I was expecting to have more of a reaction to it. Like, to either like it more, or hate it more. My lack of reaction is probably due to the fact that I’ve been reading spoilers for a couple of days now -- something I normally would never, ever do. Normally, I avoid spoilers like the plague. But this time... I figured I’d be better off preparing myself beforehand for just how much I was going to hate this movie. And it seems to have worked, because I didn’t hate it. But I definitely didn't love it, either.
I figure it was pretty much inevitable that, sooner or later, somebody was going to decide to hijack TOS and remake it. And as plot devices go, the alternate-universe time-travel business they came up with for this movie was actually pretty ingenious. If it had to be done -- and I suppose it did have to be done -- then I can’t think of a better way they could have done it. So, all right. Props for that.
However, I've got to say... I don’t really see what the problem is. Vulcan is destroyed? Big deal. Future!Spock certainly knows how to fix this, even if the kiddies don’t. Just take a quick loop around the sun -- I mean a really quick loop, like warp ten -- and bingo, you’re right back in the middle of last week. And since now you know how to kick some Romulan ass, you can intercept the villains before they even get to Vulcan, prevent Pike from being abducted in the first place, and maybe even pick up some whales on the way home.
Come on, kid!Kirk. Kirk Prime did it in a fucking Klingon Bird of Prey! If you can’t do that shit even with the Enterprise at your command, you are not Kirk, boy.
But anyway. I actually thought the kid who played Kirk did a decent job, and looked more like Kirk than any of the other actors looked like the characters they were supposed to be playing. He was a bit too much of an arrogant asshole, even for Kirk, but I guess we can chalk that up to his having been raised without a father. Most of his lines sounded appropriately Kirk-esque, although there were a few modernisms in his speech that jarred me a bit. (He shouldn’t sound like it's the sixties, no, but he shouldn’t sound like it's 2009, either. Eh.)
I wasn't much into his flippant attitude about the Kobayashi Maru. Kirk cheats all the time, but not like that. His cheating is, in itself, impressive and praiseworthy, not just obnoxious. Him sitting there nonchalantly munching an apple while his problems resolve themselves... didn't fit.
Spock was... I don’t know. I think he really did try, and he wasn’t bad, but he just wasn’t Spock, either. He was, I will grant, more like Spock than most of the other Vulcans they’ve had in the episodes and movies over the years, and I do give him credit. In most cases, it wasn’t even his acting, but the script that screwed up his Spock-ness. And also his voice. He so does not even come close to having Spock’s voice. But, I mean, how can I blame him for that? Nobody has Spock’s voice. Even Spock Prime doesn’t have Spock’s voice anymore. *sigh*
But toward the end, Kirk and Spock had a few moments that did sort of feel like Kirk-Spock moments. Spock’s expression when Kirk slapped him on the shoulder was perfect. And when Spock called Kirk "Jim" for the first time, in that little shuttlecraft-type thing, I almost believed it.
They were... closer than I’d expected, I guess. Just not close enough.
The consensus online seems to be that Karl Urban made a great McCoy. Personally, I can’t see him as McCoy at all. The scripting for him was fine, if a little over-the-top -- he did all the things McCoy does, but rather more forcefully and bitterly than the *cough* real McCoy. It’s really not Urban’s fault; he played the part just fine. He just looks nothing like McCoy, and every time he was onscreen I was like, wait, who is he supposed to be again? Scotty? (And why was he working on the bridge all the time, anyway?)
Speaking of Scotty, wow, that was SO NOT SCOTTY, it is not even funny. He was not even an alternate-universe!Scotty in any conceivable way. He has a Scottish accent and is an engineer, and there the similarities end. I don’t entirely blame the actor, since the script was really the problem there, but I don’t feel like the actor made much of an effort to overcome the faults of the script, either. :P
And Uhura was also not Uhura in any conceivable way. At all. I never even bothered to remember that she was supposed to be Uhura, because it seemed so irrelevant. She has zero personality in common with Uhura. I didn’t hate her like a lot of people do, but that’s only because I just thought of her as a totally new character. I don’t know, maybe she’s Uhura’s sister or something...?
Also, Uhura/Spock. Hm. I was prepared for it, and although I disliked it, I didn’t hate it as much as I was expecting to, probably because the chick was SO ABSOLUTELY NOT UHURA. And Spock hooking up with random chicks has actually never bothered me too much (though I suspect that was usually because his ability to fall in love was the side-effect of some evil alien plot, to be resolved by the end of the episode...).
