Star Trek review: Newbie vs. Purist
Mary: The Newbie
I’m a newbie when it comes to Star Trek (for the most part). I’ve seen Trouble with Tribbles – the episode with the fuzzy ball-like creatures that procreate rapidly, and I saw Wrath of Kahn so long ago that the only part I recall is the worm-ear thing. Must have been an effective scene. So when I saw J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, I’d say my mind was pretty open, a blank slate.
Steven: The Purist
Star Trek. My favorite television show! I have to admit that I went into my first viewing of Star Trek with a mixture of emotions, excitement about a new movie with some fear and worry about how things could have been screwed up. Would the characters act like the characters I know? Would the history of Star Trek be completely changed from what I know? Needless to say, all this tainted my first viewing of the movie and I left the theater not really sure how I felt about the film. I thought about it for a while, discussed it with Mary and went for a second viewing. After the second time, I have decided that it is a great addition to the Star Trek Universe. Why? It is a great story that creates an alternate reality that allows for new adventures of classic characters without contradicting anything of the previous series or movies.
As a fan, I was kept happy by the inside jokes such as hearing Scotty telling Kirk, “I’m given ya all she’s got!” and McCoy’s “My God, man! I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” Another nod to fans was when the away team was space jumping to the drilling platform, one member was wearing red and, sure enough, he was the one that was killed. (In case you are unaware of the red shirt joke, crew members wearing red shirts were usually the first ones to die.) You never wanted to wear a red shirt on Star Trek. Only Uhura and Scotty could wear red and not be killed. I also enjoyed hearing sound effects from the The Original Series (TOS) as they helped to tie it all together with other Star Trek episodes/movies.
The Big Picture (Mary, Newbie):
Great, great, great! Special effects were amazing, of course, and the young actors were surprisingly good. I enjoyed Zachary Quinto’s Spock the best, bottling those emotions admirably, and letting them fly equally as admirably. There was more humor than I expected, which sometimes can be a risk in a movie such as this, but I feel it only added to the big picture. Of course, I had no idea which were inside jokes, and which was brand new. For example, when Kirk asks Sulu what his hand to hand combat training was (as they are about to be ejected onto a tiny platform suspended miles above the Vulcan surface), Sulu responds, “fencing”. A mildly funny line to me, but according to my fellow movie audience, this line had much more hilarity attached than a newbie like me would have grasped. Other examples were McCoy’s ‘My God man!” utterances that Steven referenced earlier. The physicist one in particular startled me when I was thinking, ‘good point’, while my fellow movie audience broke into raucous guffawing. Either way, it worked.
The Nitpicks (Steven, Purist):
Ok, time to nitpick and surprisingly, there was little to nitpick about. My biggest nitpick is the Spock/Uhura relationship. I’m not objecting to the relationship, but the public display of affection when Spock kissed Uhura on the transporter pad. It was so out of character for Spock. My next nitpick is one that I like, but also dislike. It is how the Engine Room on the Enterprise actually looked like an Engine Room. You could see the systems that comprised the Enterprise. The dislike I have with it is that Scotty sometimes seemed to be working in a factory or warehouse rather than the Engine Room. And where was the Warp Core!?! Another one of my nitpicks is how out of proportion the internal areas of the ship seemed to the exterior. Now, I know the Enterprise is a big ship, but it’s not that big. When Kirk and Scotty are running through the Engine Room to avoid security, the room they are in was cavernous and seemed to expand in all directions without end. Also inconsistent with the size of the ships was the number of crew on the U.S.S. Kelvin. Captain Pike tells Kirk that his father saved 800 lives by sacrificing himself and the ship. How could Kelvin have had 800 crew members when on TOS, the Enterprise had a crew of 400? Okay, that does it for the nitpicking. Very little when you consider all the series and movies that have come before this movie.
