by Robert Gillis, 5/2009

Approximately three gazillion people have written reviews for this new Star Trek film, and about 90% are positive. (This pleases this Trekker immensely, and the idea that a TREK film will break $200 million — and possibly $400 million or more, is just incredible.)

Since so many reviews have been written, covering every aspect of the film, a review by me wouldn’t be very interesting. For a detailed history of the film, cast, creative process and far more, visit www.TrekMovie.com, which I consider to be THE Star Trek site on the web.

But — I loved the new film, and decided to write my thoughts and impressions anyway.

The Film

  • Film is going to be one of the greatest blockbusters of the year and will easily out-profit all previous Trek films.
  • Scope is epic — NEVER seen anything like this in Trek. This film is HUGE.
  • Film needs to be seen multiple times — so much going on all the time. Constant moving, constant action. Never seen the likes of this in Trek before.

Trek Lore

  • Love the countless subtle nods to past Trek: The tribble, Admiral Archer’s beagle, the apple during the Kobayashi Maru, Sulu’s fencing, etc.
  • The concept of using a new, alternate time line is brilliant; as a device it allows real danger and unthinkable occurrences: The death of Amanda, the destruction of Vulcan.
  • As a Trekker I like the idea of using the year as a basis for a star date.
  • The writers CLEARLY love Trek.

USS Kelvin

  • First minutes of movie breathtaking; NEVER seen Trek this large. Kelvin clearly an early ship, very busy, almost primitive. I like that all the Starfleet officers are portrayed as competent and professional — a first for TOS! The imminent danger and ship evacuation — feels real. Death of George Kirk heartbreaking. The scenes as Kelvin destroyed as Jim Kirk is born — WOW.


Vulcan

  • Spock being bullied by his peers consistent with “Journey to Babel” and show that some things are universal. Jacob Kogan as young Spock is exceptionally good. Great actor.
  • Vulcan council speaks of Spock’s “disadvantage” and elaborates that the disadvantage is his human mother. Spock in turn rejects their admission offer; his “Live long and prosper” is stated in such a way that it can only mean, “and go screw yourselves.”
  • Could not believe the death of Amanda or destruction of Vulcan. The writers have balls, that is for sure. This is definitely an alternate time line!
  • Spock’s speech: “I am an endangered species:” Heartbreaking.
  • Spock’s relationship with Uhura — unexpected but well done.

Starfleet and Enterprise

  • Loved that Enterprise is built in Riverside, Iowa.
  • The scenes of Kirk riding up on his motorcycle into the busy shipyard as the music plays, and he makes his choice, are VERY effective.
  • New Enterprise is just fine; yes very advanced but believable. The ship works.
  • Love the new computer and screen graphics. Nice departure from the LCARS of previous series (which I also like)
  • Bridge redesign is phenomenal.
  • Very cool how the view screen is a window.
  • The Enterprise coming out of the clouds on Titan … Just like TWOK: Awe inspiring.
  • Liked the scene of all the shuttles taking off from the hanger. Made Starfleet seem huge. Caught the Star Wars reference: “Vader” assigned to the USS Hood.
  • Nice to see James Cawley (Star Trek Phase II) on the bridge. His work on his vision of Trek is really good.
  • Like the new cadet uniforms a lot, a little Star Wars-ish but great.
  • The “Classic” uniforms look better than ever.
  • Like that the crew of the Enterprise is very large. Makes it seem more real.
  • Liked the debate between Kirk and Spock during the hearing for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru.
  • Sound design VERY new but just the right amount of old effects.

Effects

  • Easy to summarize: Special effects beyond belief. Like nothing we have ever seen before. A+ start to finish.

