Rating: 4 of 5
I saw Star Trek this weekend. Loved it. I actually haven’t liked a movie that much in a long time. I just walked out of it feeling happy and whole and refreshed. Probably didn’t hurt that I cried 3 times during it.
Back before anyone had seen the movie I found this article in the Hollywood Reporter. It was all about the risk of reimagining the Star Trek universe to draw in new fans without alienating the old ones and how to do you take that risk, but hold the balance. It’s interesting and the author knows enough of his trekverse to allude properly (i.e. “but reaching blockbuster status is a challenge only slightly less daunting than the koyayasi maru scenario”). But there’s something they still don’t get. There’s a quote at the end:
[Richard Arnold, former assistant to Roddenberry] who visited the set last year with Roddenberry’s widow, sees a lot of the creator in Abrams. “Here’s what Gene said in an interview just before he died in August 1991,” he says. “Somebody had asked him, ‘What’s going to become of ‘Star Trek’ in the future?’ and he said that he hoped that some day some bright young thing would come along and do it again, bigger and better than he had ever done it. And he wished them well.”
They should have put that quote in front of the first trailer they released. Sure, it’s unorthodox, but you do it anyway. You put it on the website. You show people that in a way J.J. is doing this with Roddenberry’s blessing and you eliminate the argument altogether. We’ll still talk endlessly whether Abrams actually did it bigger and better, but they won’t fight against it.
And for my two cents, Abrams and Roberto Oci and Alex Kurtzman did it exactly as it should have been done and it was bigger and better.
If you’re going to reboot a franchise, that’s the way to do it. With respect and honor and being willing to reinvent rather than try to recreate. Even better, Star Trek is a good film in it’s own right. It’s emotional and funny and full of action and all new running jokes.
Every role was so fantastically cast, except for Winona Rider. But they should have known that before they cast her. She’s far too young to play anyone’s mother and she doesn’t have the gravitas to be Spock’s mother. But that was their only bad call. Chris Pine is a daring, dashing, cavalier Kirk. Zachary Quinto is an impassioned and restrained Spock. Scottie was hilarious, Sulu and Chekov and Uhura had smaller parts to play but they all played them well enough that you knew them and cared about them. And Paul McGillion was in it! I didn’t realize until he turned to camera and was about to exit and I was like, “was that…?” It was!
Plus, Bruce Greenwood was an amazing Captain Pike. Getting to see him was just one of the great threads from the original series that they wove into this new story.
George Kirk was brilliant. In such a small space he was heroic and endearing and I loved him.
I loved that they created an alternate reality because it’s so plausible and gives them such freedom to continue to create new stories without harming or conflicting with anything that’s been done before. I liked that there was no moment where they tried to undo the damage this new reality had created. Vulcan was destroyed and there’s no going back now.
At times it was a little silly, like with the swollen hands and Scottie in the water tube. But other times it was just really funny, a surprisingly good blend of the serious and dramatic with the funny.
The thing that made it so wonderful was that it was an action movie with heart. I saw Wolverine last weekend and it was fun and big and loud and the things you expect a summer movie to be. But the characters weren’t as solid and there was so much less emotional investment. Action movies are at their best when they have significance, not because of how big their task is, but because of how much their characters matter.