Okay, as any regular reader of this blog could guess, I went out to watch the new Star Trek movie. So how was it?
First let’s look at all its ugly sides. The story was just downright hairbrained and unbelievable. While there have been several good examples of using time travel in Star Trek movies and series episodes (e.g. First Contact, Time Squared and Time’s Arrow in Next Generation, Children of Time in Deep Space Nine and even Timeless in Voyager), this one does not join the circle. It merely serves as a vehicle, to bend existing lore so as to allow the “new” Star Trek to take a different direction. It’s really unbelievable, how one should even accept Vulcan and Romulus being destroyed, when they serve as half the basis for all of Trek‘s stories. Not only would the cinematic movies lose all their meaning, but some of my favorite episodes on the series would not exist without those green-blooded guys. Not a particularly smart move.
The effects were kinda okay, but a bit over the top. Some shots were so tightly zoomed in, you couldn’t really see anything except yet another laser blast or explosion. I also found the excessive use of those bright anamorphic lens flares quite annoying after a while. They simply served no purpose and wasn’t that George Lucas‘ pastime, anyway? Much has been written about the ice monster, for instance on Wired, but I honestly thought it looked just plain ridiculous. Similarly, the design of the Romulan pirates’ ship was utterly unimaginative. On the other hand, some of the exterior shots depicting Earth and Vulcan were done very nicely and of course pretty much all the space ship stuff was done quite well, but heh, let’s not forget that there are limits to physical models as they were used in the older movies and series, CG in a TV series has budget constraints and all those fancy touchscreen and LCD technology one would use these days for control panels was not even available, so naturally, these things can only get better.
As a final bad thing I would like to take a few words on the acting. Okay, it’s Trek and it’s all makebelief, anyway, but a lot of the acting was just stiff and uncreative. Neither did Nero look really menacing nor did the crew of the Enterprise really live up to their predecessors. Kirk lacked all the energy as when William Shatner portrayed him (even the old, fat one), Bones looked way too old, Scotty came across as some moron who just accidentally plugs together circuitry that may work or may not, Chekov is just some curly blonde guy with a funny accent. That’s how you destroy legends! Funnily, the two people that are standing out are indeed the ones that are the stiffest in the original series and movies – Spock and Uhura.
Now that all may sound very negative, but this is of course all from a fan perspective. You know, even when the region where I live was still called GDR (German Democratic Republic) and part of the Eastern block, we made it a point to watch Next Generation every day at 16.00 on ZDF (yes, my German friends, remember that it started all on public TV around these parts, before Sat 1 ruined it…!), and that now being more than 20 years ago, it certainly has burned itself into memory. Regardless of that, it is still an excellent movie, it’s just not a Trek movie and that’s probably the sad part. They could have given everybody different names, designed the ships differently, given it a different name and the movie would still be fun to watch, but beyond a few puns here and there and of course Leonard Nimoy‘s appearance as Spock‘s older self, there is very little that ties in with existing stuff. If you will, you need to erase all your prior knowledge of the Trek universe to really enjoy it in the way it is probably meant to be. Perhaps the second movie will do that for me, but for now I’d rather stick with my collection of the classics…