Star Trek (2009)
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy: "Don't pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait'll you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."
I am a Trekkie, not a Trekker or whatever the hell they call themselves now, I am a Trekkie. If there was a Trek convention happening near me and I wasn’t a broke white boy I would go in full costume. So this is going to be a fairly involved review. I apologize. I started this review a while ago and stopped when I was at two pages (just movie not including intro) and we hadn’t gotten past the twenty minute mark in the movie. I realized that no one wanted to read that. (If you want the full nerd rants please leave a request in the comments and if I get five, I will finish and post the full Trekkie nerd rant.) Also, I am not doing the spoilers section. I honestly cannot figure out where to put it, you should watch the movie first, and since this review pulls in 6 TV shows and 10 movies, it seems a moot point. So here I intend to review as both a movie, and hit on the major things that bother me as a fan of Star Trek.
Star Trek is great television and film. It shows humanity at its worst and at its best; usually at its best by overcoming its worst. By making our hatred or bigotry literally alien, it shows how ridiculous it is and how easy it is to overcome it. Watch “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” (The Original Series 3x15) or “Far Beyond the Stars” (Deep Space Nine 6x13) and you can see some of the best examples. So when anything involving Star Trek comes out, I hold it to a really high standard. When Paramount announced it was planning to reboot the original series, I bounced between how awesome it could be and the sheer blasphemy they were invoking by attempting this.
Paramount did a great job of getting the most popular talent it could for the reboot. Produced by J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe, everything) and written by Roberto Orci (The Island, Watchmen, Transformers 2007) and Alex Kurtzman (The Island, Watchmen, Transformers 2007). Then we have another star-studded line up for the infamous crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise with Chris Pine (Unstoppable, This Means War, Smoking Aces) as James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto (Heroes, 24, American Horror Story) as Spock, Karl Urban (Dredd, Lord of the Rings, Red) as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Simon Pegg (Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, John Cho (American Pie, Harold & Kumar, Flash Forward) as Hikaru Sulu, Zoe Saldana (Avatar, The Losers, Drumline) as Uhura and finally Anton Yelchin (Fright Night, Terminator Salvation, Alpha Dog).playing Pavel Chekov. The cast is a wonderful mix of bankable hot stars and nerd stars. Later we would find out that Eric Banna (Hulk, Munich, Black Hawk Down) was the unnamed villain (Nero). Being an Abrams flick everything was secret and we got nothing about the story besides it was the first mission of the crew. Every now and then there would be a photo or a clip that would again show us nothing. “Here’s Chris Pine in a black shirt against a blue screen that may or may not be the bridge of the Enterprise.” After months of waiting the full trailer came out (and will be the one I post below) and it was AMAZING. The music (Two Steps to Hell by the Freedom Fighters), the pacing, the voice-over was all spectacular. I probably watched it eighty times the first week. Granted, the trailer had a few things that upset the Trekkie in me, namely that the Enterprise is being built on Earth, but it looked like Trek. So how did the movie hold up? Is it worthy of the 46 years of history it has the balls to attempt and rewrite? Continue reading let’s find out.
The movie opens on the U.S.S. Kelvin in a beautiful pull-out/flyover shot. There is a black hole thingy, they scan it and then this monstrosity comes out of nowhere and just proceeds to trash the Kelvin. Everyone is rushing around and the Kelvin is about to blow up with the bad guys having fired just two cluster torpedoes which equals something like 500 shots. Cheaters. A scary face (Ayal played by Clifton Collins Jr.) pops on the view screen and orders Captain Robau to take a shuttle and board the Narada along and unarmed. Knowing they are clearly out matched he tells Mr. Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) to take command, and run if things go bad. He then proceeds to make his way to the shuttle. When Robau gets aboard the Narada, he is taken before Captain Nero and Ayal. Ayal immediately asks the location of Ambassador Spock while bringing up a hologram of none other than Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock. He then asks what the star-date is with Robau responding 2233. Nero immediately yells and stabs Robau in the chest with a wicked spear. Back on the Kelvin, the crew is monitoring Robau’s vitals, start to panic when he flat-lines and their world explodes when Narada resumes fire. Kirk gives the order to ram the Narada and abandon ship. Kirks wife is going into labor as the evacuation order is given and the medical crews rush her to the shuttle. More awesome space battle! The auto pilot is apparently damaged and Kirk orders the bridge crew to leave and he will fly the ship himself. He tells the shuttle to leave without him, and they do. While piloting he talks to his wife (Winona if you care, they never mention it) over the communicator while she gives birth. They have a baby boy, and jokingly argue about what to name their son, settling on James Tiberius Kirk. George Kirk tells his wife he loves her, the Kelvin rams into the Narada, most of the shuttles escape, flying past a star as the Star Trek logo rotates in over the scene.
