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“Star Trek” – My Review ***With Spoilers***

The short review is simple.  If you are really devoted to the current Star Trek canon, you won’t like it.  For everyone else, you’ll probably like this movie.  Taken on it’s own, it is a good movie, albeit with a few minor problem here and there.  And most people won’t even notice the problems.

The acting is very good.  Chris Pine’s performance as the young Jim Kirk is especially well done.  When the guy is on the screen, you just have to look at him.  And he has the character of the young Kirk down pat:  Brash, womanizing, risk-taking, and self-confident. Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy is also well played, and we even got an “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” out of him.  Zachary Quinto expresses the conflict between emotions and logic that plagues his character with surprising subtlety.  Zoe Saldana’s Uhura is, for practically the first time in 40 years, an interesting character, with a story and a life.

The dialogue is sharper and wittier than we’re used to seeing in a Star Trek movie, and the wit pops up in unexpected places, like Capt. Pike’s first encounter with Nero, the Romulan villain of the piece:  “I’m Captain Christopher Pike, of the Federation starship Enterprise.” “Hi, Christopher, I’m Nero.”  The back-and-forth banter between the Spock and McCoy characters that was so much a part of the original series is presented well in the new movie.

The action in the film is practically non-stop, with hardly any time to catch your breath.  So, the film is tightly scripted, which makes the 2.5 hour running time seem like much less.

Based on the above, I rate the movie very highly.

I did mention some problems though, and I’d like to address them.  I can’t do that, though, without giving away some spoilers.

Do not read any more, unless you’re willing to encounter serious spoilers.

This is your last warning.

Look, can we stop the whole time-travel thing?  Nero comes back from the future to destroy Vulcan, because Old Spock failed to save Romulus from destruction by a supernova.  Of course, that means Spock has to come back in time, too.  Why all the time travel?  It’s become the Star Trek cliché.  Can’t these guys just stay stuck in their own time, like decent people?

And why is Nero so mad at Spock  that he has to destroy Vulcan?  Spock didn’t cause the supernova, you understand, he wasn’t able to stop it in time.  Nero’s hot Romulan chick got smoked, so he decides that he’s gonna kill 6 billion Vulcans. Not because Spock did anything particularly evil–or even wrong–but because he had bad timing.  And when Spock goes back, he does so not to save Vulcan–which he could have done–but to tell his younger version to start a bromance with Jim Kirk.  Spock could have destroyed Nero’s huge ship any time.  He just…didn’t.  Really?

Young Jim Kirk goes to the academy.  One of his classmates is Leonard “Bones” McCoy.  One of the senior classmen is Uhura.  Spock, of course, is already a commander.  Three years later, Nero appears and starts making trouble.  All the academy students are given ship assignments to go out and fight. Uh, why?  Are all the ships in Starfleet uncrewed?  Will they fight better if they have their established crews, and a whole bunch of academy students as extra baggage?  This just doesn’t make any sense.

So, Jim gets aboard the Enterprise–He’s a third-year Academy student, remember–where Chris Pike is the Captain, Uhura–also an academy student–is already a lieutenant (WTF?), and Commander Spock is the First Officer.  Pike has to go aboard Nero’s ship, so he puts spock in command, and designates Academy Junior Kirk as First Officer.  Oh, and McCoy, who is also a 3rd-year student is also a Lieutenant Commander. (So, OK, McCoy was already an MD, so I get the idea that he gets a direct commission to a higher rank.  We do that in the US military.)  But how does Jim Kirk get to be the First Officer?  Then, after Vulcan is destroyed, Spock is all emotionally higgeldy-piggeldy ’cause him Mom got killed, so he turns the ship over to Jim Kirk, who is now captain of the Federation’s newest starship, while still a 3rd-year academy student. And, when it’s all over, Kirk is promoted to captain, and is given the Enterprise as his first command–and his first space posting. How does that happen?  Who in their right mind turns over command of a starship to a student who’s never had any space duty?

Let’s go back and talk about that supernova, by the way.  It’s described as a supernova that threatens to destroy the whole…galaxy.  One supernova?  The whole galaxy?  Really?  Am I missing some basic science here?

