The AMC Theater at Lynnhaven Mall in Va. Beach has a new IMAX theater, so last night I loaned some of my Starfleet uniform collection to Starr and our friend Becca, and we went to see the new Star Trek movie there. I have to say, I came out of that film extremely pleased. Oh, I have a dozen tiny nitpicks, and the film wasn’t exactly as deep as some of the previous outings in the series, but when the closing credits rolled, I didn’t care about that at all.
The 10:15 showing we attended sold out of the $15 tickets, and we barely got decent seats showing up twenty minutes early. (I’d bought our tickets online the night before.) I only saw one other person in costume, a local TCC Astronomy professor in a TOS Sciences t-shirt; but we hit the mall and a restaurant before the movie, and got plenty of Vulcan salutes, shouted compliments, and picture requests. I can easily remember when wearing the uniform in public meant taking crap from random passersby. Times have changed! We didn’t get home until 1am, and Starr had a 5:30 wakeup call for work, but she insisted that didn’t matter: we had a movie to watch!
The movie did an excellent job with the casting and the character writing. No character was exactly the same person they were in classic, but everyone ‘felt’ right; you could easily accept New Kirk as the same person having grown up in different circumstances. Nero, however, made for a boring villain. His character wasn’t developed, his motivations were never made sympathetic, and he was basically uninteresting. (He intended to use a superweapon to destroy every Federation member world because Starfleet wasn’t able to save his planet from a natural disaster. Overreact much?) The best performance, for me, was Karl Urban’s McCoy: while, again, not a carbon copy of Kelley’s character, every line he uttered sounded exactly right.
Also, this movie takes pains to not be the Kirk Show, or even the Kirk and Spock Show. While those two are clearly the main characters, every other bridge crewperson gets at least one scene to be awesome – even the overeager 17-year-old Chekov. And though it’s almost a throwaway reference, for a short period it’s made clear that Uhura has the con – only took 40-some years, too! (Her first name is finally uttered on screen, too. And the reason it’s spoken will make some fans froth at the mouth, but made me want to cheer.)
The script takes excruciating pains to explain how this fits into established canon, in fact marking some major historical points in it. I’ll be interested to see if Expanded Universe material takes notice of these points, or glosses over them.
Some of my nitpicks: I don’t like the new Enterprise very much. The bridge is smaller than ever, the viewscreen is a giant bay window on the bridge with computer enhancement, and the Engineering decks were almost certainly shot cheaply in a California hydroelectric plant. The warp nacelles and secondary hull look awfully goofy in the miniature, too. A major Federation member world is destroyed, which feels really damn strange to me, as if dozens of Trek Classic plotlines cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Early in the movie, Kirk holds his own against four human brawlers at once, but later can’t handle a single Romulan. The tiny Federation outpost on planet Delta Vega is referenced (yay), but from there planet Vulcan shows a large, easily-visible disc in the sky (boo). There are others, but the movie is so well-done otherwise that I found myself not caring very much.
So, in summation: if you are a Trek fan, make a special effort to see this (but you were going to anyway, right?) If you’re not a fan, give it a try anyway – you might have a pretty good time!