Wow. That opening is pretty solid. The music feels new, but right. I originally thought the U.S.S. Kelvin (Abrams grandfather’ name) was a space station during the pullout/pan over shot. There is a lot I hear and see in the first two minutes. A LOT. They are near the Klingon boarder. The ship looks like the old Trek ships, great. Klingons! Why is there only one nacelle on the Kelvin? The pinging is awesome. THOR! The view screen is awesome. What the hell is that ship? It looks Borgish. The bridge looks like it should! When is this? Is that a Romulan? Clearly they are from the future. Borgship? Why Romulans, we had them last time. I am such a nerd. So yeah, a lot. It does a great job of just throwing you in and not letting up. Quick dialogue, quick cuts, and fast paced action, which I thought was beautifully done. I even like the lens flare. Granted, in a few spots it was over bearing, but it is different, it gives the movie a gritty feel and I like it. When Robau said “You’re in charge, Mr. Kirk.”, all I could think in the theater was “Thor is Kirks dad!” and chuckle. I was a little disappointed the bad guys are Romulans, mostly because they were central to Nemesis’s (the last movie) storyline and they mentioned Klingons. I wanna see rebooted Klingons now. The Narada is something else, just massive and gave me a Borg feel. I would find out later when I read the lead-in comic Star Trek: Countdown, that it is in fact partly Borg. When Ayal asked about Ambassador Spock and showed Nimoy Spock my response was “What the fudging hell!?!”. Ok. Time Travel. That’s the only thing it can be. Sure enough, his next question was the year. Nero’s response to that was just perfect. Rage scream, stab. Pre-Thor Chris Helmsworth was decent as George Kirk, and the last time I believe we will ever see him that small. The whole auto-pilot pissed me off a little. You bravely take the helm, letting your crew live and go down with the ship as a great captain should. But if the auto pilots broken, don’t you have to actually PILOT the ship? No, he sets a course, and then kicks back in the Captains seat while talking to his wife. Seriously made it look like he had all time in the world, but chose not to escape. Very similar to Captain America. Unlike Captain America, this could have been easily solved with some more of the frantic button pushing they had going on earlier. Show me there was a reason he had to stay especially when he is the reason James T. Kirk prime originally joined Starfleet. If you’re going to trample source material make it worth my while. It also makes no sense from a movie standpoint. The logo was nice, well played CG.
Back in the movie; we are in Iowa, Kirks home state. Kid James Kirk steals his step-dads Corvette. Nokia phones still exist and Kirk likes to rock out to the Beastie Boys while driving cars off cliffs. On Vulcan we see kid Spock gets bullied for the 38th time because he is half human. He has a father/son moment with Sarek. We flash to adult Spock asking his mother (Winona Ryder) which path he should take, the Kolinahr, the Vulcan ritual of purging all emotions for one’s self or joining the Vulcan Science Academy. She tells him that she will be proud no matter what he does. He goes before the council, who grant him admission but mock him about his human mother, so he declines (being the first to do so) and tells them “live long and prosper” in a classic fuck-off tone. On Earth, at some really out of the way bar, adult Kirk hits on Uhura while she orders Budweisers. A classmate of Uhura takes issue to the farm boy hitting on Starfleet and a brawl ensues. Kirk starts off strong, but gets beat on until a shrill whistle interrupts the melee. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) tells the cadets to get out. Afterwards Pike is chatting with Kirk. He apparently was aboard the Kelvin and knew Kirks father. Saying Starfleet needs people like Kirk, he appeals to Kirk with “Look, so your Dad dies. Can you settle for a less than ordinary life, or do you feel like you were meant for something better? Something special? Enlist in Starfleet.” Kirk of course just blows this off and makes jokes. Pike leaves telling Kirk the shuttle leaves in the morning. So of course, in the morning Kirk is at the spaceport/dock/farm/I don’t know and joins up, giving his motorcycle to a worker in the process. He meets Bones and hits on Uhura again. They leave for the Academy, sweeping over the ship under construction.