Finally, there was a glaring continuity error.  In once scene, a Romulan phaser is shown on the floor beside Kirk, just a few seconds before the Romulan that Kirk takes it from actually gets into the scene.  You see it on the floor again, after Kirk shoots the Romulan with it and drops it.

Like I said above, it’s a really fun movie.  But there were a couple of really stupid things about it.

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26 Responses to “Star Trek” – My Review ***With Spoilers***

  • A great way to spend a couple of hours, but…

    Just why is it that Spock is not capable of command after being tricked into betraying his emotions, yet is perfectly fit to return to command as First Officer, so long as he is subordinate to the man who tricked him?

    So long as Spock is capable of time travel, WHY does he not return in time to save his mother?

    And…and…Uhuru and Spock? Wha’ th’…?

    • 1. Spock and Nero were drug into the blackhole.  He was not able to control the time travel, so he could not direct when he would arrive.  He had NO control.  As shown in the movie, they both were drug through at the same time, but Nero arrived 25 years before Spock arrived.  Non-controllable time travel.

      2. In old Spock’s time frame, Vulcan and his mother, live their full existence/life.  Spock did not know that a) Nemo was hell-bent on revenge and b) Nero was going to destroy Vulcan.  Old Spock came through the blackhole and was immediately captured by Nero.  He had NO idea what was going to happen because a whole new timeline has been established.
      3. With Spock losing his mother, he was emotionally unstable, which led to the Uhuru kiss.  Perhaps, due to his mother’s death, he will embrace more human emotions.  Plus, as Spock said, he is part of an endangered species, he needs to help procreate the Vulcan people.

  • I can let the “Kirk is first officer” part from Pike being the guy to get Kirk to join up.  Pike’s taken a special interest in Kirk, that much is obvious, so right then and there deciding that the guy who has “something that Starfleet could use more of” (or however he put it in the bar) KINDA makes sense to me.

    Getting the ship could be on the special request of Pike, based on how Kirk handled himself.

    *shrug*

    Like I tell people…  if the Khan/Chekov error instills in you NerdRage that is over 9000, don’t see it.  If you got past that glaring error ok, you’ll like this just fine.  The Uhura/Spock romance thing bugged me, but the way they intorduce Bones made up for that.  I’m very glad to see that he came by his rampant cynicism honestly, as a victim of a horribly nasty divorce.  His line “I like him” about Spock made me smile warmly too, knowing he would change his opinion soon…  Was happy to hear “Are you out of your Vulcan mind??” too.

    I loved Quinto as Spock, and I have to say that Peck nailed Scotty, and the guy who played Chekov was brilliant.  Having to re-say the code to access ship-wide was so great…  the Computer doesn’t even understand the dirty commie…  :)

    Also, I don’t think Spock went back to save Vulcan, because when he left, that hadn’t happened.  He went back to stop the star from going nova….

    I dunno.  To quote Miles O’Brian(s) “I hate tempral mechanics…”

  • who knew Eric Bana was a “Trekkie”?  He did a great job as the villain though seriously

  • Yes, there were definitely some questionable plot points in the movie, but I think most of the problems can be attributed to bad writing and time constraints.  To wit:

    1) The galaxy-destroying supernova: I took the threat of the supernova to be political rather than physical, seeing as a normal supernova wouldn’t have the destructive force necessary to damage anything within a small number of light years.  A supernova within spitting distance of the seat of the Romulan Empire could potentially destabilize the political balance of the galaxy, as the various powers jockey to fill the vacuum left by a wounded (perhaps mortally so) empire or the remaining Romulans take drastic measures to shore up their remaining influence.  A supernova wouldn’t physically “destroy” the galaxy, but it sure would create some noticeable havoc.

    2) Under-crewed ships: The rescue fleet put together for the mission to Vulcan could have been comprised of ships that were in some sort of reserve fleet status.  I’ve driven by the the <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Inactive_Ship_Maintenance_Facility” target=”_blank”>Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility</a> in Philadelphia more times than I can count, and my memories of seeing ships in various stages of readiness and commissioning provide something of answer to the problem of Federation ships floating around without full crews.  I’d posit that the rescue fleet was a mishmash of ships on short-turnaround reserve status, ships awaiting serious overhauls and refits and older ships relegated to teaching cruises a la Enterprise in <i>Star Trek II</i>.  Any ship in the above categories would likely have reduced or skeleton crews for the most part, considering that the Federation had a pressing need for fully-crewed and battle-ready ships on the border areas to counter the Romulan and Klingon threats.

