I remember when I first heard rumours that this movie was going to be about young Kirk and young Spock. The idea was as horrifying to me as one of those space insects that bad guys put into someone’s ear to get information from them (there’s one in this movie). Star Trek characters going through teen angst and melodramatic love triangles was not going to be good. I’m no fan of the original Star Trek, but I’m a huge fan-boy of every Trek series that came after (not the animated series — see how geek I am? I know about the animated series!). I also didn’t think that Star Trek needed a reboot, but I’d seen the wonders that had been done for Battlestar Galactica, James Bond, and Batman. With J.J. Abrams (co-creator of Alias, Lost, and Fringe) at the helm I felt a lot more confident about this movie (I’m also an Abrams fan-boy). I’m reporting now that I’m far from disappointed.
The story is definitely nothing new (especially not in the Trek universe). There’s time travel, there’s an interplanetary megalomaniac bent on revenge, there’s an upstart young rookie quick to climb up the chain of command, and there’s lots of spaceships and lasers (though check out the cool new sound effect for the phasers). Even with so many clichés (which we’ll just call “classic elements”), I found this movie to be quite refreshing. One of the best things about this franchise reboot is that it’s not a dark, introspective, flawed take on the original. The last thing we want to see is a starship captain wracked with guilt over a bad decision, or tormented by some childhood trauma. Captain James T. Kirk had always seemed little more than a space cowboy/fratboy. (I admit I always hated that about him.)
Chris Pine does an awesome job of making that character reckless yet likable. I prefer him a lot more than the classically hammy William Shatner version. Yes, he was too smug, and seemed to get the kind of opportunity that no one gets in real life. Yes, despite his risk-taking, things work out amazingly well for him in the end (example: Kirk is marooned on an ice planet and left to his own devices. But, minutes after running from some gigantic monsters and taking shelter in a nearby cave, he comes upon the one person in the universe with useful information to help his situation). Nevertheless, the rebooted Kirk does suffer quite a few beat downs in the movie, one of which even ends with the classic Vulcan nerve pinch (Go Spock!). So I guess his life isn’t totally charmed. (Plus he didn’t even get the girl in the end. Go Spock again!)
As for the look of the film, you can see its big budget (kudos to Abrams for getting a big budget on a series that seemed on its last legs). The ship and everything around it looked quite amazing (and as an Apple fan boy I loved the new styling of the bridge — touch screens for everyone!). The space scenes look pretty epic, and there were some pretty monstrous monsters on that ice planet.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for things to dislike there are some of those as well. While the dialogue is often zippy and fun there are times when it gets a little bit too cheeky (though Simon Pegg is his usually hilarious self as engineer Scott, the jokester). Of course there’s that horrible Russian accent used by Anton Yelchin as Chekhov. (It was not as bad as Walter Koenig’s original accent but frankly, they should’ve just gone without an accent. It’s never been very logical to me that even people from other planets speak better English than Russians in Starfleet. Plus, Japanese officer Sulu never had an accent.)
All in all I had a great time watching this movie. I am so glad to see new Trek on the screen. I don’t know how I feel about this being the new direction for future Trek movies. I think I would have rather had another TV series, but for now I’ll take whatever I can get. 4.5 out of 5