Live long and be awesome

startrekI know I’m late to the party, but I saw Star Trek this weekend, and boy, holy shit, it was awesome.

[this may contain spoilers]

Let me clarify before I go on, I am in no way, shape or form a “Trekkie.” I’m not even particularly a fan. Truth? I’ve never even seen a complete episode of the original series. Most of what I know about it comes from references to it in other TV shows and movies. I’ve seen a couple episodes of Next Generation, but not any of the other spin-offs. As for the movies, I’ve seen all but I think two of them, but only a few really stand out as memorable for me, Wrath of Khan, the one where we get the joy of seeing Shatner die twice and whichever one had the Borg in it (from my limited watching experience I’ve determined that the Borg are the coolest aliens in the Trek canon). Before I realized that the two can peacefully co-exist within the same universe, I aligned myself fully with the ‘Star Wars is better than Star Trek‘ side, unwilling to budge.

When I heard there was a new Star Trek movie coming out, my reaction could be summed up as thus: “Meh.” Then I saw some of the trailers and I thought, “Eh, I guess that looks all right, but I’m not enough of a Trek fan to care.” Then the very good reviews started rolling in and I thought to myself, “Self, maybe it might be worth seeing, just for fun, but nah, there are already enough big, dumb movies coming out that you want to see.” What finally compelled me to see it was hearing how good it was from people whose opinions I generally trust on such matters, and not all of them are dedicated Trek fans either. So, what the hell, why not, I decided to go see it.

Well, I enjoyed myself terribly. Apparently I’m the perfect audience for new and improved Star Trek 2.0, as I get the references but I’m not a serious enough fan to pick it apart and find the inconsistencies. Also, I’m not enough of a physics nerd (or a physics nerd at all, really) to gripe about the continuity errors in the time travel subplot and how they transport and go in and out of warp speed. I know not or care about that shit, I just care that it looks cool, and it does, it really, really does. A fight scene with Kirk and Sulu against Romulans on top of a mining drill was classic edge of your seat exciting. The acting was solid all around without going over the top, the laughs were plentiful but not at the expense of making the whole thing look silly, and stuff blowed up real good.

It’s doubtful that I really need to go into a description of the plot at this point, as either this is the thirtieth or so review you’ve read or you’ve already seen the movie itself.  Long story short: it’s Jim Henson’s <i>Star Trek</i> Babies, an origins story of sorts describing how the Enterprise crew came together in the early years, first at Starfleet Academy, then on their first official mission as a team fighting Nero (Eric Bana, still strangely kind of hot even under the Maori skinhead makeup), a Romulan bent on a complicated mission to make Spock suffer for being responsible for an incident that hasn’t happened yet.  Not surprisingly, much of the action centers on brash, rebellious Kirk constantly knocking heads with icy calm, by the books Spock, who is largely unimpressed with Kirk’s antics.  Sparks fly often between them, and I can almost hear the slashfic being written from here.

Interestingly, though his performance was still good, Chris Pine as young Kirk was the only actor who didn’t seem to be genuinely trying to play a younger version of a well-established character. As opposed to Karl Urban as McCoy and Anton Yelchin as Chekhov, I saw little in his performance that made me believe his character would eventually become William Shatner. This is probably a good thing, mind you. It’s also a good thing that Simon Pegg was only in the second half of the movie, because anything more and he would have walked away with the entire thing. And, ladies (and some gents), how about that Zachary Quinto as Spock, huh? He’s pretty dreamy for being an alien, overly controlled emotions and bad haircut aside.

That being said, I did have a little trouble buying the Spock-Uhura romance, and since I’m pretty sure there was no evidence later that they’d ever had any kind of relationship other than shipmates, I’m curious as to how it’s going to play out in subsequent sequels. It seemed to be used mainly to tip a wink at the audience, most of whom were sure that at some point it was Kirk who opened her pod bay doors, if you get my drift (yes, I realize I’m mixing sci-fi references, I don’t care). At no fault of the actors, it just didn’t seem very convincing, and it was a bit disappointing to see Uhura, usually a strong female character, temporarily reduced to doing the whole tearful “be careful, my big strong boyfriend” bit. But it’s a relatively minor complaint that’s made up for by the movie as a whole.

So don’t be nervous about being caught up in the nerd herd.  We don’t bite much.  See Star Trek, understand that it’s mostly a setup for countless sequels, hopefully none of which will involve the characters having to look for a whale, and have a good time.

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