I made it to a Memorial Day matinee of Star Trek, but then real life got in the way of writing up this review. I suppose I could have said “Okay as a summer blockbuster, bad as Star Trek”, but one of our meat and potatoes topics deserves a deeper explanation.
The script has all kinds of problems, but the biggest ones are the changes to the three main characters. At its core, classic Trek is about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and the relationships between them. Sure there’s warp speed, phasers, Klingons, and “Beam me up, Scotty”, but the exploration of an ethos through those three main characters is what has made classic Trek compelling for 40 years. Unfortunately, this movie redefines the Kirk-Spock characters and their relationship into something resembling a buddy, cop movie. Spock, the more experience detective who plays things by the book even though he yearns for justice, and Kirk, the young hot-shot, loose cannon who’ll stop at nothing to bring down the bad guys. Anybody game for a series of “Lethal Weapon in Space” movies?
Most of the other story problems come from the attempt to bridge the previous Trek universe with the rebooted version. Generations was generally skewered for the hoops it jumped through to link the classic Trek and Next Generation time periods, but there is a lot of praise for this attempt though it is equally flawed if not more so. Note to writers, something has gone amiss when you need to take 5 minutes in the middle of the movie to explain the time travel scenario that produced the film’s antagonist. I think a clean reboot, ala Casino Royale, would have been the better way to go.
Presentation is the stronger component of Star Trek. The special effects are good and the space battles are presented in shots that are definitely not the usual Trek. The score is solid and does something the story can’t, successfully weaving in elements from the original.
Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy, and Simon Pegg deliver enjoyable performances, but Nimoy and Pegg do not show up until about halfway through the movie. The rest of the acting is middle of the road. Part of me would love to bash Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto for their renditions of Kirk and Spock, but I think they do okay with the writing they are given.