I just came back from a pre-screening for JJ Abrams‘s Star Trek. The following review will try and be as spoiler free as possible.
You should know – and you probably should guess it from the site you’re on, I’m a Star Trek fan. I used to be a huge fan and could pretty much list all TNG episodes by name in high school. These days I’ve grown older, spent seven years working on this Star Trek parody, and to the horror of my 12-year-old self, became more or less bored of the later shows starting from Voyager. I’d think eventually even my younger self would understand this, if not because the mediocrity of Enterprise, but with the last film in the series, Star Trek: Nemesis being a piece of radioactive fecal matter that should be hurled into the sun. So now you know from what point I judge this film.
So, how about the film? Simply put, it’s good. If you don’t really care for Star Trek it’s going to be as good as any scifi actioner and definitely worth a try.
Abrams does a great job with the characters, actually he does a far better job at re-creating the original characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy than I expected. Most of all Zachary Quinto’s Spock. He’s been described as having been born to play Spock and yes, he really is that good. Karl Urban as McCoy tries hard to steal every scene he is in, but ends up being kind of underused. The weakest link here is Kirk. The three main characters work together, but left on his own Kirk is a bit bland.
The rest of the crew are pretty underused, Chekov is kind of annoying, Sulu is just like in the original and Uhura has been re-invented as a woman I think everyone always imagined her being – given that all she really did was answer the telephone. The exception here is Simon Pegg as Scotty who goes on and does steal every scene he is in. Then again I couldn’t bring myself to say a bad word about the man unless he punched me in the face and pissed in both of my shoes.
If Finland had any more Trekkers I’d be burned at the stake for saying this, but in many points this re-invented crew of the Enterprise were far more interesting characters than the 60′s originals. In reality though it’s not that big of a suprise if you compare the writing in 60′s tv series to the writing we see these days – it’s not that writers have gotten better, but the industry has changed.
The next thing to notice are the visuals. Let’s get this one out of the way first: The lens flares are ridiculous. They actually kind of work at times, but then they can also be annoying at times. The effects are great, there’s no way around it. And they really manage to avoid the sterile cgi look most of the time. However the designs are where it all gets a bit mixed, really.
There are many things in this movie that look just like what I’d do. There is the drydock scene seen in the trailer. People who only see Star Wreck after seeing this film will think we just did a cheap ripoff of it. It’s actually rather strange experience that scene, since it’s almost perfect in the way that it’s just what I’d do. Then there are the engineering decks of the ships that once again seem to channel what I was kind of thinking Star Wreck should have had – however we never had the resources to show any engineering decks. But then there is the bridge that is… strange. It’s unique allright, but it’s a bit hard to take seriously with it’s decorative walls and bling bling levers. The dissonance continues with the clothes that go from okay to looking like disposable raincoats.
At this point I’m starting to realise that this is not a very traditional film review. Instead I feel more like going trough a raw cut of Star Wreck. Please excuse me, since seven years and all that… However I’m not the only one who will review the film like this. Us Star Trek fans tend to feel a bit possessive of the franchise.
But back to the film. So the characters are great, visuals are good and the film is very entertaining. However one thing that’s lacking is the story. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s both a bit complicated and rather empty. It won’t bore you and if you get confused you most likely won’t care. There is a lot of humor, even so much that sometimes the film feels like a comedy, but there is not much in the way of other feelings. It’s a lighthearted romp trough space. It’s all fine if you consider this is a beginning of a series. As a singular film I would like to have some more meat to sink my teeth into. Another thing I was a bit disappointed of (and I know this is something that will divide opinions like a lightsaber) is that in the end this film wasn’t as much of a clean reboot as I hoped. And certainly not as clean of a reboot I would have done.
Overall I liked the film. Not only did I like to watch it, but I liked it even on the level of agreeing with most of the choices Abrams and co. did. And while it wasn’t a cinematic masterpiece that just leaves me wanting to see the series go on. Origin stories are the hardest and if Star Trek can deliver The Dark Knight to this film’s Batman Begins I will be not only a happy trekkie, but a happy film geek.