But anyway, WTF -- shouldn’t kid!Spock still be betrothed, or whatever, to T’Pring? Did the Romulans somehow fuck that up, too? And what is with everyone’s obsession with re-imagining Vulcans so that they’re actually a deeply emotional people who just don’t talk about it? Yes, they have the capacity for emotions, we get that. Do we need to be beaten over the head with it all the damn time? ‘Cause it kind of undermines the whole Spock-is-half-human thing, when all the other Vulcans are secretly just as human as he is.
For example, those kids making fun of him. I don’t see any logic in insulting the ambassador’s son. Spock was a lot more serene and rational than those Vulcan kids, it appeared to me (until he randomly and rather inexplicably blew up). Which is what seems to happen even in the original movies, too -- Spock is always more Vulcan than the other Vulcans! It is kind of starting to annoy me.
Also, while I’m talking about Vulcans: man, Spock’s dad made me so sad by not being Spock’s dad. Like, he didn’t do anything wrong. His acting was fine. The scripting was okay, although I do think that even in light of the events of the movie, he was rather too kind for Sarek. Sarek is a proper Vulcan, and always wanted his son to be a proper Vulcan, too -- and I really don’t think the fact that his planet got destroyed would make him any less proud of his Vulcan culture, or any less determined to hold to its traditions.
Mainly, though, it’s just that the guy was not Mark Lenard, and he was just. Not. Sarek. Which depressed me because I really do love Sarek, even though he's only a minor character and I probably shouldn't care.
(As an aside, I'm also not fond of the way they’re doing Vulcan ears now. I actually think they looked better the way they did them on TOS. Now they’re all... thick and fleshy and excessively veiny. :/ I don’t know, they look kind of swollen and bulbous to me. TOS!Vulcans had really pretty ears. Meh.)
Sulu. Well, he hardly got any screen time, but that’s usual for Sulu anyway. He was okay. There was one moment when he dropped his voice low, I don’t remember what he was saying -- probably something like, “Course laid in, sir,” or “Warp four, sir,” or something -- and he actually did sound like Sulu, and that was neat.
WTF is up with FENCING OF THE FUTURE, though? Okay, Sulu is obsessed with old-fashioned swordfighting, that’s consistent with his character; but why did the other dude just happen to have a battle-axe on hand? WHY DOES NOBODY ACTUALLY USE HAND-PHASERS IN THIS MOVIE?
Ahem. Chekov was also okay. He looked nothing like Chekov, but he was eager and excitable in a way that made sense for a seventeen-year-old Chekov. Not as sarcastic or exasperatedly-talking-to-himself as he should have been, except for that one tiny moment when he was left in command, but overall he did a good job.
Oh, and Pike. I thought it was really neat that they included Pike, but really weird that he bore no resemblance to the original Pike at all -- wasn't even the right age, had no physical characteristics in common... weird. I also can't figure out why the Romulans bothered to abduct him, since they seemed perfectly capable of destroying Earth without his help, and it didn't even seem like they bothered to torture him all that much. Obviously just a plot device to get Kirk in the captain's chair. Eh.
Anyway. I should probably get around to actually commenting on the plot of the movie here, and not just nitpick about how Sarek was not Mark Lenard and Spock's ears weren't pretty. Only... I don't know. It just doesn't really seem to matter.
The graphics were awesome. Lots of explosions, but nothing gratuitous. The script was well-written. All around, the thing was thoroughly entertaining. The plot was okay, although I’m dubious about the whole Romulan mining-vessel thing, and Captain Nero was way over the top. I am also annoyed that the Romulans had to look so evil. Like a bunch of goth motorcycle gangsters with facial tattoos. That felt rather cliché to me, and the whole vendetta that's like, “In the future this one dude will inadvertently fail to rescue my planet from a natural disaster, therefore I intend to brutally murder every civilization that bears any connection to him” is just... man, even the TOS villains weren’t that fucking crazy. The mental patients in TOS weren't that crazy. Sheez.
Also I’m not sure why Romulan mining vessels are, like, the size of a small moon, produce lightning storms in space, and are shaped like THE IRON TALONS OF PURE EVIL. Or, for that matter, why they happened to have lots of spare Instant Black Hole formula lying around. That doesn’t sound like something you’d need for mining. But whatever. Fine.
