First, a word about what I think about spoilers: I prefer never to go to a movie unprepared. I can think of only one movie I’ve seen in my entire life where I felt I was better off not knowing the ending beforehand. Otherwise, I prefer to know as much as possible. For the early Star Trek movies, I had the local science fiction bookstore call me when the novelization came in so that I could read it before seeing the movie. For this movie, I read a detailed synopsis on the Internet. I’m glad I did.
Therefore, if you don’t want to know anything about a movie before you see it, and you haven’t seen the Star Trek movie yet, this essay is not for you. Come back and read it after you’ve seen the movie.
I noted that the last Star Trek movie I saw was Star Trek: Nemesis, in 2002. I haven’t enjoyed all the Star Trek movies. I left Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, with feelings of disappointment. On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: Nemesis, which many other Star Trek fans weren’t happy with. I feel the best of the Star Trek movies were Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The remainder of the movies I felt were satisfactory.

I always want to see the Star Trek movie on the first day, as soon as possible. Knowing that there might be showings on Thursday, May 7, I checked the newspaper for movie times. I found out, to my surprise, that the newspaper doesn’t have movie times anymore. Instead, I was directed to call the theater for show times or check the theater’s web site. In so doing, I couldn’t find anyplace showing the movie before 7 pm. I prefer to go earlier to avoid crowds (and sellouts). Also, afternoon prices are lower.

For the 7 pm showing, I arrived at 6:40 pm to avoid a sellout. Not only was there not a sellout, I was the first one there. By the time the movie started, there were maybe 20 viewers in the theater. (This was about the same number as I found when I watched Star Trek: Nemesis on the first day.) In addition, the projection was out of alignment and one of the audience members had to inform the theater staff to fix it (they did).

Now, for the movie:

J. J. Abrams did a very smart thing by establishing this as an alternate Star Trek timeline. This has the advantage for him, as a producer, of not having to keep track of all the Star Trek history for the past 40 years; and, it has the advantage for me, the viewer, of not having to be annoyed at the production staff and writers for not following the history.

With that in mind, I thought the movie was largely spectacular with occasional unnecessarily silly scenes (example: materializing Scotty in the water tank). I left the movie with a pleasant feeling, and I would want to see it again. I would definitely want to purchase the DVD.

I thought the characters were great. Chris Pine does a wonderful job with James T. Kirk. I felt the portrayal was realistic. As with Jean-Luc Picard, it seems that a defining moment for Kirk was that he was in a bar fight where his opponents won. This concept didn’t work for me for Picard; it did for Kirk. The Kobyashi Maru scenario was vintage Kirk.  I thought the idea that Kirk was a genius with an attitude also worked. (In fact, the Enterprise seems to be filled with geniuses. That’s fine with me, since the Enterprise WAS supposed to be staffed with the best and brightest.)  He ends up being, as before, the youngest captain in Starfleet, and the way the story unfolds believably tells us that he deserved it. (His premature sitting in the captain’s chair was priceless!)

I always felt Spock was the strongest character, and Zachary Quinto does a great job. (As did the actor who played the young Spock, fighting his schoolmates…which is a part of Star Trek history, though hinted at in the animated “Yesteryear.”) Leonard Nimoy also did his usual fine portrayal.
I knew from the hints that Dr. Leonard McCoy joined the academy as an older student, and I really enjoyed this being played out on the screen. I’m glad they mentioned the divorce as his reason for joining Starfleet.

Scotty, Sulu, and Uhura also came off very well. I particularly enjoyed Uhura’s conversation with Spock when she tells him that she deserves to be assigned to the Enterprise.

The Chekov character and actor were first-rate. I was not happy with Chekov from the time he was introduced in 1967 (and wasn’t happy with Walter Koenig, either). But THIS Chekov I enjoyed watching! He is not the annoying boy genius that Wesley Crusher was, either. I wish they had given Chekov this potential in the first place!

Being a long-time fan of Vulcan and Vulcans, I was grieved when Vulcan was destroyed. I presume that T’Pau was one of the rescued? Sarek, however, was well-played, though the Amanda character seemed weak.
Miscellanous comments: I noted Admiral Komack in the tribunal, though he didn’t have any lines. When Sulu and Kirk went to destroy the drill, I wondered why they didn’t have phasers with them. (Sulu, at least, brought a sword!) And this is the second movie where the bad guy is motivated by revenge for the death of his wife. I hope that this is the last time, because this is getting old!

These are my initial thoughts about the Star Trek movie. I hope there’s a sequel!

Posted by Joan Marie Verba at 5/8/2009 11:09 AM