Reviews: Star Trek

It's an origin movie, whaddaya want?

Eh. I like Star Trek '09.

I feel compelled to explain why, given how many people here have slammed it. And I gave Into Darkness a thumbs down for, essentially coasting on the origin story for a bit too long, and brainlessly referencing the London Bombings, the Afgan War, etc.

Star Trek is an origin story, and pretty good one. We've got the requisite terrible villain, in keeping with origin movie tradition. Anyone who claims Nero is a great villain has, frankly, drunk the Kool-Aid and is lost to us. But it doesn't matter, because he is a macguffin to rewrite history and propel the story.

I enjoy Pine. He seems like a well-meaning roughneck who yearns to be greater, but lacked direction.

One worrisome thing, which came back to bite us in the sequel, is the Spock/Uhura tryst. Ooo-kay? So, then what? They either break up, or she leaves him for Kirk. Either outcome will bore me to tears.

Hehe. Can you imagine Uhura dumping them for Scotty again?

Also, we have established Kirk and Spock as angry young men with deep-seated issues. Kirk had no father, and thus has nothing but contempt for authority. He still has no respect for the chain of command as of writing.

Spock was tormented all his life by peers and colleagues. He will probably never be the noble, cool-headed intellectual that Nimoy was, ever. He is too damaged.

You can argue that this makes the crew more interesting. It does, for the moment. But these guys will never be plausible as the TOS crew. They're going to be emo teens forever.

Star Trek divided by Star Wars.

I've never been a Star Trek fan but I do have a bit of affection for it. The positive reviews this thing has been getting built up my expectations, but sitting across from a very jaded Original Series fan tempered that a bit. In the end, we were both wrong: this film isn't good, nor is it Batnipple terrible. It's just mediocre. Its laser-lit, uninvolving action sequences (and there are a damn sight too many of these, by the way) are reminiscent of Star Wars minus everything that was good about Star Wars, but with no flavour of its own to compensate.

Its aesthetic is unimaginative, the acting is mostly forgettable, the score is competent but generic and the script is the weakest point of all. The rushed, railroaded plot doesn't allow nearly enough time for the audience to get invested in the movie, the dialogue is predictable and cliched and character development is conspicuous by its absence. Star Trek rides on the coattails of the Original Series for its characterisation, hoping the audience's minds will do half of the script's work for it when they see Kirk, Spock and Mc Coy.

Like I said, it's not bad - there's just no reason to like it. It doesn't feel like Star Trek because it doesn't feel like anything. It's charmless and pointless. All I got from this film was a vague sense of embarassment that all of the negative stereotypes about the Sci Fi genre had been reinforced for so many cinemagoers.

Stupid, just stupid.

  • Warning: Mild spoilers***

This isn't as much a review as a testiment that you can only enjoy the movie if you switched off your brain. Star Trek has always been leaning on the loose side of realism, even if one accounts for science-fiction stuff, but let me get this one thing straight:

The Romulan homesystem's sun is going supernova. Okay, happens all the time somewhere in the universe ... and I may, under circumstances even ignore the fact that the Romulans would have undoubtedly possessed the knowledge to notice a sun going supernova (really, it's hard not to notice, it doesn't really happen over night damnit), but the "solution" just downright kicks common sense in the balls, then kicks down some more after common sense lies cringing on the floor and then lastly shoots common sense in the head from behind with SW 500 Nitro Express execution style:

By turning the sun into a black hole.

Really? Nevermind that a system based on anything even remotely similar to what the Romulans are could never provide complex life of any known sort without a sun as a source for light and warmth, what did the writers think a black hole would do to the system that would be so much better than a supernova? So the problem blows you away, but the solution ripping you apart on a gravitation structural level is somehow better?


A nice action flick if you're drunk and may even be tolerable sober if you can turn off your brain, but for everyone else it's downright insulting their intelligence.

4 out of 5 stars

Star treck is a very good film. Despite what some people say,I really enjoyed it. And while yes the logic of the black hole to save Romulus was a bit far fetched I would think that it is justified in that there was not a lot of time for a proper solution and the movie implies that this was detected possibly hours before the nova would happen. The cast played very well and I believed it to be true to the original material. Plus the music was TERIFIC!!! All in all a solid movie expirence worth a watch or 3. (DISCLAMER despite my name I am not joking)

Highly enjoyable for fans and non-fans

This review is added because the 3 seperated Laconic reviews are just not detailed enough (the one by Firebird47, especially: why is the film suck?).

