link to Lee's review
link to mortmere's review
link to my updated with spoilers 5-23 review
[No Plot Spoilers; Yes Expressions of Disappointment. Friday morning: now with new, expanded expressions of disappointment!]
11 p.m. Just got home from the new Star Trek movie.
I enjoyed sharing the Star Trek PEZ dispensers (above) bink gave me for Christmas with my friends, but I didn't care for the movie. Didn't hate it. I won't lie awake tonight with my stomach in knots. [Next morning: Actually, turns out I did. I stewed.] But neither did I ever experience the flutter of butterflies. I'm just going to forget it ever happened.
The best things--and they were very good--were the character actors. Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy proved that you don't have to look like the original actor to play the character convincingly and give pleasure doing it. I couldn't have been happier with Chekov (Anton Yelchin) if he was Laika the space dog herself, rescued from her death on Sputnik 2 and enrolled in Starfleet. John Cho played Sulu with proper panache. And right as I was drifting toward zombiedom in this overly long trek (more like a slog), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, you know) appeared as Scotty and energized the last third of the movie.
A lot was just so-so. Eric Bana was beautiful as the Maori-like bad guy, but he had little to do but be beautiful, like Khan reduced to a fashion model. Zoe Saldana as Uhura was also fashion model-like. I can't imagine her having the spice to call the captain Sugar. And the main change they made with her character --well, it wasn't a direction I'd choose. Alas, she's the only speaking female on the Enterprise this time round. Just one of the things that made me think this movie was aimed at young guys. (Imagine that. A genius deduction, eh?)
I liked Chris Pine better than I expected, though that's faint praise. He didn't offend me, but with his blue eyes and lean keenness, he never became my Captain Kirk. Because he was so different than Shatner, however, I could accept him as a likable enough action hero who happened to be named Kirk. Though at the end, ...well, I don't want to give anything away, but you know how I feel about Kirk's body language, and there was one pleasing little tribute.
The big change was Spock. Unlike Pine, Quinto played his role so I could see some Spock in him, and I'm sorry for that. It was Spock without an internal tension, a loneliness that made him precious and unique to me. And he behaved in the most human, un-Spock-like ways. He didn't even bleed green. Humanizing Spock, as far as I'm concerned, is a violation of the prime directive. Some people will like it, no doubt, but I walked away thinking, I have no particular reason to love this Spock. That's a loss.
I was surprised at the laxity of the storytelling. People are introduced you never see again. Relationships exist to no point. Plot lines start to ignite only to sputter out. And right in the middle of the movie comes a clunky segment explaining a central plot twist. Don't you get your knuckles hit with a ruler in Screenwriting 101 for having a character explain what's happening? You should.
Further, beyond introducing the characters to each other, which actually got short shrift, this Star Trek didn't have an overarching idea to it. I like a dash of philosophy, a splash of moral quandry, with my Trek. There was nothing in this story that exercised my brain. Or my heart. Or my soul.
The movie drags surprisingly too. Even the music was less than exciting. Despite a lot of explosions and fist fights--and how many times can Kirk hang off the edge of something?--it reminded me a little of Star Trek: The Motion Picture as it was first released, which never quite knew what it wanted to be when it got wherever it was going, wherever that was, but took a long time getting there.
The home-video release re-edited and tightened ST:TMP up so much, though, it's well worth watching now. This one could use a good trim too, though I don't think there'd be much left at the center.
David Mamet calls Galaxy Quest, the loving parody of Star Trek, a "perfect movie" because every single thing serves the story line and the characters, which is not the case here. I kept thinking about that as I watched this Star Trek movie. That's pathetic proof in itself: QED, you should not be able to think about David Mamet while watching an action film.
Well, Trekkie lore has long had it that the odd-numbered Star Trek movies are drek. This Star Trek is officially unnumbered, but we all know it's No. 11.
Maybe No. 12 will be better.