    3) Posting the cadets to immediate ship-board billets: I might be talking out of my backside here, but the last time I toured West Point the guide mentioned something about upperclassmen having the option of spending the summer months with an Army unit.  The fleet academy in the Star Trek universe could conceiveably run such a program, sending older cadets to serve with normal ships and crews, and would at least give the cadets some amount of preparation for starship duty.  A few months aboard a ship wouldn’t exactly make a seasoned officer out of a cadet, but a few months would be a lot better than no time at all.

    The humanitarian nature of the rescue mission also probably played a part in the decision to press the cadets into active service.  Mission specifics were rather vague, only pointing to some sort of geological disturbance on Vulcan and saying nothing about a hostile enemy force.  The ships of the rescue fleet weren’t expected to enter into combat but rather to ascertain the nature of the disturbance and, if necessary, help evacuate the planet.  The fleet needed warm bodies, and the cadets were apparently judged to be good enough (or expendable enough) for the task at hand.

    That’s not to say that Star Fleet is off the hook on this one.  The intelligence arm of the fleet obviously isn’t on speaking terms with the admiralty, otherwise somebody would have figured that the loss of a fleet of warbirds and a sudden crisis on Vulcan might just be a tad suspicious and have ordered the rescue fleet to proceed with serious caution.  Given the first part of <i>Star Trek: Generations</i>, though, leaving port under-equipped, inadequately-crewed and generally ill-prepared seems to be something of a Federation tradition.

  • I think they used the time travel device to re-boot the series, so to speak.  They now can start from scratch with the same characters we all know and love while
    still keeping the essence of what Star Trek is all about.  I think they did a very good job in that sense.  If you sit and think about the science behind the plot, then there’s problems, but it’s Star Trek, not a debate between experimental plasma physicists and theoretical string theorists.

  • Methinks you doth protest too much. There is precedent for many of your minor continuity glitches. You point out the direct commissioning of medical officers in our current military. You might also note the “component” aspect of our militaries–”Supply” or logistics officers in the Navy for example. Scotty would be an “engineering” officer, Uhuru a “communications” officer, etc. Kirk would logically be a “line” officer.

    As for the third year cadet catapulted into command–I just completed the biography of triple ace fighter pilot Robin Olds. He was in West Point Class of ’44, but they and the class ahead of them were accelerated to graduate in just three years. He entered WW II as a Lt. and in eighteen months was a Major and squadron commander. So, Kirk being taken under Pike’s sponsorship isn’t that inconceivable either.

    I say suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the eye-candy.

  • How many stomach punches do conservatives have to take in this movie?

    • Are you kidding?

      I’m waiting for some nitwit at NRO or RedState or the like, to compare Bush to Kirk.  It’s only a matter of time.  I mean, aftr Bush was compared to Batman, it only would seem natural.  Right?

      It will be some ridiculous theme like Bush, like Kirk the farm boy, is the bold risk-taker who throws caution to the solar winds to kill the bad guy.  While Obama and the like is Spock (Hello!?… black girlfriend!!…), the studious intellectual thinker that wants to meet up with the other Federation (U.N.) and formulate a plan just as the delay actually allows everybody to die.

      And the funny part is… I know that some of you right now, are reading this thinking, “Yeah, Bush is like Kirk…”

      That’s idiotic.
      Bush would be like Kirk if Hussein was a time traveling space Romulan with weapons of mass destruction.  And of course, as we know… none of which was true.

      Cheers.

      btw, great movie.  See it, and leave the political junkie part of you at home.

  • The time travel thing worked this time only because it allowed the reboot–so in that sense I thought it really worked.

    The promotion thing drove me nuts because, to deploy a phrase, it was illogical.  I really liked this film, but it could have been made even better if there had been one more leap forward between the Kobyashi Maru and the Vulcan incident where Kirk and company were already officers.  From there the rank things would have made perfect sense.

