'Star Trek' boldy strays where no Trek has strayed before

Normally I don’t post my movie reviews here, but a couple people requested me to, so, here I am.


“Star Trek.” Throw the tag on to a show or movie, and you instantly have an audience that will watch it. I’ve been a Star Trek fan throughout my life — watched every series and movie that I could stomach (though I kinda bailed on “Voyager” and never got a chance to consistently watch “Enterprise”). The shows are legendary, and chances are, even if you’ve never watched an episode in your life, you know what a phaser and the Borg are, or you’ve heard of Captain Kirk, Spock and the Vulcan nerve pinch.

But when it comes to the movies, well, they are hit or miss. “Wrath of Khan” is a classic, but I can’t think of any others that I’ve seen multiple times. In fact, I think after the last one, I swore off going to see any more “Star Trek” movies until someone came along to shake things up. And then J.J. Abrams decided to take the helm.

This latest “Star Trek” is a “prequel,” focusing in on the early days of the original Enterprise crew. I almost had a feeling of “Muppet Babies” when I heard about it, and immediately brushed it off, thinking that it would suck where no movie has sucked before.

But then I saw the previews.

It was settled.

I was going.

Normally I try and describe the beginning of the movie to give the reader a feel for what they are getting into, but this is just one of those movies that most people don’t want to know ANYTHING about. So, I’ll just skip to the good and bad with one minor spoiler: Alternate Universe.

See, apparently when the bad guy comes on the scene, he does some fidgeting with time/space, so therefore, all the history and lore from the original series is GONE, enabling J.J. Abrams to have free reign to piss off the Trekkies of the world in any number of different ways. So, if you’re rolling in expecting the “traditional” Trek universe, stop right now and wait for the DVD.

So, here’s the good:

1) The cast: They do a great job of catching the essence of the characters. Christopher Pine does a fantastic Captain Kirk. If he didn’t pull it off, the movie would have no credibility whatsoever. But he does. Nailed it. The rest of the cast, too. Great job.

2) They start flushing out the history of some of the other characters. No longer are Sulu and Chekov pretty much confined to their chairs, flipping switches.

3) The effects are just staggering.

4) The movie is fast paced, so you really don’t get any scenes where you want to nap. In fact, some of the slower scenes are needed just to take a breather. Don’t expect any cat-and-mouse in nebulas — this is roller coaster stuff.

5) The alternate universe angle gives the writers the ability to take the story in any number of ways that other writers wouldn’t/didn’t.

And the bad:

1) The bad guy and his story are pretty sucktacular. I mean, c’mon. You guys couldn’t do any better than that? And really, OSHA would have had a field day on that ship.

2) The love story. I won’t mention who its between, but it makes no sense whatsoever. They allude to it when the characters are introduced, but by the end, it’s full blown out there and remarkably stupid and unnecessary.

3) The engineering. OK, this is a Trekkie moment here, but can anyone tell me why they need giant water turbines and structures with nuke symbols on the Enterprise? Or why the photon torpedo tubes are like a giant 6-shot revolver? Star Trek’s technology is way beyond all of that. It’s just freakin’ goofy.

4) The physics of a black hole. OK, nerd speak again, but seriously, learn them.

5) The alternate universe thing: Because it feels like a cop out when they take established characters and stories and just disregard the lore/histories behind them.

6) The effects, while staggering, are also way overdone.

While I’ve heard many people going on and on about how fantastic this latest Trek is, I dunno. For me, it was a great popcorn flick, and will probably end up in my movie collection for that reason alone. But for a “serious” effort to push into the world of Trek, it fails and fails hard. Abrams can’t be expected to be taken seriously by the nerd nation when he puts almost no effort into staying true to a show with THAT much history behind it. Right now, it’s as though he hijacked the characters and dropped them into an entirely different series.

So, for you hardcore Star Trek fans, think of this one as a bag of Doritos — they’re tasty and you’ll eat them, but ultimately, they’re unfulfilling.

3.5 out of 5 Starfleet symbols


10 Responses to “'Star Trek' boldy strays where no Trek has strayed before”

  1. May 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Now that I’ve read this, I’ll be less pissed off when I see the film. Thank you for the public service.

  2. 2 funkyskull
    May 8, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I am not a Star Trek fan by any means. I watched the Next Generation series sometimes, but mostly because of my years-lingering crush on Wil Wheaton. Other than that, I can really do without it.

    But when I saw the trailer for this…oh my. In fact, the email I sent to my friends with a link to the trailer back in November said “Science fiction! J.J. Abrams! John Cho! Anton Yelchin! SIMON FRICKIN’ PEGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I can’t waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait!!!!!!!!!!1!!!one!!!”

    I am totally sold, and reading your review confirms that I will enjoy the CRAP out of this movie, because I don’t really care about the physics or engineering stuff (and really, I can still not understand why hard-core Star Trek fans can not just LET.IT.GO. already when it comes to “accuracy.”). I can suspend disbelief if the story is right. I like cool characters, interesting stories, and watching things go boom. I’m in!

  3. 3 Ian
    May 8, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    The “alternate” Universe was actually used in teh original series. It was in Season 2 in the episode “Mirror, Mirror”. (the evile universe)


  4. 4 Three
    May 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Yes, Ian, that’s true. I remember it well. Spock with a goatee, the federation crushing all opposition. They even used that on Deep Space 9 and Next Generation. But the difference is that the visits/visitors to the each universe didn’t change the entire history of the characters or the show.

    And Funky, here’s a way to put it in perspective: Star Trek and the technology are kinda interwoven…you can’t just throw coal-fired engines into the Enterprise when every 10th episode of the show deals with the something in engineering going hideously wrong. Trekkies know that the dilithium crystals are the power source of the ship — you can’t throw in water turbines and nuke reactors and expect it to go over well. That’s going beyond “alternate universe” — that’s flat out pissing on the show.

    And I can’t believe you had a crush on Wesley Crusher. EWWWWWW. Worst. Character. Ever.

  5. 5 funkyskull
    May 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I did not have a crush on Wesley Crusher. I had a crush on Gordie LaChance.

  6. May 10, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Oh, thank god someone is talkin’ some sense. I’m pissed.

    As a stand alone movie, it was excellent, no doubt. I had no idea I was sitting there for over two hours. Not once did I notice I had to pee (this is one of PurpleCar’s Movie Criteria – the more you are preoccupied with peeing, the worse the movie is).

    BUT I’M PISSED. What an effin’ cop out. Alternate universe my terran ass!

    rrrrg. I agree with everything you said, man. Especially the love story. BLECK.

  7. May 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    The new Star Trek keeps up the pace and thus keeps the audience’s attention so much better than the other Star Treks… there is something fundamentally wrong with a movie that feels like a chore to watch (like most of the other Star Treks)

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