Gee, wonder what ship that is. These bits are not bad, just raise questions. Mainly, what is going on with the bar and shipyard? Starfleet is associated heavy with San Francisco, why is the recruiting shuttle at a ship dock in Iowa. Hell, WHY IS THERE A SHIP DOCK IN IOWA? In the Star Trek Technical Manuals, the registry plaque (a plate on the bridge that gives the name, number when and where the vessel was built) and Mr. Scotts Guide to the Enterprise it is mentioned that the ship is built in San Francisco. Technically the saucer section was, but still, why was this change necessary? Why couldn't this happen at a bar in San Francisco where Kirk happens to be passing through? Why do I care? Oh, wait, I’m a Trekkie. What’s this movies excuse? It would have made a better backdrop with the bridge and the bay. Also, why can anyone wander up to the construction site? Are there no safety rules in the future? Overlooking that stated Trek history says that ship will never get off the ground in one piece, why can anyone wander in that site? Is there not a signal person who might pose a security concern (Tal’Shiar, Obsidian Order, and Klingons)? It’s a cool back drop, but 30 seconds more thought could have made it better.
3 years later, Nero locates Spock. At the Academy, Kirk is taking the Kobayashi Maru test for the third time. He exchanges banter with Bones about it, then goes to the beautiful, half-naked Orion Gaila (Rachel Nichols) dorm room for some heavy petting before getting caught by her roommate Uhura who is home early because of an attack in Klingon space (important later). At the test room, Kirk acts like a jack-ass during the simulation before the power blinks out and then wins. Seriously, was he trying to get caught? Spock is surprised his test was beat and stares determinedly. Surprise, surprise the next scene is an assembly where Admiral Richard Barnett (Tyler Perry, seriously?) calls Kirk to the stand for cheating. Spock and Kirk exchange some banter before being interrupted by a distress call from Vulcan, apparently they are having seismic problems and need aid. Since the main fleet is engaged in the Laurentian system, the cadets are being put into service. At the space port Uhura is pissed because Spock put her on the U.S.S. Farragut and she wants to be on the Enterprise. Spock thought it would be favoritism as they are a couple apparently. Kirk is grounded because of his cheating, so Bones infects him with a virus and somehow gets him aboard because he is a Doctor. The shuttle takes them to the space station, where we get our first shot of the finished Enterprise in a fly-by.
Aboard we get our introduction of Sulu and Chekov. Sulu forgets the “parking brake on the ship and Chekov cant access the computer because of his accent. On their way to Vulcan, Chekov describes the same anomaly that destroyed the Kelvin which Kirk hears when he wakes up in sickbay. He is having a reaction to the virus Bones gave him and now has swelled hands and numb tongue. He finds Uhura in a weird room while Bones chases him with meds, she confirms that Romulans attacked the Klingons a day or two ago (not real clear on the time span). They race to the bridge to inform Captain Pike that Vulcan is not having seismic anomalies, but in fact under attack. Pike hears them out and raises shields. They arrive at Vulcan and realize there is a giant ship in orbit. The Narada opens fire until Nero realizes it is the Enterprise and decides to play with them. He gives Pike the same command as Robau and screws with Spock telling him that he has something he wants Spock to see. Pike takes Kirk, Sulu and red shirt engineer Olson with him. The Narada has lowered a drill and is boring to Vulcans core; the team is going to space dive down to it and shut it down while Pike goes to Nero. He puts Spock in command, and promotes Kirk to First Officer. We find out during the attack the Doctor died, so now Bones is the Chief Medical Officer.
