Saw the Star Trek movie with the family on Saturday. It was exciting, full of good humor, fast paced, with magnificent and imaginative cgi shots. The acting was competent. Karl Urban gives an eerily on target portrayal of McCoy and somewhere Jackson DeForest Kelley should be smiling. Anyone who enjoys a good action movie should rush out to see it. The actors and actresses involved in this film have grabbed the golden ring and will probably be able to go on making these films until they are as old as the surviving actors and actresses of Classic Trek are today. The film was largely family friendly. Some relatively minor swearing, one reference to Kirk having carnal relations with animals, said as a put down by Uhura to Kirk during an unsuccessful pick up attempt by him, and a scene of Kirk in a bed with a female cadet, an Orion non-slave girl, with both of them in their undies, which is played strictly for laughs and is not salacious. So, all in all, we felt that we got a good return on our entertainment dollars. Only one small problem. It isn’t Star Trek.
I know, I know, I’m sounding just like one of the Star Trek geeks in the Onion video, but the point is true nonetheless. What this movie does is to reboot the Star Trek franchise.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!!
The creators of this film obviously wish to begin Star Trek afresh, and thus there are elements in it which are in contradiction to what was previously known in the Trek Universe. Here are some of the major changes:
1. The past histories of most of the major original series Trek characters are thrown in the waste paper basket. The creators of the film wanted all the major characters to come be present on the Enterprise with Kirk immediately upon his graduation from Starfleet Academy, and by the end of the film they are all on the ship.
2. Kirk in this film goes from cadet to Captain in one jump, thus eliminating all of his pre-Captain career that we know about from references in the original episodes of the series.
3. Vulcan is destroyed in the film, and the Vulcans are reduced to an “endangered species” of 10,000.
4. Spock throughout the film simply doesn’t act like a Vulcan but rather like a human with pointy ears. He even appears to be beginning a romance with Uhura . In one hilarious scene, Uhura is kissing Spock before he and Kirk go off on a dangerous mission as Kirk looks on wryly, thus engaging in a role reversal from the original series where Spock would view with bemusement the involvement of Kirk with various women. Kirk in the movie is romantically interested in Uhura, although she is unreceptive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a love triangle is eventually created in future movies between Kirk, Spock and Uhura. This of course is far from the personal dynamics between these characters in Classic Trek.
5. Star Fleet doesn’t function like a military organization. To be sure, Star Fleet often didn’t function much like a military organization on many occasions in the original series, but the current film takes this to an absurd length. In the film we have Captain Pike suddenly, for no discernable reason, making cadet Kirk second in command to Commander Spock, who is in temporary command of the Enterprise. This of course ignores the chain of command and would be viewed as a mortal insult by the hundreds of officers aboard the Enterprise with higher ranks than cadet Kirk.
At the end of the movie cadet Kirk is promoted to Captain, using Army ranks that would be going from second lieutenant to bird colonel in one jump, and given command of the Enterprise which would be equivalent to giving command of a brigade to a graduate of West Point about a week after graduation.
Ensign Chekhov is 17 years old so I guess we have to assume that he never attended Star Fleet and was commissioned in some mysterious way.
McCoy, although he is already a doctor, appears to be attending Star Fleet, which would make an interesting experience for someone who has been through med school basically repeating college as an undergrad.
Once you come to terms with the fact that this is not Classic Trek, and that we have” boldly gone” on to something else, it is enjoyable. From a commercial standpoint I can understand doing it this way. Having new actors and actresses in the old roles in a new series of films that closely imitated the old series might have worked on the basis of nostalgia once or twice, but my guess is that the people behind this project have grander plans. What we have here is a new birth of the Star Trek universe. Some of the names are the same but everything else is up for grabs. This gives ample freedom for creativity in future films. This project could have easily ended in artistic and financial disaster, but the creators have carried this off I think on both fronts and they are to be congratulated for skillfully devising what may be the top grossing, and perhaps most entertaining, film this year.