I'm going to write up a
Let's tackle the two big questions right out of the gate. Was the movie any good and was the movie true to the Trek universe that's built up over the last forty years?
The answer to the first question from myself and my daughter is an empathetic "hell yeah, this movie rocks!" This is everything a summer movie should be (action, humor) and more. That "more" is actually character development and personal stakes for each of the principles, which is a rarity is big studio pictures these days.
It was almost shocking to see these real dramatic stakes in a film like this, where Paramount studios has so much riding on the revival of this golden franchise. The safer road would have been to ignore the characters and hope you can fake out the audience by drowning the film in action. To his credit that's not the road JJ Abrams takes here. I've read chatter on movie boards that compare this movie to last summer's "Iron Man" to that extent. It does sort of have that Iron Man vibe where it's a lot "meatier" of a film than you expect.
As to whether the movie is true to the Trek universe, well, you're just going to have to decide for yourself. This is not the Battlestar Galactica-style re-imagining/ reboot of Star Trek that people have been talking about. It's difficult to describe what this is, but it's more along the lines of some sort of surreal dream featuring characters those of us who loved the original Trek are probably a little more than a little familiar with than we should be.
A friend who I love recently shared his dread that this movie would be bad to the feeling he got from "Phantom Menace." After seeing this film I'd say this was a light years better film but I do think there is something that can be gleaned from comparing the two franchises. One of the worst sins of many that Lucas committed with the prequel triology in my estimation was that he took a universe that was as expansive as your imagination, full of limitless possibility and shrunk it down to only a few planets and a few characters who implausibly crossed paths again and again. Lucas made his fictional universe smaller.
The thing I love about this movie is it takes the Star Trek universe, a universe which had become calcified over the last couple of decades, and expands it once again. The stories that can take place after this film are as limitless as the imagination. I love Trek, but Trek canon is choking the universe to death. JJ Abrams and his writers have revived Gene Roddenberry's Trek so that it can breathe again.
And make no mistake about it - Gene Roddenberry's spirit is intertwined through this movie. His optimism, his characters, his humanism and his vision of a future where we can solve problems through sheer force of will are all here. The body may look different but the heart is the same.
Foremost among these are the relationship between Chris Pine's Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock. Getting this relationship right was probably the most difficult challenge Abrams and company faced. Besides the original show there have been thousands of books, short stories and even slash fiction written about this friendship.
I'm happy to say that they don't only get this relationship right but every other character from the classic series. I expected to like Simon Pegg's Scotty going into the film but was surprised at how much I also enjoyed Anton Yelchin's Chekov and Karl Urban's McCoy (the latter seemed to be channelling DeForest Kelley.) Leanord Nimoy is wonderful, of course.
My biggest criticism of the movie: I hate the new interiors of the new Enterprise. The bridge is ridiculous, especially the touch screen wall computers behind the Captain's chair. It's not a good thing that the bridge reminds me of "Galaxy Quest," even though that movie in itself is wonderful.
Most of all I despise the new engine room with all it's pipes, cooling tanks and gauges. Tell me if you don't feel like they shot these scenes in a brewery. There's a horrible low-budget film called "Space Mutiny" which Mystery Science Theater tore apart a few years back that utilized an abandoned factory doubling as the engine room of a big ship in space. I couldn't get that movie out of my head every time they showed the engine room.
One other minor problem I had with the film was the score. It was probably better than average for an action movie but one thing it didn't do was utilize all of that wonderful music written for the original series by Alexander Courage and other composers. How cool would it have been if that fight music from the show worked it's way into a fist fight, or the weird Vulcan tune played when they showed that planet? The theme music from the series isn't the only memorable tune.
But in the end these are minor quibbles because Abrams gets the characters so right. I can forgive a goofy looking engine room set if it's got a believable Scotty standing in it yelling "I'm giv'n it all she's got, captain!" I can't wait to see this movie again and hope that sequels will be coming. Star Trek is back. It's been away too long.