The shuttle leaves, and as it flies towards the Narada the team space-dives to the platform. Olson immediately shows his red-shirtness and turns the jump into a race, resulting in his somewhat funny death. Kirk makes it and engages the Romulans while Sulu misses, getting his chute tangled on the platform and fights to get aboard before either falling to his death or incinerating in the laser drill. Aboard the Narada, Nero is preparing the “red-matter”, which will cause a black hole to form inside Vulcan. Sulu makes it aboard the platform, pulling out a nifty sword and helps Kirk fight the rest. They then, literally, shot the hell out of the machine to stop it. But Nero launches the red matter anyways and Vulcan starts to break apart. When the Narada begins to retract the platform, Sulu falls off and Kirk jumps to get him. The parachute fails because they are falling to fast and Chekov is the only person on the ship who can beam them back. After a tense moment he does. Then Spock decides to go and get his parents who are with the council in a cave. So they beam him something like 100 yards away. He gets to them; they get back outside and are beaming up when the mountain gives away and his mother falls to her death. The Enterprise speeds away as Vulcan disintegrates.
So. Where to begin? Let’s start with, how in the hell did Vulcan not know it was under attack? They are one of the science masters of the universe and you expect us to believe that they thought the planet was having mass earthquakes, not the giant ship in orbit around the planet? Bullshit. They didn't notice the giant laser drill boring into the core of the planet? Double bullshit. Also, why huddle in the cave and not monitor the GIANT SHIP DRILLING YOUR PLANET? Come on. It’s like George Kirk at the beginning, let me just sit back while I die. And then, after showing us Chekov’s master skills with the transporter, Spock’s mom dies why? Why didn’t Spock beam to the cave entrance? Why was she harder to teleport then Kirk and Sulu free falling? Just spew some techno babble and say something about the black-hole causing issues with the transporter, not just kill someone for no reason. I did love Nero’s nonchalant attitude when talking to Pike. Those played really well, and made me giggle a bit. The whole Vulcan thing, felt forced, like a gag. I feel more effort would be put in if Vulcan were under attack. It would be like someone attacking New York City and the U.S. going, eh, send the rookies because we don’t care while the New Yorkers went to a baseball game. Moving on.
After escaping Vulcan, Spock gives us our first Captains log where he explains that he is now part of an endangered species and unsure of what to do. Uhura attempts to give him comfort, but he isn’t ready for it. Aboard the Narada, Nero interrogates Pike. He also finally gives an answer for what the hell is going on. Nero was a miner in the year 2362. A supernova threatens Romulus and the Spock said he would help, but either didn’t or failed to. So now he has destroyed Vulcan to show them how it feels. On the Enterprise, Spock is holding a meeting on the bridge to figure out what to do. Kirk pitches attacking the Narada, while Spock wants to regroup with the rest of the fleet, and Bones states the obvious with a metaphor as he does so well. Spock orders a rendezvous with the fleet and Kirk gets pissed, getting in a fight with security when Spock orders him off the bridge. So Spock nerve pinches him, and then has him tossed in an escape-pod launching him off the ship. Kirk wakes up on Delta Vega and starts making his way the nearby Starfleet outpost. Along the way he encounters not one but two giant monsters that want to eat him. He makes it to a cave that conveniently holds, gasp, Spock Prime. Kirk has no idea who he is, but Spock Prime keeps calling him old friend. Eventually they mind-meld and Spock Prime tells us the whole back story. In the Prime Star Trek universe (where all the old stuff happens) a supernova is heading towards Romulas. It threatens more than Romulas and Spock Prime told the Romulans he would save their planet. Left to get the red matter and stop the supernova, but did not make it back in time to save Romulas. Nero gave chase, intending to destroy Spock Prime, but they were instead pulled into the black hole, with Nero going through first. Spock arrived and Nero was waiting to capture him, then marooned him on Delta Vega to watch Vulcan die. They talk of the alternate timeline, mainly Kirks father, and then head out to the outpost.
