You need not read the rest of this review. Just get the hell out of the chair, and go see it. There’s no spoilers here anyway, so you won’t learn anything.
Still there? Ok, maybe you got time to kill until the next showing. Fine, read on.
So I was sitting at the computer finishing up a post (which will now appear tomorrow), when I got a call from Dr. Heinous, just before 9:30. Now I’m not really surprised at calls from the doc, but a midweek call at that hour is odd. So I answered it, wondering what was up. And what was up, as in pumped up, was the good Doctor. I won’t bore you with quotes I don’t remember correctly, but the obvious news (you did read the title of this post, correct?) was that he’d just seen Star Trek, and he really, really liked it.
Duhwhut? I thought it was a midnight opening? Nope. And it wasn’t just a good Star Trek movie, it was a good movie period, yagottagoseeit. Well, hey that’s cool… uh, wait, my weekend schedule sucks. I have Other Things that I erroneously planned.
Hm. What time is it? Fandango time! 20 minutes to the next showing…haul ass, buddy! And like that, I’m out of the house.
And you know what? IT ROCKS!!
Look, I’m old enough and fan enough (without being a Trekkie) to remember when there was going to be a “second TOS” that would be the flagship series of the new Paramount TV network. And then it was canceled, and Shatner had a rant in their parking lot, saying that Trek was dead to him, he was done with it. Finis. The ink was barely dry on the articles before Paramount had signed the entire cast to the movie they’d decided to make instead.
And it was awful, with wooden acting and overblown lousy special effects (CG? what’s that? They used models). But hey, it made $40 million, a princely sum in those days. Nowadays you can’t make a movie like this for less than $80 million, but hey, back then it was enough to greenlight a second movie, and a third, and eventually seven more movies and four TV series.
So I know my Trek movies, and I went in with fairly moderate-to-low expectations. Frankly, I expected Abrams to take a crap all over the Trek franchise, producing something that had some of the same eye candy, and none of the heart.
Boy was I wrong. If you have the same worries and expectations, allow me to recalibrate the latter upwards somewhat. This wasn’t just a good Trek film. It was THE BEST Trek film yet. It was a good film, period. They nailed the entire Kirk/Spock/McCoy triumvirate. And where they showed us “new sides” of established characters, they actually helped to flesh out characters that had been under-served by the original series and movies. (Although it was a bit jarring to see Chekov be such a gravitational expert. Um, well I guess it’s a small spoiler.)
Yes, there were a couple of scenes were I had to laugh and say “Ok, you’re just tossing in crap now” because if there’s one thing J.J. Abrams didn’t believe in, it was a slow moment. The film took off like a shot out of the gate and it just never let up for all two hours and six minutes. But even when it was obvious, I had to just go with it, because, by jove, it was fun!
So yes, it’s a damn good movie, and as Dr. Heinous said, it’s back to the original series sensibilities; there’s no heavy handed moralizing here; the Federation is an original-series-style, two-fisted organization that’s perfectly willing to fire before talking.
Go see it.
Ok, one more spoiler. We learn Uhuru’s first name.
What? Tell you? No way.
Update: There have been a couple of “refrigerator moments” that hit me the morning after, and yes, there were one or two that were large enough to be noticed in the movie itself. Trek has become very bad about having highly variable distances and travel times throughout the series and movies, and this one’s no exception. There will be a moment that you’ll go “Wait, weren’t they they in warp before…” and moments later you’ll go “No way those planets were so close.” (If I’m wrong about the warp, we can say “ice moon” and get away with it.) Plus what were the chances they’d land that close together on the ice? And yes, “Red Matter” makes me want to retch quietly — is that the best term they can come up with to add to the the world-famous lexicon of Trek bolognium?
But the bottom line is these were nitpicks, and the movie still was highly entertaining and a more-than-worthy addition to the Trek fold.
Update 2: Ok, there was ONE issue that was an eye roller: show
And a bit of speculation: show