You may recognize this inconspicuous fellow:
Yes, that friends, is me. And might I say, at the end of Star Trek, I did not need to punch JJ Abrams in the coccyx. Also, herein likely lie spoilers, so if you’re spoilerphobic, get off this blog. I mean, don’t read this post.
Star Trek (2009) is a marvelous film. It’s true to the characters, as JJ said it would be. It also appropriately resets the universe, without saying “hey, none of that stuff ever happened.” It’s a reboot, without a true reset.
There was plenty here for fans of the series and films to like. References to canon history, very strong character portrayals – without seeming like the actors were trying to “live up” to any previous actor’s performance. Everthing felt very authentic, and very Trek. And I loved the “slash of light” over Pike’s face when he sits in the Cap’s chair. Awesome.
I also like the styling going on here. It feels both retro and futuristic at the same time – there’s plenty of cool to the tech, but the styling brings back all those reminders of the original series – the miniskirts, the bright, solid color tops, the mock-turtles underneath.
I have read several reviewers (in the typical troll forums, of course) complaining that it’s too much flash and not enough substance. A common theme among these reviews is that the spirit of the original series was to mirror modern political struggles, and tell stories that were set inside the context of those struggles, without “overtly” pushing the social hot-buttons. So, the Klingons (and Romulans) were like the Russians, and the Federation was, of course, the United States. The powers were locked in a cold war in the Original Series; the Federation had become a true lone superpower in The Next Generation.
There’s a few points I’d make here. First, the varying Star Trek series were progressively becoming worse at drawing parallels to current issues. Often, an entire culture had to be contrived just to create a situation where “same sex marraige” could be discussed. I’m a generally liberal bastard, and even I started getting annoyed with the hoity-toity “your culture doesn’t have that yet? We Earthlings (and assorted Brown M&M’s) have had that goin’ on fo years, bitch! Prime Directive’d!” C’mon, really? Needless to say, the fact that this is toned down really doesn’t bug me.
That said – I don’t think it’s completely missing. In fact, I think it’s more true to the original idea – give us the broad strokes, and put the characters in the middle of it. For example, have a terrorist character, oh, say, destroy a key planet to parallel an event that still lives in our culture’s recent memory. Hey, now the Star Trek political landscape is set up to mirror the one we live in. Imagine that! I’m not a “everything in the world is because of 9/11” guy, but that is one of the original concepts of the series – parallel current events and politics – and it was done exactly right.
(By the way, if you’re hungering for a great “social issues” episode, I’d go with Deep Space 9’s episode, “Far Beyond the Stars.” Probably the best episode of the series.)
This sets up a new Star Trek universe where Starfleets issues of the day again have a familiar feel that rings true to viewers. It makes the Vulcans into our New Yorkers – the folks who were there, who lived it, and who collectively live with the survivor’s remorse. I think this is going to create a very interresting new take on the Vulcan culture, and the Star Trek universe, while still offering plenty of opportunity for action. Remember – the politics and issues were overtones in TOS. The original concept was a space western: chase scenes, phaser guns, and tense, high-noon standoffs.
There were plenty of moments to love in this new film. The Kobiyashi Maru, the origin of the “Bones” nickname (no, he isn’t a fan of old Fox TV), Spock telling the Vulcan Science Acadamy to **** off. If you’ve had doubts about seeing this film, for whatever reason, you should drop them and go see it. At a minimum, you’ll be entertained, and at best, you’ll fall in love with Star Trek again.
Live long and prosper.