At the outpost they meet Keenser (Deep Roy) and Montgomery Scott. Spock tells him that he can give Scotty and Kirk a way to beam aboard the Enterprise while it is at warp. Scotty Prime apparently developed the equation in the future and Spock Prime is willing to use it to get Scotty and Kirk aboard and take command of the Enterprise. He tells Kirk is to use Starfleet regulations to remove Spock from command based on his emotional state. They beam aboard, into the ships water plant, with Scotty ending up in a tube that leads to giant spinning blades. Kirk manages to get him out but not before security notices and moves to stop them. Kirk gets busted by the guy in the bar at the beginning, who takes them to the bridge. Spock immediately wants to know how they broke the laws of physics and got on board. Kirk attempts to piss him off with his cockiness, succeeding. Spock proceeds to fall for Kirk's ploy by beating him relentlessly about the face until Sarek speaks at him. Realizing what he has done, he relieves himself of command and leaves the bridge. Kirk takes command while everyone else is trying to figure out what just happened, causing Scotty to call the Enterprise “Exciting”. Kirk immediately changes course to catch the Narada, his game plan being “either there going down or we are.” In the transporter room, Sarek and Spock have a moment, Spock explaining how he is angry and conflicted like he was when younger. Sarek tells him the story of his mother, essentially stating that Spock is human and Vulcan, and sometimes emotions are a good thing. Spock then goes to the bridge, getting in on Kirk's plans to board the Narada.
Scotty Prime came up with an equation that essentially lets you beam anywhere, Spock Prime memorized this equation, and 129 year old junk-yard shuttle equipment is capable of doing that. Why then wasn't this used to beam the red matter device into the black hole, saving Romulas and not causing Nero to go crazy? Why not use this to beam aboard the Narada and stop Nero right now? Just saying, the guys blowing up planets, this might be urgent. You may have pulled that card a little earlier Spock Prime. Also, this is getting a little too convenient. Kirk, Spock Prime, and Scotty are all on the same planet, Kirk just happens to find Spock Prime, who just happens to have the only way to get to the ship, that’s three strikes in 15 minutes. Also, trans warp was a version of a warp drive. It was the big experiment to get past warp ten that failed horribly. Anyone remember Star Trek 3? So are they beaming at warp ten?
The Narada is at Earth and begins to drill in San Francisco Bay. The Enterprise does some fancy flying and puts itself into the atmosphere of Titan. The shot of it rising up through the clouds is pretty stunning. Kirk and Spock beam over to the Narada, fighting their way to Spock Primes ship (Jellyfish and built by Geordi LaForge if you care). Spock makes a comment on how the ship knows him and calls him Ambassador, then takes off. Kirk fights his way to Captain Pike, running into Nero. They duel, with Nero making comments on how famous Kirk Prime was and how he is going to kill Kirk now. Meanwhile Spock shots the drill. Nero leaves Kirk to Ayal while he goes to open fire on Spock, who warps away. Nero orders the Narada to follow. Out of warp, Spock sets a ramming course for the Narada, which opens fire to the trailers famous “Fire everything!” The Enterprise warps in, also opening fire with everything. Kirk shots Ayal, grabs Captain Pike and Scotty beams them and Spock to safety as Spock’s ship rams the Narada causing a black hole to appear, sucking in the Narada. Kirk offers to rescue the crew, much to Spock’s disapproval, and Nero counts off the things he would rather do then be rescued by Kirk. Kirk resumes fire, causing the black hole to suck in the Enterprise as well. They go to warp, and cannot escape the pull. So Scotty ejects all the warp core (more on this in a minute) and the blast of them frees the ship.
Afterwards on Earth, Spock confuses Spock Prime for Sarek and they meet for the first time. Spock Prime says he is going to help set up New Vulcan so Spock can stay in Starfleet. Kirk gets an award from Pike and the Enterprise is now his ship. The Enterprise leaves space dock on their first voyage as a full crew. The movie ends with the voice-over “Space, the final frontier…” from Nimoy and an update on the original theme music blending into the movies music.
Ok, first the warp core bit. Scotty said he was ejecting the core, singular. On screen eight cores come flying out, so which is it? One or eight? In prime Star Trek all Starfleet ships had one core, this ship has eight. This is also not counting the fact that Kirks Enterprises could not eject the cores. Also, if they were at warp and the core was ejected, they would drop out of warp. Done, over, you cannot sustain warp speed without the warp engine, duh. Not complicated, or extreme science, its simply no motor, no go.