I will have to tell you this first: my experience with Star Trek is mostly limited to Voyager, and a bit of DS 9 and TNG, none with TOS.

One of the things that this film has done is going for Alternate Continuity / Broad Strokes, so that the film crews will not need to be limited to the massive continuity. This, of course, means that the rabid fanboys will go for Ruined FOREVER, They Changed It Now It Sucks and such, but, in my opinion, this might actually have been the strongest point of the film, because it actually makes it able to recreate the character development of the crews in an interesting way (as far as I'm aware, note my experience with Trek), and also means that you don't need massive knowledge with the whole Trek-verse to understand the plot, which is a very good news for non-fans or casual fans like me (but if you do have those knowledge, this combine with the tie-in comic Countdown will make a very enjoyable experience).

The other good points of this film include: very good performances, humor (damn, I like Scotty, he's funny! Being portrayed by Simon Pegg helps a lot), top-notch visual effects, and the scores. I don't think I've heard of Michael Giacchino's scores, but his scores for this film makes the whole pieces more powerful, and enjoyable, to boot.

Of course, this doesn't mean that there are no criticisms of this film. For me, it's mainly with Nero's plot (sure, you want Spock to feel the pain of homeworld being destroyed, but destroying all other Federation's planets? Right...)

In the end, though, this is a highly enjoyable Trek film that finally averts the cursed odd film = sucks (probably in the different way that Nemesis averted the even film = good, but I do enjoy the space fight scene in Nemesis, heh).

Why should I root for them?

This film is fun, but problematic. My greatest hangup with it is that the characters often aren't very likable (in and of itself not the problem) but the film/other characters never call them out on it and they are extravagantly rewarded on top of it. Of the three leads, let's start with Kirk (who has the least issues). He's arrogant and could probably be best characterized as a bit of a lout. This isn't really the issue, though, given that he frequently gets his ass handed to him while other characters call him out on his bullshit. Rather, what's puzzling is that Captain Pike seems to exercise a great deal of favoritism towards Kirk (making him First Officer?!?) to the point where it strains credulity. Granted, Kirk has a lot of potential, but Pike's faith, without showing us more of their relationship, seems a bit unwarranted.

Another problematic character is Uhura. She differs strikingly from her TOS counterpart which isn't a bad thing necessarily except that she can be a bit…rude, for lack of her better word. Most irksome for me was her automatic presumption that Kirk would, of course, have no idea what xenolinguistics was which reminded me of every condescending jerk I've ever had to work with (especially given the tone she used in talking down to him).

Then there's Spock…and wow is his character a headache. Most importantly: what kind of instructor throws a student's dead father in his face like that? Sure, Kirk cheated, but good Lord was Spock's response harsh and, frankly, borderline unprofessional. Then there's the fact that Spock is being a massive hypocrite: he's dressing down Kirk for breaking the rules while he himself is dating a cadet — Uhura. And while it may not be against regulations to do so (the film only hints at it through Spock's concern of displaying favoritism), Spock nonetheless abused his position to keep Uhura off the Enterprise to protect their relationship, thus barring her from a job placement she'd earned. Given that these are our three main leads (Uhura largely replacing Mc Coy), it can be difficult to invest in them when they come across as needlessly petty or are handed positions without really achieving them. Granted, the characters do improve in the sequel, but I found that I had to start watching the original series before I came to care for the characters enough to bother.

Set Phasers to dumb

This movie was unabated disaster from the twisted visions of the terrible trio: J.J.Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. One of the worst visual experiences to have ever been witnessed, and a movie worthy of the mention of devil-man: Michael Bay.

No this movie displays a level of head-spinning nausea that even Michael Bay would be envious of. They use a lot of revolving camera shots which are so painfully close to many of the actors faces all the damn time. Heck there is even a hint of shaky cam to this loopy piece of film making. It absolutely floods the screen full of lighting and lens flare in particular. A lot of the intense scenes make some really annoying use of strobing too. All this combined with the fast-paced editing style makes it all feel far too jittery and manic.

