Star Trek Movie Review

May 11th, 2009 by Potato

The new Star Trek movie was quite enjoyable to watch. The biggest standout I would have to say is Bones, whoever it is that’s playing him was just fantastic, but pretty much every new casting for the original cast was well done (I’m not 100% sure of John Cho as Sulu, but I’ll give him another movie to prove me wrong :). It is a reboot, with a new look and feel, but it didn’t seem like it disrespected the long history of Trek. Definitely worth catching, and didn’t feel like just another TV two-parter writ large. But now for the nitpicks:

Spoiler Warning!

I liked the gimbal-mounted phasor setup on the USS Kelvin, but I half-expected it to evolve to the arbitrary disk phasor thingamajig when we got to the Enterprise two decades later. The fight scene over Vulcan, dodging debris, was quite good, adding the dynamic element that’s typically missing from Star Trek battles. I liked the silence in some of the space scenes. Beyond that though, the science was soft-to-nonexistant.

It is Star Trek, so there will always be a few head-scratchers in the physics/self-consistency department, and one that really got me scratching my head was the whole red matter thing. Ok, we take it as a given that there’s this stuff that can explode and cause a black hole (and further give them that for whatever reason you need to drill to a planet’s core to destroy it with a black hole, rather than just spawning one on the surface) which could in turn absorb the supernova threatening Romulus*… but why if only a tiny drop is needed/used at a time, was Spock running around with this huge sphere of the stuff? I also accepted that these freshly-graduated cadets would get valuable positions on the Enterprise since it didn’t have full crew strength… but as much as we know that Pike sees potential in Kirk, I still can’t quite see why he would have made him 1st officer on his first flight out.

* – and in my mind it’s got to be a goof that something as everyday in the Trek universe as a supernova could threaten the whole galaxy, so I’ve already ret-conned that to “threatened Romulus” in my mind — after all, if the Romulan empire was threatened with extinction, that in turn would threaten the galaxy since they would probably go on some kind of homicidal expansion effort…

Wayfare pointed out a few other ones, like why if they called to be beamed out seconds later, why Kirk had to untie Pike at all? Or the big one at the end, why bother sticking around risking the ship on the edge of a forming black hole to fire a few (probably ineffective) shots at a ship that was already being consumed by said black hole? Sure, one can make the argument that it’s to prevent the Romulans from skipping around the edge and travelling through time again, and when they did pause to fire at them I really expected the movie to end with the Enterprise turning towards the black hole and warping through time and space by skimming the edge…

Anyhow, for me the weakest element would have to be the villans. I just didn’t think Nero was fleshed out all that well — sure, he’s clearly broken after losing his whole planet, attaching everything and anything, but we don’t really see anything beyond that: he’s just a one-dimensional boogeyman; Khan’s dim shadow. Even then, after destroying the Kelvin in his rage, he seems to just lay low for 25 years, without attacking other starfleet vessels, or trying to sneak advanced weapons to the Romulans, or anything (except perhaps packing on the pounds, nervous eating or something). We don’t even get to find out how he lost part of his pointy ear. Plus his ship is super-weird looking based on all the other Romulan stuff we’ve seen: no wings or swooping lines, no green illumination. Sure, it’s a futuristic mining ship of some sort, rather than a bird of prey, but we never get to find out if it’s just because the ship designer wanted something more unique and menacing, or if there’s a story behind it.

Of course, I’ve always thought the Romulans were poorly used as villains. They had this mystique to them, what with their cloaking ships, and spying, double-crossing ways, and ability to look a lot like Vulcans. But it’s never really been used to very good effect when they show up as villains. I was particularly surprised to see a Romulan villain after the rather weak (IMHO) Nemesis (where the Romulans themselves were quickly replaced by a human and the vampire Romulans).

The way that they’ve put themselves into this parallel dimension was fairly clever, and it should allow for a re-visiting of some earlier villians (esp. Khan Noonien Singh) in completely different settings. Can you imagine now finding the Botany Bay for the first time and instead of a psychotic mastermind hell-bent on revenge, we could start over with the merely half-psychotic mastermind interested in a little conquest and empire-building? Perhaps he could even influence a younger, more ambitious Kirk…

Edit/further thoughts (more spoilers):

Ok, I didn’t want to bring it up in the first draft, but what the heck was up with the oompa-ewok with Scottie?

After reading some other reviews on the internet (and their comments), I found out that apparently there was a set of deleted scenes that showed the Romulan vessel disabled and drifting after being rammed by the Kelvin… Klingons come upon it in this weakened state and capture the Romulans. It takes them 25 years to recover their mining vessel and escape (and that was the source of the Klingon transmissions Uhura picked up). Can’t wait for the extended DVD to show that…

2 Responses to “Star Trek Movie Review”

  1. Netbug Says:

    Bones was Karl Urban… he of Borne Supremacy, Riddick and Lord of the Rings.

    Also of Pathfinder… but I guess you can’t always pick winners.

  2. Mr. Cheap Says:

    I think a lot of your nitpicks are valid (especially when they had trouble getting out of the black hole, I was like “WTF? Why didn’t you just leave sooner???”). I thought the new Chekhov was the weakest character by far.

    I also found Spock and Uhura make-out sessions a bit odd. I’m able to resist sucking face with people in public, and I’m not even Vulcan!

    I thought Nero was interesting, as a everyday Joe who’s trying to change the galaxy. It will be interesting if the DVD offers an explanation why he didn’t do anything for 25 years.

    Overall, I loved the movie though. I hope they’ve saved the franchise.