So yeah, on Friday night, solarbird and spazzkat and I went to go have tasty sushi and see the new Trek movie. The sushi was undisputably tasty, as was the plum wine I had with it. We had a bit of a difference of opinion as to the tastiness of the movie, though!
Picoreview on my part: Big Stupid Fun. There are bits of science in it that make you go “wait, WHAT?” even by Trek standards. But here’s the thing: at least while I was watching the movie, I didn’t care. All the characters were Right and that’s pretty much what counted as far as I am concerned. Bonus points for Dara and I having fun geeking about the ramifications of events in the movie, and Dara telling me that say what you will about this new film, it’s gotten her Trekgeeking for the first time in twenty years.
Spoilers behind the cut!
Let me get this out of the way first: okay yeah fine, the big time travel mechanism in this plot is Dumb. You can travel through time by going through a black hole? Who knew? Also, WTF is “red matter”?
But I’ll put that aside because really, I had very little other quibble with this movie. I was particularly impressed that Abrams pulled off a Trek time travel plot, even one with a stupid science concept behind it, without doing a reset of the events. I really like the explanation of “this is an alternate universe/timeline” for why these are younger people who may have the same names and same basic, core qualities to their characters, but entirely different lives.
I was also really impressed that he had the guts to destroy Vulcan. We all knew some planet was getting destroyed from the trailers, but whoa hey Vulcan? Also, it must be noted that he took out Romulus with a supernova, back in Trek Universe A; one wonders how many more planets he’ll be destroying now that he’s taken over the Trek franchise. Muahaha.
That said? Killing off Amanda: *sniff!* I turned to Dara once we got home and said “I guess Journey to Babel won’t be happening in this timeline!”
I rather liked that the villain was Just This Romulan Guy who happened to go severely batshit crazy when his homeworld was destroyed, and decided he was coming after Spock with his big-ass scary-looking mining ship of Doom. And although I didn’t realize this until after I saw the review post put up by Nick Mamatas, it was rather neat that Nero went around calling Pike “Christopher” and being all weirdly casual when hailing the Enterpise. Dude’s a civilian. He has no reason to respect the niceties of military rank and every reason to despise them. So yeah, no quibbles there.
But really, the heart of this entire experience for me was seeing how well the young cast handled the familiar characters. And for the most part, for me, the answer to this question is “swimmingly”. In ascending order of Coolness:
Sulu: John Cho didn’t register much for me, but I did like sneaking in his fencing experience and letting him get all wuxia on that Romulan on the drilling platform.
Chekov: BABY CHEKHOV! I loved him! <3 I adored how he squealed "I CAN DO THIS!" and went pelting down to the transporter room. McCoy: Karl Urban did a fabulous job for what little screen time he actually got. I lol’d at his joining Starfleet because of his ex-wife essentially kicking him off the planet, and I particularly lol’d at the sequence wherein he was chasing Kirk around with the Hypo of Doom. He did very well with the accent.
Uhura: I liked the whole setup with Kirk flirting with her in the bar leading into the bit of mystery about her name. Very nice callback to how “Nyota” had never been established on-screen. And while it would have been nice to have her more actively involved in the plot than just smoochin’ on Spock, she is a communications officer and there wasn’t much for a communications officer to do here. One hopes we’ll see her more actively involved in future films.
And while we’re on the topic, WHOA HEY UHURA SMOOCHIN’ ON SPOCK! I have this theory that Abrams or somebody on his writing staff saw that very, very early episode, before they really got their groove going, in which Uhura is actually hitting on Spock on the bridge… and that there was a bit of a stroky-beard HMM moment, and some thought of “we can work with this”. ;)
And speaking of whom….
Spock: Zachary Quinto pretty much nailed Spock. He’s a younger, rougher Spock than Nimoy’s, of course, and one who clearly has acknowledged enough emotion to actually have a relationship with Uhura… but in the fundamentals, yeah, he’s totally Spock. Especially when Kirk provokes him into flipping out; there’s a nice echo there again to the old series, wherein Kirk had to do that. Spock is scary when he flips out in the show, and he was pretty scary here, too.
And, he’s got down the Spock snark as well. When he finally shows up at the end and requests to be Kirk’s first officer, I lol’d quite a bit at his offer to provide character references.
It was actually a little jarring to have both Original!Spock and New!Spock in this story–except when both Spocks were on screen. Then, when New!Spock calls Original!Spock on the fact that he actually bullshat Kirk about the consequences of their ever meeting, that whole scene started to work.
ETA (OH GOD how could I leave him out?!) Scotty: Simon Pegg ROCKED. I loved what little we had of him on camera, and he totally stole the show. “I like this ship! It’s EXCITIN’!” Hee! I can’t wait to see Chris Pine barking out “I NEED MORE POWER SCOTTY!” and him wailing back “Th’ engines can’t take much more o’ this!” <3 Last, but definitely not least: Kirk: This of course was the big question for me, Kirk fangirl that I am: could Chris Pine fill Kirk’s boots? And take them off and put them on again? ;>
He didn’t start feeling like Kirk to me until the bar scene when he was hitting on Uhura–and then, because of asking her name and threatening to make one up if she didn’t fess up. A raw and unfinished version of the Kirk Smarm, but yeah, it was clearly already getting into place by then. And! I loved watching him pivot and ogle any beautiful girl that went past him, and the fact that he was getting all hot and heavy with Uhura’s Orion roommate.
I cheered that they had the Kobayashi Maru test on camera. That is of course a fundamental part of Kirk’s character and one of the things that had to be there. A bit of a snicker that Spock had actually programmed the test himself and took Kirk’s cheating personally, too.
As I said above, I loved the whole sequence with McCoy sneaking Kirk onto the Enterprise; I lol’d every time Kirk went “WOULD YOU QUIT IT?”
Seeing him start to get serious, though, really started convincing me this boy was actually James T. Kirk. He had the correct intensity, the correct daring, the correct thinking out of the box. And it didn’t hurt that he’s quite gorgeous, too. ;)
So yeah, all in all two thumbs up and I’ll be going back for seconds some time soon. Dara and I both want to give the movie another crack, now that we know specifically that this is an alternate timeline that doesn’t get reset. I want to give the musical score another listen as well and see if I feel like buying the soundtrack.