The characters are usually far too serious but lacking in any real quirks other than their specific skill set. Case of point is Sulu, who is simply the designated Asian guy who knows some martial arts. Other than Simon Pegg, it doesn't feel like they tried to make their characters feel organic.

As for plot, well this was written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pair of Transformers fame. That's right, they let tweedle dee and tweedle dumb right the damn story for this movie. So it is a given that the jokes fall flat and some of the lines that are meant to be serious end up cause some eyes to roll. Like how Spock Prime must say some convoluted nonsense about destiny and friendship that it felt completely unnecessary and paneery. These numb-skulls apparently took the plot of Star Wars: A New Hope and shamelessly slapped it onto this movie and slashed it with the alot of the LAST movie; Star Trek Nemesis. Speaking of Nemesis; Nero was quite a poor villain for a Trek movie, as he lacked the sophistry and complexity of past Trek villains like the Borg Queen or Khan. He's just angry and hits things. You can see the semblance to Nemesis in that its bold pointy-eared fellas, who live in this massive life-cleasing ship which is pretty dark.

This movie is bad enough for actual fans of Star Trek but as a film that stands on its own, it totally topples into a heap of crumbling trash. How is it that this prequel can totally forget what The Original Series was even about? Exploring the vast recesses beyond all the known frontiers.

This is a review

I'm not a big Star Trek person.

I've seen episodes of the original series, sure. Mostly first season stuff, a bit from later on. Quite liked "City on the Edge of Forever" and "The Menagerie". "The Naked Time" is pretty funny. So there we go. Take away my nerd cards, I'm not a Trekkie.

But I can tell you for damn sure this movie made me want to be one.

Yes, yes, it rips off A New Hope in places, but not nearly as badly as people say it does. I think it's strength is the characters. Spock in particular was very well portrayed, and Quinto brought a real dignity to the role (not that Nimoy didn't, naturally. I'd say they're about on the same level.) Kirk is also well-done, he's very smug and confident almost but not quite to the point of jackassery, which is how I imagine someone as brilliant as Kirk would've been at that age with so few responsibilities. He doesn't get nearly as much depth as Spock does, though, and overall doesn't seem to struggle as much on an emotional level. Bones kind of gets shafted altogether, which is a shame because he's quite important to the interpersonal dynamics, but again I felt the actor did well with what he was given. Everyone else does sort of get shoved aside, but then Trek from what I've seen isn't as much as an ensemble show as it's made out to be. It was very much about the main three, with everyone else being around for plot reasons. (Maybe that changes in season two, I dunno.) Uhura's job, however, seems to require more qualifications than it did on the show which is a nice sign of how far we've come. The villain was a bit weak and generic, but again—this is very much Kirk and Spock's movie. What's important isn't the depth of the villain but how those two react to him.

None of the dialogue struck me as overly silly or unsubtle, which is more than I can say for "The Omega Glory", and I didn't find the lens flares to be that big of a problem. The movie's action moments were well-done and there was never a moment that failed to entertain or touch even a little.

I understand that the actual original series is very little like this movie, at least in terms of general tone. Still, it rekindled my long-dormant interest in these people and their world. That's got to count for something, even in the mind of the most angry Trek fan.

An exciting breakthrough in physics

I'm not really in a position to adequately review this film, I missed the first hour and I've never really followed the series and as a result I had no attachment and exactly zero willing suspension of disbelief. For me the film was a blur of characters I didn't know, stupid co-incidences, events that didn't really seem to follow each other, informed character changes, ridiculous themes, stock cliches, plot complaints and weird decisions. But I do believe that if I'd watched from the start, I'd have been more engaged and almost all of that would have sunk into the background, like how Batman leaving the Joker at the party didn't spoil the Dark Knight for me. I don't think it could have been an artistically great movie because the flaws existed, but I imagine it could easily have been fun and enjoyable.

  • Warning the next part of the review contains information so important it may change the way you think about life. Or to put it differently, SPOILERS Ahoy

However that's not the most important thing about this film. What's important about this film is it's affects on the way we view spacetime. As far as I can see the plot is that the villain has found some unobtanium so warped and twisted that it jerks and sways the -camera- constantly, twisting it's motion and shooting from so many ridiculous angles that the universe it self gets confused and tangled until the camera angles create a blackhole that will destroy us all.