The Time line (Newbie):
According to my guest writer and Star Trek expert, Spock’s mother did NOT die this way in the original series. Of course, I didn’t know this until after the movie. By this time, I’ve realized what absolute geniuses these writers are. First of all, imagine the pressure they must have been under! Steven was so excited about this movie; anticipated it with the kind of hunger that you’d expect me to have about a LOST episode. He watched the trailer ten times… maybe fifteen. And I’m sure there were lots of fans like Steven who couldn’t wait, but also couldn’t help feeling the trepidation that J.J. Abrams would disappoint them somehow. Abrams had a huge undertaking, the potential to massively disappoint this audience. The solution was logical, as Spock would say. Create an alternate reality, another time line! Now the writers can do whatever they want to, and all the while protecting the original series and all the tiny story details that went along with it. This way they can kill Spock’s mother (not to mention destroy his entire planet) in this new reboot without making inadvertant mistakes they would be bound to make and the Purists would be bound to notice. Now the plots in the subsequent movies will be surprises to everyone, and not just rehashes of an old show. The fans can rest easy because the Shatner Kirk and the Nimoy Spock are still hanging out in their own time line.
The characters (Purist):
The characters were all true to form: Kirk changing the rules to save the day. Spock keeping his emotions under control until something would break his discipline (i.e. – the loss of his mother and planet.) McCoy calling Spock a “green-blooded hob goblin.” (Though, I wish McCoy had said “green-blooded Vulcan” instead.) Scotty performing engineering miracles that keeps the ship intact. Uhura being a communications and linguistics expert. Sulu expertly piloting the Enterprise to safety and using his “fencing” skills in combat. Chekov navigating the Enterprise and providing some comic relief every once in a while.
Kirk – “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.”
Spock – “Fascinating” & “Live long and Prosper.”
McCoy – “My God, man! I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” & “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?”
Scotty – “I’m given ya all she’s got, Captain!”
While all the characters were played admirably, Zachary Quito’s portrayal of Spock was very accurate and by far the best! I noticed it most when the ship is preparing to leave the spacedock, Spock is on a lower level making sure things are prepared, he signs a pad and hands it to a crew member in a way that was very similar to how Leonard Nimoy did when he played Spock on the TOS. There were times when I thought I was watching a young Leonard Nimoy as Spock. I don’t think a better person could have been cast to play Spock.
The Ship (Mary):
I couldn’t help but have a tiny thrill when the U.S.S. Enterprise first came into view on the screen. I even peeked at Steven to see how he was taking it (he looked nervous). The Captain’s chair was pretty cool – still looked boxy and retro, I imagine it was a pretty close match to the original. The lighting on the ship was different – it made the Enterprise look all shiny and new and gleaming on its maiden voyage.
The Ship (Steven):
The Enterprise. Part of my enjoyment of Star Trek stems from the ships and I can’t say whether I liked or disliked the new Enterprise. It didn’t have the sleekness I’ve seen in other designs of the Enterprise, yet it was a good looking ship. The interior sets, especially the bridge, looked amazing. One can almost feel like the ship actually exists and isn’t simply a set on a soundstage. I can only imagine if this is what Gene Roddenberry would have come up with had he had access to today’s special effects technology.
The Music (Mary):
For some reason, in the opening sequence, when Kirk’s father is saving the USS Kelvin, by sacrificing himself, I inexplicably got a mental image of a straggled bunch of plane crash survivors making a trek down a beach. I realized the original music was by Michael Giacchino, also of LOST. No wonder. So, with the warning that my music review might be biased, I’ll just say: very cool music. The Romulan’s theme was super – it made the giant scary ship even scarier.
As for the final credits’ music:
Mary: “What is this? Sounds like some crappy 60s elevator music!”
Steven: “This is the original music from the original series.”
Mary: “Oh. [silence] I love it!”
So what about the sequels?
The reboot worked for me; my thrusters are on full. A newbie turned Star Trek fan. I’m ready to enlist in Star Fleet to see where the Enterprise will boldly go next. And I bet next time Steven won’t even have to drag me to the theater.