Treknobabble #66: The Needs of the Many: A Star Trek Review

The Needs of the Many

Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
– Maria Robinson.

It has been over a week since the future began. Disappointment. In a word, that’s what I felt by the time the ending credits started to play for the new Star Trek film. Despite the probable irrelevance of my opinions and the superfluous nature of another Star Trek review, I feel obligated to review the film given that this column, Treknobabble, was started in anticipation of the film. I have been ruminating and trying to put some perspective on my disappointment before committing my opinions into words. Was it the heavy anticipation that created unrealistic expectations, especially after the ecstatic reactions from preview audiences? I did enjoy Star Trek to some extent, but if it wasn’t a film set in the Star Trek milieu, I would have enjoyed it less. So I am sort of wondering why other people are raving about the film and wondering why the majority of reviewers have been effusive with their praise as well.

I had read that some news outlets were looking to film some reactions from Trekkies who dislike the film, because a sensationalistic headline could easily be applied to this newsworthy type of story. I feel as though some Trekkies are even expected to have a strong negative reaction opposite to popular opinion. The Onion hilariously made a false news story with this expectation. It feels like my opinion is reactionary and without any validity. Knowing that I have this Promethean task ahead of me, I must credibly argue why the majority of people have this mass delusion of thinking that Star Trek is wonderful. And then I realized the futility of rationalizing my opinion. I cannot deny that people enjoyed Star Trek. I wish I could be flippant and cite Talosian interference.

I suppose if the majority of the opinions were negative towards the film, I might defend the film and highlight some of its merits instead, but I would hope that I would concede that the film was “bad.” (After all, I am one of the few Trekkies who defend the fifth Star Trek film that won the Razzie Award for the worst film of the year.) I didn’t want to repeat all the things that have been covered in other reviews. I wanted to find a new angle at which I could approach this review. One of my thoughts was to dispassionately dissect the film scene by scene. But I thought that might get too didactic of which Star Trek has always been accused. One interesting approach was to delve into what makes a movie fun and to provide an academic psychological perspective. But I couldn’t easily find any reference material on which to base my opinions. And then I came up with the perfect approach! I’ll reveal my approach at the end of this review in case it’s not apparent by the end.

Before I talk about Star Trek, I should comment on the concepts of what makes a film entertaining as opposed to what makes a film “important.” I believe that what makes a film entertaining is subjective. You can be entertained by Star Trek whereas I may not be, and neither of us would be wrong. I believe what makes a film “important” is objective; however, a problem arises if we can’t reach a consensus as to what makes a film “important.” With a review being a one-sided conversation, if you don’t agree with what I think is entertaining or “important,” then I can understand why you would not agree with me in thinking that Star Trek is “bad.” With that said, I’m not here to convince you that Star Trek is “bad.”

Star Trek’s story is simple. It’s a revenge story. Variations of it have been done in past Star Trek stories. The Wrath of Khan, arguably the most popular Star Trek film, was a revenge story. Some people have said that over Star Trek’s 40 year history, Star Trek has told every story imaginable. I would disagree, but I would be hard-pressed to come up with an original story myself. I suppose there are a limited number of basic stories, but it’s the nuances in the way a story is told that make the retelling of stories so enjoyable.

The introduction is typical for a Star Trek film and I suspect it will be the most boring part for general audiences. We are then shown a few moments in Kirk’s life interspersed with a few moments in Spock’s life before they encounter each other at Starfleet Academy. And then the remainder of the film is composed of action set-pieces held together by a straight-forward narrative as Kirk, Spock and crew deal with Nero, a Romulan villain.

Coincidences are a part of everyday life and I normally excuse them in films in order to allow myself to be entertained except when a film is plot-driven. For example, if the movie is a comedy, then I’ll overlook a coincidence for the price of a laugh; however, in a thriller, if a mystery in a plot is solved through coincidence, then I’ll tend to be disappointed. In Star Trek, the writers have explained away the coincidences by stating that the universe was conspiring to arrange things in the way they occurred in other timelines. Some people think that the introduction of an alternative timeline was clever in order to accommodate Star Trek fans who feared that their revered Star Trek canon would be negated. I don’t accept that it was necessary to reboot Star Trek in order to add an element of unpredictability.

