It was on a sunny April morning of 2006 when I woke up and switched on the TV, I changed to the ITV channel and turned on the Teletext page, moving to page 130 which was the Entertainment news page I was suddenly stunned to read the top headline. “JJ Abrams to Direct Star Trek XI” “Prequel Star Trek Academy Movie with Kirk and Spock!”. I was surprised and delighted. A new Star Trek movie. I was so excited I couldn’t eat for most of the day. At this time JJ Abrams had not yet decided to Direct though, however he seemed like the business wise and popular choice as Director although I personally hoped Bryan Singer might take a shot at Directing a Star Trek Movie. I was quite excited at the thought of the Academy idea after reading a review of the unused Star Trek IV Script by Merrick of AICN. It expelled my fears of a 90210 Star Trek. Even William Shatner’s Book on Kirk and Spock at the Academy was a fun story.
It’s been a long 3 years since then. Longer than I thought it would be.During that time there was reports of Adrian Brody as Spock, Matt Damon as Kirk,Tom Cruise or Daniel Craig as Pike (Both Star Trek Fans) and Russel Crowe as Nero. Aint it cool news broke the news early that Vulcan would be destroyed as as way of reimagining Star Trek with a new timeline and keeping the old one in another reality. I didn’t like the idea. I think they could still do a prequel movie without rebooting Star Trek, most people wouldn’t know anything about Star Trek’s history so why is that used as an excuse for holding the franchise back? good stories can still be told. What Star Trek needed was the right Director, production team and proper funding by Paramount to make a decent movie. But with the fad of Reboots these days it’s a given with most things nowadays. But I do “get it”. As much as I might dislike the reboot idea it’s a good one to preserve what came before and create somethign new. However I still don’t buy the alternate timeline reasoning since every past Star Trek TimeTravel incursion has dealt with one timeline and that one timeline being changed and corrected. But it’s interesting that this time the Bad guys are the ones from the future opposed to it usually being the heroes.
So, May 29th was the release date for the Movie in Japan. I bought my advanced ticket 3 days before. On Friday at 3:50pm I watched the movie.
I loved the opening sequence, the shot of the Kelvin coming into view, a beautiful ship, a beautifully designed bridge, a very prequel, gritty, realistic feeling to her. The attack was very exciting and tense as was Captain Robau’s moments on the Narada. The scenes of James Kirk been born at the moment his Father was flying the U.S.S. Kelvin into the Narada was powerful and touching. I would have liked the rest of the movie to be more like this.
I don’t know where to begin with this film. Maybe it’s the trend of film these days that things are faster and less complex, less depth and more action and movement in the story. I’m not terribly impressed. The film is a bit all over the place, not only with the many coincidences of how these people came together (and it’s a big stretch) but also the way the story moves along with no real narrative but just supposition, for example, Spock convinces the crew that because the Red Matter is beyond there comprehension it must be something from the future because “if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains must be the truth”. So it’s not possible that it was designed by an advanced alien race? The conclusion that ’something they don’t understand equals time travel’ is a bit of fluff talk that advances the plot but makes no real sense at all. Same goes for the maguffin, this Red Matter, it makes a black hole that destroys everything but also sends you back in time. I feel we’re falling into a dumbed down era of storytelling in movies, with examples such as Indiana Jones and Bayformers where action takes credence over anything that used to be sensical in movies. I feared this when I saw MI:III. JJ Abrams is a movie director learnered on how to give the biggest bang for the buck and sell a movie to the audience at the sacrifice of something a bit more thought provoking. But yet I can’t say he was a bad choice to Direct. He does his Job very well.
Some cringe worthy moments. The Nokia product placement and ringtone. Jesus, 200 years later in the future and they still use that lame ringtone. I don’t even hear that in the 21st Century anymore, why the hell would they have it in the 23rd.
Kirk and Spock blow away Nero for fun even though his ship is already crushed by the red matter black hole. To quote an episode of Voyager “It’s the Starfleet way”.
Chris Pike hands over the keys to James Kirk. Are you kidding me? When I saw that Pike had survived at the end I had hoped that for the moment he would stay in command. He had only taken command of the Enterprise recently. Why would he give her up? Even Admirals have starships to command or did they pawn off Pike with a desk job? I felt it was an uncomfortable message that because he was in a wheel chair that he should let someone else command. I don’t think that was an intentional message but I felt it sent the wrong idea.
Ok I get this is most importantly about the characters, how they came together but a lot of things seem to have been sacrificed in terms of sensical storytelling. The Enterprise being built close to Kirk’s home, bumping into Scotty and Spock on Delta Vega.
The Ship. While I’m still not fond of the new Enterprise design, she does look great on the big screen. the engineering section was supposedly filmed at a budwiser factory. Which contrary to what the filmmakers say does NOT look grounded in reality as in contrast to the bridge you don’t actually believe this set is on a Starship. There’s no main engineering Warp core which I really miss and I don’t get this new type of engineering at all. The bridge is a bit too flashy for my tastes although it does have a retro feel that reminds me of the original series. The Kelvin pretty much beats the Enterprise hands down in every aspect of design. It’s a bit disappointing that the Enterprise had no real battle against the Narada and we don’t get to see Kirk’s tactical skills in the art of Starship combat yet. Scotty too was a bit of a let down, I don’t know if it’s the accent or something more but of the whole cast I felt this was the furthest away from the original character.
Eric Bana was totally underused as a villain. If anyone has seen him in the movie “Chopper” you’ll know what this guy is capable of. Perhaps the strongest casting in this movie and they didn’t have him be something more than just a bad guy.
Chris Pine does a fantastic Kirk while not making it an impersonation, except in the scene of the Kobayashi Maru test which was damn funny. Zachary Quinto is a better Spock than I even imagined. Karl Urban just nails Bones perfectly, what a great piece of acting. Leonard Nimoys ’s Spock seemed a little off, but his character didn’t really have a big part in the movie to bring the character to the forefront. I’m party excited at the thought of where they might go next. In this alternate Timeline maybe old Kirk doesn’t die, so there’s a chance to have Shatner in a future sequel and I hope so. Maybe they might run into Picard and his crew from the future. Khan is still out there in his sleeper ship. It would be exciting to have a prequel movie to one of the most popular star trek movies. They can pretty much do anything now so they might as well take full advantage of it. The effects? Nothing short of beautiful. It’s wonderful to see the how the camera moves about the Starships or shows the perspective of the Kelvin compared to the monstrosity of the Narada. Speaking of the Narada, a mining ship, I’m glad I flicked through the prequel comic book “Countdown” to this which gives a lot more back story on Nero and the ship. That’s something this villain needed more of as Eric Bana is certainly playing him with a weight that the audience can’t fully comprehend. Winona Ryder emulates Spocks Mother, Amanda Grayson so completely it’s just a delight to see her on screen. Although her scenes were cut along with Nero’s. I was totally shocked when she was killed.
As a reinvigoration of the franchise I’m not totally blown away either. It uses the Batman Begins, Casino Royale formula of going back to the beginning, but less effectively. How I rate this film. I like it but I’m not hooked on it. Compared to other first viewings of Star Trek movies I remember really liking First Contact and Generations. I also remember being clearly able to see the action in those movies. Star Trek’s action in this film was bordering on Speed Racer from last year, your eyes barely have time to focus before the camera swings around and jumps on something else. This is the kind of movie I’d recommend to people younger than me but not older than me.
Favorite Quote: “Spock, do yourself a favor, put aside logic, do what feels right.“- Spock