Like many other geeks I saw the new Star Trek film over the weekend and wanted to write a quick review of it. The non-spoiler review is simple “Fantastic, it worked well on almost every level”. A more spoiler filled version follows the break…
Really they’ll be spoilers…
I mean it… you have been warned..
Alternate Universes - Solving The Trekker Dilemma
When I first heard that JJ Abrams was directing a TOS era Star Trek film I was concerned that there he was caught between a rock and a hard place with the core fans.
If he decided to do a BSG style revolutionary reboot too many core fans would be upset. If there was initial uproar to Starbuck being a chick on BSG the reaction to radical Trek changes would be overwhelming, even stunt casting wouldn’t save it. Unlike a TV series where once could
On the other hand, if he decided to stay in continuity he would be forced into something like the New Voyages Fan Films that would look dated. Now I love the STNV films as fan pieces but I’d never want to see the TOS Bridge on the big screen, it’s a symbol of a more simple time. The same core fans would be nitpicking the combination to Kirk’s safe, and the shad of red that the third button in the fifth row of Sulu’s station. Somehow the story would be lost in these silly debates.
Being that alternate universes are established in Trek Lore (obvious examples include the mirror universe and the alternate universe created when Edith Keeler didn’t die). I think it’s fair to say 1 in 10 Trek Books contain a time travel / alternate universe theme so this is certainly possible. Refreshingly, the plot of this movie was not to restore the original timeline (a plot point in many Time Travel / AU Stories). Having TOS Spock involved in creating TOS:AU gave the necessary nod to the past without having to be a slave to it. A rather elegant solution.
Of course there’s a counterpoint to this take a look at Louis Trapani’s Is New Trek, New Coke? for his reaction.
For the most part, I think that the casting was perfect. I feel that Pine, Quinto, Pegg, Cho, Yelchin and Saldana all took on their roles rather wall and embodied the characters excellently. They became their characters. My first gripe. Karl Urban seemed not to be playing McCoy, he was playing DeForest Kelley playing McCoy.
There were 2 things in the film where I thought they were taking a wrong turn, but my fears were unfounded.
In the pre-credits sequence during the Birth and Death scene as the Michael Giacchino score rose I was immediately concerned that this should have been “Star Trek: LOST (in space)”. You could feel Damon’s influence in that scene as it felt like many of the Lost death scenes we’ve seen.
The climax also concerned me. As TOS:AU Spock was ramming Nero’s ship I realized that there was a potential that the TOS timeline could be restored, which would be rather stereotypical for a Trek story. Logically, I realize that no one would do that, the purpose of the movie was to jettison continuity there’s no way they were going to reestablish it.
Again all in all a great film, and the best thing they could’ve done with the source material. I found it an enjoyable romp with the feel of an updated TOS.