    And I concur on the whole supernova thing.

    Also (geek alert):  how did Spock Prime transport Kirk and Scott onto a ship in warp that had been gone for some time?  And how close was Delta Vega to Vulcan?  For the view Spock had of the destruction, it would have had to have been a moon of Vulcan’s, which makes no sense for a variety of reasons.

  • When Nero is sucked back in time, why doesn’t he immediately set a course for his home planet and warn it of the impending disaster? Because Star Trek never really makes sense.

    • Because he correctly figures the good guys (or himself), have plenty of time to do it later, and; why should he care, the Romulus and the romulan woman he knew and loved are still obliterated in his timeline, he still needs “vengeance” for them.

      Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

  • Time travel has been with Star Trek since episode 4 of the original series, “The Naked Time.”  Once you start dealing with the physics of faster-than-light travel, warping the fabric of space-time to travel vast distances, etc. you’re gonna bump into time travel.  And it’s not like Spock and Nero decided to travel back, the blackhole that Spock created did the deciding for them.  This wasn’t the same controlled time travel that was accomplished in, say Star Trek IV, “The Voyage Home.”

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go kick my own @ss out on the playground.

  • Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m happy to see that you at least didn’t mention the use of a HoloDeck, an even bigger crutch that the “time travel” sthick

  • “Who in their right mind turns over command of a starship to a student who’s never had any space duty?”

    The people of the United States of America.
    But I digress………

  • Loved the film and highly recommended go ahead and watch it folks.

  • Having just seen the movie, I think it’s more like “Casino Royale” than a real continuation of the previous movies.  Yeah, if Nero and Spock had both chosen to travel in time, I’d gripe, but using the black hole at least lets me slide on that.  My big quibble was with the solution to the supernova.  If they only needed a miniscule amount to destroy the star, why’d they make so *much* of it and store it all on Spock’s ship?  Did they think he’d miss with the first shot?

    @Steven:  yeah, the whole Delta Vega thing was a problem for lots of reasons.  Why wasn’t it sucked into the black hole?  Is it only a temporary singularity?

  • If I had a complaint to make, and I don’t, they went a skosh too cheap on the set in spots, and I don’t think it was an homage to the cheesiness of the original either.

    Some of the tankage in the engineering section looked too much like it was trucked onto the set from a Tractor Supply Company lot.  The same day they shot.

    Other than that I have no real objections.

    That and I kept on expecting “Sulu” to pipe up with, “In 40 years, I’ll be gay*.” and Chekov to proudly announce that in 20 years, he’d quit turning V into a “wowel”.

    *Yeah, I know that the actor was always homosexual, and the Cyrillic V/W is aboutconsonants–these were just solipsistic internal non-sequitors.

    It’s the best movie I’ve seen in a theater this year.

    ‘Course it’s the only movie I’ve seen in a theatre all year.

    Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

  • The number of things wrong with this movie is tremendous.