In literary and film criticism, the significance of new works relies on their ability to reference the classics either metaphorically or through continuation of past themes. I don’t mind that this Star Trek does not follow canon, but I would have preferred if it had, because there potentially would have been greater meaning in the story. I suppose in trying to reach a greater audience, the new Star Trek film loses the opportunity for a more enriching experience for Trekkies. One thing I did not like is that the changes in Star Trek canon did not seem to me to be an improvement. Perhaps the changes offered an opportunity for different stories in later movies, but sticking to canon would not have ruined the film for general audiences. I know it’s easy to counter my argument so let’s just leave this as my subjective opinion.

There was very little in the film that seemed fresh or new to me. I had previously seen all the promotional clips and previews from the film, but there was nothing fresh or new in these clips and previews either. I was not awed by the visual effects. In fact, I wonder where they spent the 150 million dollars. Most critics acknowledge that the story is lacking. I may be exaggerating here, but Star Trek felt to me like a well-made fan film. I didn’t feel any suspense or tension. I was prepared for a thrill-ride, but the conclusion was definitely a let-down. All the nods to the fans were fine, but I wanted something new! As far as empty calories go, I didn’t enjoy the aftertaste.

I am happy that so many non-fans have embraced the new Star Trek film even though I have no illusions that any of them will take the time to investigate any of the previous available Star Trek material and appreciate the richness to be found. I do realize that Star Trek was meant to attract people outside of its core audience. And in that respect, it has succeeded admirably. Were future Star Trek movies not to incorporate the virtuousness of the Star Trek ethos, I think I will be disappointed even further, but if Star Trek is able to continue as a result, then who am I to stand in the way of the universe?

I know I haven’t talked much about the film itself. I haven’t talked about the enjoyable aspects that would have undercut my thesis that Star Trek is “bad.” And I haven’t explained in detail why the Star Trek film is “bad.” I could say that the film was so “bad” that it left me without anything to say about it. Maybe the film is “good.” And maybe I don’t care enough to convince you that Star Trek is “bad.” Or maybe my evidence is groundless. So, for the sake of my sanity, my approach to this review was to avoid reviewing the movie. (I think I need therapy.)

Many of my quibbles can be excused if one lays out a defense with the main arguments being that this film is a reboot and it’s a summer block-buster. That is, the only requirement for the story was to re-introduce the characters in an entertaining and exciting way. In the final analysis, perhaps my emotion is overruling reason. And no amount of argument will sway what the human heart has decided.

“In any case, were I to invoke logic, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
“Or the one.”
– Spock and Kirk
The Wrath of Khan

  • This is the first Treknobabble I’ve read as I’ve never had much interest in Star Trek, but I did have an interest in hearing your opinions, Reed. I guess I’ll have to listen to the latest Film Junk Podcast and the two and a half hour extra show to hear your opinions on the new film, because this “review” didn’t showcase too many of them. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

  • cronenfly

    It was bad because all of the actors portraying the original characters felt as though they were doing caricature performances. It was bad because it felt and looked very contrived. The only thing i liked about it was the score and the sound design. And why the hell did we need to see a young kirk driving a stolen automobile jamming to Beastie Boys???? a completely useless scene thrown in to make the young teen audience mumble “fucking tits man” under their nasty shit breath.

    That is why it was bad. now someone come in here and tell me why it was good.

  • Maopheus

    I was going to comment that I thought that this column was written by Reed not Jay, so I was confused to see Jay given the credit. Glad to see that you corrected it.

  • DaveC

    Sounds more to me like you’ve got a stick in your craw. Relax and enjoy the movie for what it was- fun, entertaining, and different from what we know of Trek. You’ll live longer.

  • Quirk

    #4. It is people like you at are why we have such problems in America. you are trying to shove your opinion down someone else’s throat, telling them what to think and feel so you feel better. The reviewer was spot on in that the reviewer did not try to cram their opinion down our throats. I also felt the story was ridiculous, weak, and hardly thought out. However, that is my opinion. And who says the reviewer wants to live long at all? Opinions are for everyone and there is nothing wrong with stating ours, just so long as we don’t try to make people think our way also. That is very un-trek. But then again, so is this latest film.
    Quirk out.