Now that in itself would be amazing, but the scientific revelations don't stop there. The good guys are so good and their ship is so shiny that it creates constant lens flares across the camera, getting bigger and bigger ..even in places where there shouldn't be a light or lens... obscuring more and more of the screen with bright flashes until the lens flare itself forms a singularity which explodes destroying the black hole and catapulting the plot to safety

A Good Film to Bring in New Blood

I come from a long line of trekkie fans, but this is not a jaded review. In fact, I actually liked the movie. People complain that it's not intelligent, or it lacks any philosophical issues that come with the title of being 'Star Trek' and I say, who cares? This film was created to do one thing: restore the franchise. If you asked a child whether they want to watch a scene where there's huge spaceship battles, or watch an intense debate about the ramifications of mining foreign planets for resources at the expense of the natives, the answer is pretty obvious. This movie gets the job done with pulling in new fans into the franchise and I find it really sad that the hardcore fans are displeased about this because it's 'popular'.

The story is simple, but coherent. I can't tell how many times I pan a film for the overly-complicated storyline when they could simply cut it in half. Sometimes less means more. While I also disagree with some of the changes to the characterization, (Spock/Uhura? While he's a teacher and she's a student? Illogical.), Karl Urban's portrayal of Mc Coy brought tears to my eyes. This man was really channeling the character to its source in the TOS series. Chris Pine as Kirk is slowly becoming the Captain we all know and Zachary Quinto as Spock was simply amazing. We should give them time to grow into these characters, so what's the rush?

Aside from the crazy lens flares, the visual effects were stunning, updating the Enterprise from the clunky consoles of the 60's to the slick, almost Apple-like touchscreens which do pave way to a believable future. The Narada ship was not only a menacing character in itself, but an interesting take on retrofitted mining ships combined with Borg technology. (If you read the prequel comics of course.)

The movie was one heck of a ride and we should sit back and think that Star Trek is known more for it's sense of adventure than it's intellect. The TOS series had aesops to help the 60's move toward the future and now that this movie brought back the franchise, who's to say they can't do it again in the sequels thereafter? But when I see children screaming impatiently for a phaser over a lightsaber in a local toy store thanks to this movie, then it's obvious that the film did the job right. New blood means new fans—-and that means that Star Trek can live on to the next generation.

Old-Fashioned Zap-Gun Action in a Thin Star Trek Wrapper

When I first heard of this film, I thought I would become one of those nerdy fan-boys everyone seemed to hate in advance for the expected cries of They Changed It Now It Sucks. Watching the film for the first time initially confirmed this. Re-watching the film recently, however, made me appreciate it more for what it is. But what it is to me, is still not Star Trek.

The changes to the continuity were not what I minded. They added an interesting element to the plot, and I enjoyed the unexpected twists. What I disliked was the feel of the film. This movie is two things: First, a caricature (though an affectionate one) of Star Trek. Second, an old-fashioned sci-fi action flick that would do fine if set in a completely different universe.

What makes this film Star Trek? Is it that everyone gets to say their catch phrase? That we get to see a Red Shirt meet his fate? It feels like an Affectionate Parody; the first work the movie brings to mind is Galaxy Quest, not Star Trek. Take every Trek cliché, turn it Up To Eleven, make it shiny and modern, and you've got all that connects this film to the franchise. But somehow, this isn't enough. The substance of Trek should be thoughtful science fiction with social commentary, moral dilemmas, and a well-paced plot. And the universe dreamed up by Gene Roddenberry, with all his now-outmoded ideals.

But the substance of this film is, for the most part, a bunch of shiny good guys (not girls — the old Trek dedication to egalitarianism was, presumably, too stuffy) flying around on a shiny rocket ship with their shiny ray-guns, zapping the bad dudes and saving the day.

This made me feel like the film's creators Completely Missed The Point. They decided Trek was just the archetypal Space Opera, and as long as they had a space-ship, ray guns, and threw in some catch-phrases and Continuity Nods, they'd have created an updated Trek with universal appeal.