When I first saw this in theaters, I lost all track of time. I was actually thinking to myself “it’s over?” while everyone around me cheered at the credits. It did a great job of sucking me in and keeping me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I enjoyed the grittiness and the tone, I liked the lens flare, the space battles were a marked improvement over the originals and acting was great. The crew really made me feel like they were the characters. Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Zachary Quinto nailed the characters with Pegg and Urban being the best of the new cast in my opinion. The rest are great, Chekov was a little heavy with the accent at times, but no one is perfect. Hell, I think I like Chris Pine better then Shatner. I also get the feeling the writers did not like Shatner since Kirk gets the crap kicked out of him like every 15 minutes.
The biggest issue on re-watching would have to be the spectacle. It really seemed that they bounced from one sequence to another, as if the script was written by piecing together cool scenes they thought of. The flu thing, the space-diving, the monster chases all felt like gimmicks and not fully fleshed scenes. While the movie has great pacing and isn't that bad, it really has no heart. Most Trek films had a theme or point, what is this movies point? Guys from the future can wreck your life at any point? I feel if we had gotten to know Nero more it could be about the depths of revenge, but we hardly see or get to know him. Too much coincidence/ deus ex machina happen for my taste; again, something I feel could have been solved with more thought.
Overall the star-ships in this movie are good. The new Enterprise is pretty and impressive looking. It is a nice blend of original TV show version, the movie version and brand new. The bridge isn't perfect, but all the parts are there and so is the chair, which I thought they would completely change. I love this versions take on the view-screen, it is awesome and something I hadn't thought of. My biggest complaint would have to be not enough of the ship was shown. Half of the meetings on the bridge would have felt more natural in a conference room, which is never seen. And what is going on in the room Uhura is in at the beginning of the mission, it makes no sense to me. Were the screens projected on the ends of water tanks? What are they doing in there? They seriously looked cramped and uncomfortable to look at.
Now I need to get serious in my nerdiness. If the divergence in the timelines is Nero blowing up the Kelvin, how did that make the Enterprise to be built at least 20 years later? In Prime Trek, the ship is up and running when Kirk is 10. It is when he first falls in love with it. Robert April was the first Captain for a couple years, followed by Pike who had it for years before Kirk. So the ship should at least be in late construction when the Narada appeared, if not finished. Next bit of insaness. When Spock Prime meets Scotty, they talk about Scott’s theories of teleportation and Scotty mentions Admiral Archer’s prize beagle. To me they must be talking about Jonathan Archers (Scott Bakula/Enterprise) beagle Porthos. But this is 2233, and Porthos was around in 2161, 72 years earlier. So beagles now live to be at least 72? While I am glad that Enterprise got a nod (it wasn't that bad of a show), just seems to be stretching it a bit. And did anyone else notice the tribble in the cage? I chuckled.
I have heard repeated comments that this movie is Star Wars for Star Trek, and duh. The technology is available now to makes the beautiful space battles so why not? Deep Space Nine already did what they could with big battle scenes; why not take it the next step? My problem with it is the fact that they seemed too concentrated on the spectacle of the movie that they forgot the heart. This was a great introduction to the Trek universe, but I hope they remember it is the Trek universe. The spectacle worked for this one, it won’t hold up a series. While I do not want a public service announcement, a message or analysis about humanity would be nice. For losing an entire planet, the movie has less emotional resonance then Nemesis where we only lost one main crew member. As a movie, it is 4 out of 5 stars. As a Star Trek movie, I give it 3 out of 5, and it only surpasses Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier. If you are a non Trekkie or have never seen a Star Trek movie before, try this one. It is a fun movie that will suck you in for a decent ride as long try not to analyze it. If you’re a die-hard Trekkie, I suggest Star Trek 2 or 6 because this might give you a headache.
Did it hold up? Eh. Love the crew, but the errors that could have been solved by referring to the series bible (which does exist) would have helped a bunch. The movie doesn't really hold up against the original in content, but the spirit was there. The sequel should be interesting; I need another outing with this crew before I can pass full judgment.
Compared to this trailer, the movie was crap. This trailer is pretty epic.