    1. Product placement of Nokia in the first 20 minutes.
    2. Budweiser?
    3. What about that whole “I’m Kirk, I’m a badass, I drove a  car over a ledge” sequence yet no one cares later?
    4. So the Vulcans build a bomb so big, they can’t put a lock and key on it?
    5. How exactly do you convince Spock you need to use his huge ass bomb to kill 6 billion of his own people? He lets you?
    6. *How* exactly does a mining ship outgun the best equipped starship? (Even a 129 year advanced mining ship)
    7. So Nero’s ship is hanging out in Vulcan space for 20 years. What about refueling?
    8. How does such a BIG ASS SHIP equipped for MINING go UNNOTICED for TWENTY YEARS?
    9. Okay, so obviously they had enough time to research and build this big ass bomb, and put it on the fastest ship the Vulcans have access too.  Uhh, why not evacuate the Romulan planet?
    10. One ship, is gonna destroy the earth. Where are the Earth defenses? 400 years latter we have *zero* defenses?
    11. Since when can a writer decide to kill 6 BILLION people as a plot device? It wasn’t even portrayed as a big deal. IT WAS USED TO SHOW HOW THE RED MATTER WORKS. You know why the audience doesn’t care? Because the Earth home world wasn’t destroyed. Reverse it, what if Earth was destroyed first, you know, to show how upset Nero was. Somehow doesn’t seem like such a great victory now.
    12. Young Spock doesn’t get a commendation for saving the federation either? How the hell do you win an award with these people?
    13. Winona rider and the guy from Shawn of the Dead? Why not his fat friend, Nick Frost? I’m sure you could have worked out a role for him.
    14. Over Use Of Time Travel Pisses Off Audiences.
    15. The escaping a black hole bit. If the Enterprise is already going faster-then-light, how is a slower the light explosion going to help?
    16. Kirk is marooned on a planent. He gets out of his pod, and is chased by a beast, which *happens* to get kicked out of they way by a bigger beast, which chases him, then *happens* to get saved by a future Spock. He’s a lucky fucker isn’t he?
    17. The planet Kirk is dumped on is basically empty, except for the most valuable plot device maybe in the entire history of cinema, someone who knows the formula to the warp speed matter transfer thing. How convienient.
    18. In the future, computers will suck ass at everything. Including voice identification, targeting, and ship flying. They will be very good at giving out their build date though.
    17. Somehow cadets are on the bridge for the flagship of a starfleet? WTF?
    18. The guy that speaks poorest, is the communications officer?
    19. Had to put that lukewarm sword sequence in on the drilling platform didn’t you. Because swords are badass.

    These are just the things I remember waking from a dead sleep feeling compelled to find a place to post this. I blame the asshole JJ Abrams responsible for such shitty movies like cloverfield, and Lost drivel.  The ending kind of loses its appeal when your lead actor tells everyone deadpan that his plan is going to *work*.  You believe him because after all the writers can just make up any shit they want because most of the audience will just be dazzled by the cool whiz-bang special effects anyway.

    • Wow.  Other than that, how’d you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

    • 6.  A mining ship would probably have extensive, extremely powerful, energy-based digging tools as well as powerful gravitic tractors and pressors.  It couldn’t out defend or out maneuver, but in terms of basic damage-making ability, an energy tool designed to cut through asteroids could easily be converted into a formidable weapon.  Likewise it would carry modern explosives or their analog for breaking up large asteroids.  these can be converted, assuming a decent fabrication shop on board, into powerful warheads.

      7.  How much fuel would it use sitting still without operating it’s energy-hog tools?  How much bunkerage does it have to operate those tools under normal load?

      8.  Got any idea how friggin BIG space is?  Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, “wow, that’s big”, time. Infinity is just so big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we’re trying to get across here.

      All the rest I have no answer for, as I haven’t seen the movie yet, but those three are easy.

  • <blockquote>And, when it’s all over, Kirk is promoted to captain, and is given the Enterprise as his first command–and his first space posting. How does that happen?  Who in their right mind turns over command of a starship to a student who’s never had any space duty?</blockquote>

    This really bothered me at first – but I realized there was one excuse.  If this movie is in fact the pilot for a new television series, I’ll buy this as dramatic license to start the TV series with Kirk as Captain.   Even so, I would have ended it with him as ensign on some other ship, and started the TV series with a <i>different</i> set of dramatic events leading to him becoming Captian of the Enterprise, but whatever.

    Given the amount of backstory we got on the leaeds, and the lack of dramatic payoff of that in the movie, it only really makes sense as a pilot.  Here’s hoping.

  • Well, you have your main fleet out on the border, quelling something or ‘nother…

    They you need to crew some new star ships with who ever was available, for a ‘rescue’ mission.

    Only 1 of those star ships survived that ‘rescue’ mission.  So, now the Federation has the ships that are still on the border.  Where you could possibly make some adjustments to crew, in order to get some more experienced members to the Enterprise.  Or you take what you got and send them on a fact finding mission in east bum f’k universe for 5 years.

  • Yeah…and another thing…what about that huge truth slug that went into Pike? How’d they get it out of him?

  • The Spock – Uhru romance produced the Black Vulcan that showed up in the later Star Trek series.  So the concept of ‘Love Child’ running wild exists!