Which is kind of amazing. They no longer have the rich history to draw on. Everything (with the dubious exception of ENTERPRISE) now no longer happened. Or at least happened in a very different manner. It’s one thing to inject new life into a dying franchise but to completely obliterate all that has gone before…. Wow. I can see doing it with Battlestar Galactica because it didn’t have nearly the following as Star Trek but… wow.