Star Trek v2.0: Sometimes, rebooting really IS the right answer!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 11, 2009

So, this weekend saw the release of the Star Trek reboot from J.J. Abrams, the genius behind Lost and Fringe, two shows I totally love.  Was it any good you ask? (ok, so no one actually asked me, but I have a blog so you’re going to get my opinion anyway!)

Creating your own shows is a great achievement.  Putting your own creations out there is tough enough, but taking something beloved by many, including yours truly, and making it your own, that’s an even taller order.  And we’re talking here about taking something that is not just beloved by many but which has become a part of the fabric of society, woven it at a pretty low level.  It’s amazing anytime something from pop culture pulls that off, and not too many people or things do, but Star Trek is one of those rare beasts.

So, did J.J. screw the pooch, or did he manage to do what eludes nearly every other remake ever done?

Oh, he pulled it off.  Boy did he ever!

I’ve been trying to get my 9-year old son to watch Star Trek for a long time.  Every time, he gets bored and just flat-out can’t get into it.  I’ve tried every version of the show, every spin-off, every movie.  It just doesn’t do it for him (although, he did start to get into First Contact last week when I was flipping through the channels).  Well, I decided to take him to see the new movie.  I figured, if it’s really all I’m hearing, it’s got a shot to pique his interest.  In short, it did.  He loved it.

This movie is top-notch in every possible way.  It’s fantastically entertaining, has some good emotionally-grabbing parts and generally sets up for future installments, and I for one absolutely cannot wait for more.

Now, I’ve yet to see a negative review.  I mean, literally, every single review I’ve read, and I checked out quite a few over the past two weeks, has been raving.  You can definitely add mine to that pile.  So, I’m going to take a different tact… as great as this movie was, it wasn’t perfect.  Here are some things that actually bugged me a bit:

  • The back story of Nero was not covered in nearly enough detail.  Now, I read the comic that sets up the movie, and that does a pretty great job of it, but that’s definitely missing from the movie.  It makes Nero a bit more unknown than I thought was a good idea.  Another 10 minutes of footage maybe would have done the trick I think.
  • The convenience of Kirk being marooned on the same planet as Spock, and right near the cave Spock happens to be in, was a little TOO convenient.  No, make that A LOT too convenient.  Now, it doesn’t so much bother me that he happened to be placed on the same planet… for all I know, that’s the only planet in the Vulcan system aside from Vulcan that is class M.  But finding Spock so easily (even if by accident as it was) stretched things a tad too far.
  • The look of engineering on board the Enterprise just didn’t feel right to me.  It felt a little too retro.  Now, I’m OK with it being more mechanical than, say, engineering on NCC-1701D.  That makes sense.  But it seemed a little TOO much… especially the water pipe system Scottie gets caught in.  That seemed REALLY out of place to me.
  • Not enough Scottie!  Simon Peg does an awesome job with the role, and I really wish he had gotten a lot more screen time.  I suspect that will be the case in the next movie, so I can easily forgive this, but it still would have been really nice to see more of him.
    Chekov.  This is the character I didn’t feel worked too well.  It’s not that the actor did a bad job per se, it just wasn’t up to the level of the other actors, who I think uniformly did great.
  • The story was frankly a bit weak.  Now, I can let this go largely because this was an action movie first and foremost, and the story certainly wasn’t terrible, and I don’t think it was riddled with plot holes or anything like that.  It just wasn’t special in any way.
  • The look of the Enterprise was a little off.  I actually thought it looked a little Romulan at one point, the sweep of the pylons leading to the nacelles.  It wasn’t ugly or anything, just a little… off.  I still think the Enterprise as seen in The Motion Picture is the definitive design for NCC-1701, and I wish they had just copied that.

To be clear, none of this in any way, shape or form ruined my enjoyment of the movie.  But, they were things I noticed that struck me as I watched.

So, what was so great about it?  Well, let’s see… the actors, except for Chekov as noted, did fantastic work.  I echo the sentiment that McCoy was most like the original character, but the differences in all of them never once bothered me, it all seemed right.  The FX were across-the-board fantastic.  I loved that in at least a couple of scenes they actually acknowledge the silence of space, although it would have been nice if they did that in all the space scenes (I understand that might have taken away from the action, so not a huge thing).  The changing of what we’ve previously known I think worked out great.  J.J. and company reset things and set themselves up for the future in a way that I don’t think has to piss anyone off.  Now, there are of course some reasonable questions to be asking… like, since paradoxes were raised, isn’t it likely that the events in the movie would have caused Spock to never be in the position in the future that caused him to go back in time in the first place?  It’s temporal paradoxes 101!

So, in short, this movie rocks!  J.J. and his team did it: the successfully rebooted a franchise that I for one thought could never be rebooted properly.  When I first heard they were doing a prequel cringed big-time.  I NEVER wanted to see this.  Yet, there I was, wishing there was another four hours of movie to sit through, and totally anxious to see the next installment.  Best of all, I think my son is going to be psyched to see it right along with me… I may never be able to get him to sit through the originals, and while I think that’s his loss, I certainly won’t be ashamed that THIS is his Star Trek.  This Star Trek is worthy of all that came before it, without a doubt.

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