That’s not the point. The point is that, as ADVENTURES IN SPACE go, this one was pretty good. Better than most of the previous movies, I'd even say. Good script, fantastic graphics, great costuming, great sets. Decent plot, even. But the thing is, I don’t care about adventures in space. If I did, I’d be just as happy to go watch some other space show. I only care about Star Trek because of the characters, and since these guys are neither new characters whom I can learn to love, nor old characters whom I already love... I can’t really do anything with them. They’re not Kirk and Spock and McCoy, but they’re also not anyone else.
And for that reason, I kind of just don’t see the point.
I haven’t said anything yet about Spock Prime. I’m rather amazed at how he doesn’t look much older now than he did twenty years ago. I guess he got all his aging out of the way back in the eighties. Anyway, it was really nice to see him, and his scenes with kid!Kirk were rather nice, and made it feel a bit like it really was Star Trek after all. Some of the scripting for him felt a little off to me -- but then, he’s like eighty years older than he was in The Undiscovered Country, so I guess he would have changed a bit. (But I still don’t see why he’d rather set up new Vulcan colonies than just do some more time traveling. If it’s okay to go back in time just to save the damn whales, I think it’s okay to save Vulcan that way. But whatever.)
Even in spite of his advice to “do what feels right,” though, Spock Prime still acted more Vulcan than kid!Spock. He was still more calm and logical and objective than kid!Spock. Which is kind of inconsistent, but, again, whatever.
I think that’s pretty much all I have to say. At bottom, I guess I don’t really dislike the movie so much as the fact of the movie -- the inevitability of its taking over and replacing TOS as canon, and just... throwing everything that went before out the window. If it had to happen, I guess this is the best way for it to happen. I can see what they’re trying to do, and why they’re doing it. It’s fine. I just don’t really want anything to do with it.
Unless they make a trilogy and at the end of the third movie, they finally go back in time and set things right, so that Spock Prime can go back to being the real and only Spock again, and Vulcan can not get blown up. I would give them 100% credit and lots of applause, and even cheerfully accept their movies as canon, if they’d do that. But I’m not counting on it.
I'm a traditionalist. What can I say.
ETA: One more thing. Am I the only one who's annoyed by the way non-humanoid aliens are treated in movies? In this case, I'm talking about the little alien dude from McCoy's outpost, whose sole purpose seemed to be comic relief; he just got in the way, and Kirk had to pick him up like a little kid at one point. Yeah, he's small and cute and doesn't speak English, but if he works here, he's probably an intelligent being with some sense of dignity. ONLY HE ISN'T. Because that wouldn't be funny. :/ Look, people, don't go trying to make points about prejudice and equality if you're going to also be all LOL SMALL ALIENS THEY ARE HILARIOUS.
ETA #2: Okay, make that two more things, because I can't believe I omitted to say this before. The absolute worst thing, I think, about the entire movie, is the way Kirk blows up the Romulan ship at the end. Yes, he does offer to beam the Romulans aboard first, and that was in keeping with Kirk as we know him. But when the Romulans refuse to come aboard, he seems delighted that he now gets to kill them, and his whole attitude about firing all phasers and blowing the hell out of the Romulan vessel is just... so, so wrong. Mercy is one of the most fundamental themes of the Star Trek series, and while I can see why the ship had to be destroyed, and can certainly understand why it would be impossible for Kirk to feel any sympathy or even good-will toward the Romulans, there's no call for his simply being a guns-blazing video-game-space-war-commander asshole. The Kirk we know would gladly give his life to prove that Starfleet is just, honorable, and devoted to making peace. This Kirk seems to be raring for war.
(Speaking of that last scene, I also was not amused by Spock's, "Not really, no. Not this time." Don't get me wrong, it was certainly in character for him to slip there, and not want to extend mercy to the guys who just blew up his entire planet. If anything, his reaction should have been stronger. TOS!Spock would have been tight-lipped and suppressing a very dangerous rage, and if he turned Kirk aside to ask him what he was doing, it would be with tangible restraint and, probably, murder in his eyes. But the line they gave Spock in this movie was supposed to be funny. You're supposed to laugh at his little human slip-up and how amusingly illogical it is. Guys, his planet is gone. It's not funny. Don't give him comic relief lines. Just. Do not.)
ETA #3: THIS. <-- (You probably won't want to read this if you liked the movie.)