…to see Star Trek last week.
All in all, I felt the new Star Trek hit all the right emotional notes. I believe much of the credit goes to the cast. Though the writers clearly played homage to the original characters, each of the cast members worked to make the iconic Star Trek characters their own and turned in consistent and believable performances that I truly enjoyed. The two standouts for me were Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike and Karl Urban and Dr. McCoy. Credit also goes to Michael Giacchino for creating a stirring soundtrack.
The premise was a fun twist on the idea of a madman seeking revenge on the crew of the Enterprise. In this case the villain is essentially an ordinary miner accidentally sent back in time when his planet is destroyed. I especially enjoyed how the writers and cast explored and embellished upon the classic characters. In the original series there were moments, especially early in the series, when Spock and Uhura flirted. This has been turned into a full-fledged romance. Also, Sulu finally got to show off his fencing ability. If I had a complaint about characters, it’s simply that they could have spent more time with the miner, Nero, and allowed Eric Bana to develop that character more.
Overall, I felt the plot was serviceable but not extraordinary. It served the purpose of introducing the crew to one another and was a fun ride worth taking. Even though I did like the little spin the writers put on the familiar revenge plot, I think it would have been stronger if the crew had faced a more original challenge. For me, revenge is a dish that has grown cold.
I really liked the movie’s production design. In my last post I mentioned that I was especially interested in the look of the Enterprise’s engineering section. After watching the movie, I definitely felt that an engineering section full of pipes, conduits and big machines seemed more correct for a starship like the Enterprise than the set used in the original series. In the series, I never could figure out why engineering was this big empty room, but Scotty always had to crawl into cramped spaces filled with pipes to actually fix something. That said, because engineering in the new movie was a redress of an actual industrial location, it somehow felt too big to fit in the ship. It would be nice if in the next movie they could find a compromise between the two extremes and find something that seems both like it’s functional and fits inside the ship.
My favorite element of the production design was the uniforms. In the original series, there were hints that the crew wore colorful shirts over black t-shirts. In this movie, it’s clear that’s the case and it was nice to see the classic uniforms on the big screen.
Given my background in astronomy, there was one moment in the film that particularly bothered me. It was a scene in which Spock is standing on one planet and watches the destruction of another planet. The only way he could see the event with the clarity shown would be if the planet he stood on was orbiting the other planet. However, from the course of events in the film, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case. However, the context of the scene is that Spock is conveying his memories to Kirk through a mind meld. It occurs to me that Spock might not have literally seen the destruction of the planet in question, but might have felt it much like he felt the destruction of a starship in the original series. Given that Spock has been there and done that and given that Obi-Wan Kenobi also went there and did that in the first Star Wars when Alderaan was destroyed, it’s probably just as well that Spock didn’t go there and do that again. I think it’s good that the writers came up with a new way of presenting his reaction to the destruction of a planet. However, it would have been nice if it was more clearly a “visual metaphor” than it was.
All in all, I must say I enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek. I’ve already seen it twice and I look forward to getting it on DVD so I can see it a few more times.