Note: This contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this film yet, you might want to wait and read this later.
I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard trekkie, although I’ve seen all of the original series many times over and have now seen all of the movies. I don’t collect any memorabilia and I don’t memorize a lot of facts about the franchise. I just have always liked it.
I don’t, however, like the latest theatrical release movie, simply called Star Trek. I think I can be fairly certain that there will be people who like it and people who hate it. If you were expecting it to be utterly faithful to the original and fill in gaps or provide insights, you’ll find it a mixed blessing.
I think that one thing people will not like at all is the creation of a completely different timeline. After the story of this installment, the planet Vulcan no longer exists and Spock’s human mother is dead. No, it doesn’t end some point beyond the end of the movie where Sarek asks Spock if he has any messages for his mother. It’s right after the main characters have had their first mission together. If you know the original series and all of the movies based on it, you’ll find this a little disconcerting. This is not, however, why I didn’t like it.
I thought the portrayals of characters I’ve loved for decades were pretty good. I especially liked Karl Urban as McCoy. He’s pretty good if I don’t find myself thinking he’s not doing DeForest Kelley justice. I liked him a lot. Zachary Quinto as Spock was amazing! It was pretty tough to play Leonard Nimoy’s character and share the screen with Nimoy himself, who also played Spock.
If I were giving awards, Ben Cross would get one as Sarek, not meaning to be disloyal to Mark Lenard. I’ve been a fan of Ben Cross ever since he played Barnabas Collins in the Dark Shadows revival series. As Sarek, Cross was the perfect logical Vulcan, until his revelation of love for Spock’s mother.
So, you’ve probably noticed by now that I have not really said why I didn’t like the new Star Trek. Well, here it goes…
Consider this recap of them movies made thus far:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the story of some space alien phenomenon coming across the galaxy towards earth, destroying things in its path. Inside the phenomenon is early Earth probe, Voyager, all newly refitted by some superior alien intelligence. It’s purpose? Finding itself, or finding its maker and learning about itself. Unfortunately, in the process, it will destroy all life on earth.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is the story of Khan, whom we met in the original series. Khan and his followers were discovered in a vessel floating in space, in suspended animation, from earth. In the series, these renegades are stranded on a planet where they can’t do any harm. In the movie, they escape and try to unleash the power of a new device on the Federation. In the process of savng the Federation, Spock dies and his body is launched onto a planet where the device has also been deployed.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock has Kirk and friends trying to rescue a rejuvenated Spock from the Genesis planet before a Klingon can get the secrets of the planet.
In Star Trek IV: The Journey Home, another advanced alien probe is making its way through the galaxy towards Earth. The probe doesn’t even notice the humans and other aliens of the Federation. They’re only interested in Earth’s humpback whales. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that calling to the whales is disabling space stations along the way and wreaking havoc on Earth’s climate. To the rescue comes the crew of the now-dead Enterprise. In a captured Klingon warbird, they slingshot around the sun into the past and grab some humpback whales to come back to the future so the whales can make the probe go away.
We meet Spock’s brother in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He is taking the Enterprise to the center of the galaxy to find God. He finds trouble instead.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country begins with a moon of the Klingon home world exploding, creating a big problem for the Klingons. They sue for peace with the Federation, but elements in both the Federation and the Klingon Empire don’t want peace.
The original series characters meet the characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation in Star Trek: Generations. Another space anomaly is terrorizing the galaxy. Captains Picard and Kirk team up to battle it. Kirk has been in the same anomaly and not aging.
Picard’s old enemy, the Borg, threaten Earth in Star Trek: First Contact. How does Picard save the day? He goes back in time.
Picard leads a rebellion against the Federation in Star Trek: Insurrection in order to preserve and protect a developing race.
In the last installment involving Picard, Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard confronts a clone of himself who has somehow gained control of the Romulan Empire. The clone’s goal? The destruction of Earh.
So, now we finally come to the latest movie. Just known as Star Trek, we begin with an anomlay going through the galaxy and destroying things. It first destroys a star ship captained by our Captain Kirk’s father. Then it heads to Vulcan where it destroys that planet and is now on its way to Earth. Without trying to recap the entire plot, it’s standard fare, with much slicker special effects.
Consider these similarities with former installments:
- Evil empire homeworld destructions (Klingon and Romulan)
- Space-time anomalies (Black holes, the Nexus)
- Irresistible force attacking the Earth (V’ger et al, the Genesis device, the whale thingy, the Nexus, the Borg, Shinzon’s Warbird, Nero and his blackhole-maker)
- Star ship Enterprise saves the day, naturally
- Time travel or enemies out of the past (V’ger, Khan, rescuing whales, Sybok, fighting the Borg, Shinzon, Nero)
- Grudges (Khan/Kirk, Sybok/Spock, the Borg/Picard, Shinzon/Picard, and now, Nero/Spock)
Watching the latest movie, it seems like all of the other movies’ plot devices recycled once again. It wasn’t really innovative. It was just the same old stuff. What would really be great is if some space-time anomaly caused the filmmakers to go back in time and think of something more original.