And they did create something with universal appeal. It's a fun film. Taken for what it is, and judged exclusively by Rule Of Cool and Rule Of Fun, it's entirely enjoyable. But for someone who wanted a continuation of the Star Trek franchise that stayed loyal to its spirit, the film was a disappointment.

The Most Elaborate Fan Fiction Ever Made

I'll get my nerd rage out of the way immediately, the warp nacelles of the Enterprise look like exhaust pipes. There, done.

I enjoyed watching this movie thoroughly, it was funny, action packed, spectacular and in many ways feels like The Movie that we never truly got, from the Catch Phrases down to the theme music. Every performance is solid, each is utilized in a distillation of their original role. The special effects are fantastic (The classic Enterprise has never looked so lush and majestic). But one thing was nagging at me, it feels the movie was made by fans who wanted to play with their favorite show. It's like saying that the Star Trek Universe isn't big enough to have someone other than Kirk as captain.

They took the basic character archetypes, cast new actors and wrote a story they think will be fun. Case in point, they took a skill Sulu manifested in one episode (fencing) and turned it into his major role in their story. That is a fan fiction staple.

Bruce Greenwood to me gave the best performance as an easily respectable authority figure, but there is nothing identical between his Captain Pike and that of Jeffery Hunter's, it is just a name. Chris Pine carries his James T. Kirk with confidence but has little resemblance to Shatner's Kirk. The only actors to truly embody their characters are Karl Urban and Simon Pegg (The accents help a lot, but it is also their mannerisms). Watching them channel the spirit of their predecessors is the closest the movie comes to replicating the series.

But that brings me to one last point, Star Trek has always been a commentary on social issues and moral dilemmas, even in the worse films they bring up points that should spark discussion. Unless you dig really deep, this movie is only about the gimmick of revisiting the original series.

One thing stands out, though, and it overrides almost any criticism I may have. These people really cared about this movie. They put genuine love into it and it shows with almost every scene (it helps the studio gave such unprecedented support). They made a movie they hoped people will love and they largely succeeded. When Spock narrates the classic “Final Frontier” speech, I found myself genuinely wanting to see where they take it. That is the best compliment I can give anything.

A very good action film but a not-so-good Trek film

What makes a great Trek film? I own the first ten, and the winning formula seems to be:

1. An awesome villain

2. An intelligent, engaging plot

3. Even handling of the characters

4. Memorable one-liners

Kudos to Mister Cloverfield for resurrecting a franchise that was killed off at the start of the millennium. Let's run through the checklist:

1. Nero is one of the best Trek villains of all time, ranking alongside Khan and the Borg Queen in attractiveness and sheer nastiness. He's an Ax Crazy, hammy, Woobie Destroyer Of Worlds. What more can I say?

2. The plot of J.J. Trek is ambitious, to say the least. Any real examination of the characters' youths is tainted by the plot twist, but we still get a satisfying peek at the origins of Kirk and Spock. The first act is paced nicely, but the second gets bogged down in rampant Scenery Porn and character introductions. The third act feels like an instalment of Star Wars, with lots of shooting and Enterprise money shots taking the place of actual character development or plot resolution. Warp speed looks like hyperspeed, and the phasers even go "pew-pew" like Han Solo's blaster. Let's not discuss the Spock/Uhura relationship, which explodes into the plot like Nero's ship, with no explanation.

3. An all-new cast nails the characters perfectly, with the notable exception of Kirk. Afraid of doing a bad Shatner impression, Chris Pine goes too far the other way, creating a Tall Dark And Snarky Jerk Ass Kirk that I didn't recognize. The aforementioned Spuhura romance is jarring, Scotty is forced to be funny and Chekov feels a bit like The Wesley, but I suppose that's nitpicking.

4. And how.

So what's to dislike about this movie? It was thrilling, it was suspenseful, it was emotional. I loved every minute of it (except perhaps the blatant Fanservice bedroom scene). But it wasn't Star Trek. Typical Trek climaxes involve modifying a torpedo, or taking advantage of the surroundings or out-and-out Technobabble. The new crewmembers just... shoot things. As an action film, I give it 5/5 stars. As a Trek film: 3/5.