Reviewed by Grace Bridges
"Star Trek is a movie that delivers the fun and the action, and all the characters we love."
Okay. I admit it. I've been to see the movie four times - totally unprecedented for me. I've never ever been to any other movie more than once - and I've read dozens of interviews and random facts, so I figure it's time for me to write a proper review.
Like any proper Trekkie I'd been reading all sorts of preview reviews, sneak peeks and analyses prior to the movie's release. I wasn't sure what I'd be in for - apparently there was going to be a nasty backlash from old-time fans because this new Trek was - well, different. So with only the slightest reservation I booked my first viewing on release day, May 8th. I took my mother with me, she whose sci-fi leaning first brought me into Trekdom at a young age.
Well! My first impression was violent, loud, and very, very surprising. I discovered what everyone meant when they called it a reboot. Essentially that means it's not a prequel or sequel or any such animal. Yes, it's gone back to the beginning, but a future disaster's impact has changed one or two details of the past, leading to a very different growing-up for James T. Kirk than the past we know from all the Trek that's been before. "Very clever," said Mum as we left the cinema, "they'll be able to make another ten movies now." Talk then turned serious as we hoped we'd still be around to see all of them. That'd be the worst thing about dying. Missing Star Trek.
I for one felt like I'd just drunk a rather strong potion far too quickly. So we went again the next night, and dragged along five members of the extended family, mostly non-Trekkies. They liked it, and we went for a coffee and talked over the nuances. I tried to work on my novel that day and the next, and the one after that, but I couldn't. My brain was all jammed up with Trek and all the implications of the new reality we would have to accept. I did suffer some measure of grief at the realisation that none of the other forty years of Trek might ever play into this reinvented world.
However, my grief was ultra-short-lived as I pondered the amazing array of faithful Trek images I'd just seen remade for the new millenium. Two days on I went again, and this time I knew what to look out for. Here are a few things that come to mind.
Bridge sound effects, particularly the "Dynamic Beep". The appearance of Leonard Nimoy as a very aged Spock. Scotty's pet Tribble. Transporter and communicator sounds. Pike's new uniform in his last scene. "I'm a doctor, not a physicist." Great casting of lookalike actors who mastered the mannerisms of their predecessors, particularly McCoy and Spock. "I'm givin'er all she's got, Cap'n!" Admiral Archer's beagle. Romulans and Vulcans bleed green. "Fascinating." The legend of the redshirts. Sulu's swordfighting. Uhura's earpiece.
There were a lot of laughs too, especially but not only for those familiar with the original series. The action stoops to a comedy reel even in the midst of danger, as McCoy chases Kirk around the ship shooting needles in his neck, as a dripping wet Scotty tries to placate an angry Spock, and as Kirk figures out what's up with Spock and Uhura. Scotty and McCoy are very funny in all of their scenes. It was also funny in a twisted kind of way that Kirk lost nearly every fist-fight he got into, and frequently ended up hanging from high precipices by his fingertips after losing his gun over said precipice due to losing said fist-fight.
The music is pretty cool, especially at the end where they bring back the original theme song and then blend it with the new one. For my fourth viewing I was in the IMAX yesterday and was astonished to find myself the last in the theatre even though the most impressive section of the credits was still rolling.
So there were a few aspects that I didn't like so much. The car chase scene is juvenile, as is Pike's interrogation, and there are a bunch of holes in the plot which I've since heard are likely due to scenes which ended up being left out. I sure hope there'll be a director's cut to include some of these lost parts. Also, I have to remember that they filmed this during the writers' strike and were unable to alter anything in the shoot phase. With that in consideration, they did pretty well with what they had.
But regardless of these shortcomings, Star Trek is a movie that delivers the fun and the action and all the characters we love. While it was a little short on inspiration, it's understandable that there was a lot of action to cover in bridging the gap between old and new. With that accomplished, the end is truly the beginning, and the way is open for more mind-blowing adventures and hopefully a bit more soul-food the next time around.
People kept asking me why I went back four times. Didn't I know already
what was going to happen? Well, sure. Even had lots of it stored in photographic
memory. But it was the crew of the Enterprise who drew me to return. I've
felt these new actors slot comfortably into their positions as the legendary
spacefaring team, even as their journey to get to that place is now full
of new challenges - faced by each person in their own typical manner. The
new reality throws different struggles in the paths of Kirk and Spock in
particular, causing the Kirk we once knew to appear a little less arrogant,
and Spock more in touch with his emotions. And aren't those exactly the
kind of developments we've always wanted to see?
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for non-gory death and destruction, and one scene where a girl makes a garbled joke about perverted sex and is then groped - totally unnecessary, but it's over real quick as one of the famous fist-fights ensues. Later in one short scene there is a lot of underwear on view, but nothing more, and it's important to pay attention to the dialogue.
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Grace Bridges is a sci-fi author (Faith Awakened, 2007, and Legendary Space Pilgrims, 2010) and owner of Splashdown Books, an independent publisher of inspirational sci-fi and fantasy. She's a Kiwi of Irish descent living in beautiful New Zealand, and a chocaholic cat-lovin' Trekkie, Jesus freak, web designer, and all-round DIY gal who also takes care of the Lost Genre Guild blog. Tweets: @gracebridges - or visit www.gracebridges.com for more.