Cast

  • Casting perfect.
  • Bruce Greenwood as Pike amazing.
  • Erica Bana good; the writers learned from past mistakes of spending too much time with villain talking (Insurrection, Nemesis). Nero appears as needed to advance story. Not the best villain (that would be Khan or Chang) but good performance.
  • Karl Urban seems to be channeling Deforest Kelley. PERFECT.
  • Anton Yelchin fine as Chekov — saves the day more than once. Liked him since Alpha Dog. He’s got a bright future in acting. Plus, he’s really Russian!
  • Sulu is a bad-ass. Takei must be “beaming!” Cho was a great choice.
  • Quinto is the perfect Spock, ahem, after Mr. Nimoy, of course.
  • Ben Cross as Sarek is very good; but I missed Mark Lenard, RIP. Sarek’s admission that he loves Amanda — powerful. Winona Rider fine as Amanda. Would have liked to see more — she has the character down perfectly.
  • Zoe Saldana is IN-CRED-IBLE as Uhura. FINALLY an important team member. Finally more than a “switchboard operator.” Demands to be on the Enterprise and lists her qualifications. Romance with Spock felt organic and not forced. AND finally — a canonical revelation of her first name.
  • Pegg’s Scotty mostly played for laughs, not a great deal of screen time. Accent perfect.
  • Chris Pine’s Kirk plays just the right balance of all of Kirk’s good and bad qualities without imitating Shatner. The scene of Pine’s Kirk in command gold brought cheers. This guy also has a bright future and was a great choice to play the iconic Kirk.

Spock Prime (Nimoy)

  • Nimoy’s role not a cameo; very, very poignant. Very obvious why he took the
    role.
  • Audience applauded when they saw him.
  • Nimoy’s Spock is organic and very necessary to the plot.
  • The scene with the two Spocks, as Spock-Prime explains “a friendship that would define you both” is a defining moment in all Trek. This is a Spock who is at peace with himself, and Nimoy hits this scene out of the park.


My nipicks and the not-so-good:

  • The lens flares are very cool but get annoying at times.
  • Agree with some folks who say that Spock Prime’s mind meld with Kirk to explain what happened in 2387 a little “clunky,” but necessary to explain plot.
  • Jimmy Bennett (Young Kirk) doesn’t look much like Chris Pine.
  • Kirk’s promotion is too fast if he were just a cadet; makes more sense that his grade was lieutenant and that he was referred to as a cadet because he had not yet graduated (or was suspended).
  • While the audience understands why Kirk needed to provoke Spock into an emotional outburst, the crew does not — a small scene where Kirk explains himself to the crew would make sense, to get the crew to trust him.
  • The odds of Kirk finding Spock on Delta Vega are astronomical BUT I agree with idea that the time line was trying to mend itself.
  • Transporter effect so-so; liked the other movie’s effects.
  • Enterprise and Kelvin engine rooms (redressed Budweiser factory) doesn’t work for me at all. I understand they did it to make the ship appear huge, and it looks far better than a CGI creation, but the set just clashes with the rest of the ship so much that it almost takes you out of the film.

To everyone who is upset about the changes to Trek Canon:

  • This is an ALTERNATE TIMELINE. While the film does not make it clear if previous “Original” time line survives; Bob Orci (co-writer) says it does.
  • As further proof of this, my Star Trek DVDs have not vanished so he must be right.
  • It’s a movie, dammit!
  • If all else fails, remember these very wise words from “Austin Powers:”

Austin Powers: “Wait a tick. Basil, if I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumably, I could go back and visit my frozen self. But, if I’m still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the ’90s and traveled back to… Oh, no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.”

Basil Exposition (looks at camera): “I suggest you don’t worry about those things and just enjoy yourself. [to camera] “That goes for you all, too.”

Austin (smiles at camera): “Yes.”

Other thoughts

  • Very grateful no reset button was pressed at the end — this is the new Trek, and anything can happen.
  • Dedicated to Gene and Majel — very appropriate.
  • Beautiful to have Nimoy’s “Space the final frontier.”
  • Beyond perfect; beyond brilliant.
  • The franchise is in good hands.
  • Mr. Abrams, Mr. Orci, Mr. Kurtzman, and Mr. Nimoy: THANK YOU.
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