  • Maopheus

    Reed, I think if you were able to express yourself on the podcast the way you did is column then I think you would have come across better. This would probably explain your infrequent appearances on the podcast. Listening to you was exasperating to say the least. While some may think that Greg was bullying you, he seemed to express my exact feelings. Having said all of that, I still don’t think you really made any good points. However you acknowledge that, so I won’t be too hard. It’s just that while I can appreciate the viewpoint that the story lacked something, I don’t agree that the use of the alternate timeline/straying from canon was unnecessary and without merit. I think one reason why they needed to do this was because it is highly unlikely that in the original timeline the crew formed the way that it did with every major member joining the Enterprise when it did for the same mission. It is much more likely that each member joined at a different time and probably years later then what we see in this movie. Remember also that in the original timeline this mission never happened because there was no Nero to show up at Vulcan to precipitate this extraordinary mission. Obviously a movie showing the crew forming over a period of years would be very unentertaining so I really don’t see how they could have stuck to canon as Reed says is possible and still come up with a good concept.
    The one other point that you bring up is an interesting one, and that is that various media outlets were trying to gauge the pulse of “Trekkie” community, and find out if they were unified or not in their like/dislike of the movie. Well as it is very likely, there is no unified opinion. It depends on your age, how much you are into it, and what your tastes are. I would not consider myself a real ‘Trekkie’, but I have probably watched at half to 2/3 of the original episodes (and that’s conservative), all the movies, all TNG episodes, the first couple seasons of Voyager and DS:9. I have bought models, novels, and a lot of the really esoteric geeky books like Scotty’s Guide to the Enterprise, the very non-canonical book on Star Trek alien races, and Mike Okuda’s Technical Guide to the Enterprise, and the Star Trek Encyclopedia and Chronology. So I would say that I have pretty good knowledge of the ST universe. And I really liked the movie. I think I liked it because I had become disillusioned with the ST products. I just stopped buying the fact that all the aliens speak English and look like humans with funny foreheads. I think the overall concept works but that something fresh and new needed to happen. I still think that a TV series is the best medium for Star Trek, but I think it’s been played out, so movies are what we have. So I have no problem with seeing the franchise get younger, sexier, brighter and all that good stuff. But I think I feel this way because even I like ST it’s not the absolute most favorite of the stuff I like so I don’t feel protective of it.
    As an additional point, it’s been mentioned that the performances were essentially caricatures of the originals. Hmm, I don’t know. I seem to recall that original Chekov was pretty much an overly nationalistic Russian who would make up history just to show that a Russian had a prominent role (see Trouble with Tribbles for the discussion on quadrotriticale). Scotty was a stereotypical Scot with his brogue and his love of whiskey, see the episode where he drinks the alien under the table. Shatner’s portrayal of Kirk, at least later on, became a bit of a self-caricature. I think they may come off as caricatures simply because they didn’t have a lot of screen time compared to the big 3 and Uhura. Maybe in later movies we’ll get more of a chance to see their characters evolve.

  • Soapbox

    Holy shit. Making movies for people like Quirk is why Star Trek was dead for 7 years. Lighten up, guy

  • bullet3

    Jesus you trekkies have a serious stick up your ass.
    “It is people like you why we have problems with america?”

    Its fucking star-trek, grow up and move past the fact that your precious tv-show, which was ridiculously cheesy and contrived, has been updated to be made watchable by people who haven’t spent years reading up on the bullshit mythology, made-up languages, and want to actually have a good time at the movies.
    And don’t give me the whole “Star Trek was full of brilliant science-fiction ideas and the movie dumbs it down” crap. If you actually go back and watch it, Star Trek was always almost more fantasy than science-fiction. The science was totally bullshit, and it didn’t explore any modern parallels or ideas of identity even half as well as Battlestar Galactica did.

    And I’m not even a blind defender of the new movie, I liked it, didn’t love it, thought it was a solid attempt at making the movies at least slightly engaging. But the nerve of some of the people I see commenting, talking condescendingly like we’re the inferior adrenaline junkies who don’t appreciate ideas and need non-stop action and blah, blah, blah.

    By all means, dislike the movie, there’s certainly shit to pick at and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but don’t make blanket generalizations on people because they enjoy the movie. Christ, it’s bad enough on aintitcool, you’d think I wouldn’t have to put up with this shit here.

    ahhhhhh…….end rant, that feels better

  • BigHungry

    Reed – I would like you to re-watch the movie again and then see if you feel the same way. I must say my feeling is with prequels is that they can be boring because you already know who is going to live or die so there is no real danger for a lot of characters in the film (because they are alive later on). I really think the writers did a smart thing in breaking the time line for future movies. I feel the other Star Trek cannon is still honored and remains with this alternate time line. Pure Genius and in fact they can even play with the philosophy of Star Trek even more.

    Please also look at the animated cartoon of Star Trek “”Yesteryear” where spock meets himself too. I think this was a strong episode.

    While I disagree with you on the movie I do respect your opinions and I still like Cantankerous. Thanks for your views but please re-watch it with an open mind next time. But – I must say if we all liked the same things this world would be boring, so it is ok if you hate it.


  • Maopheus

    I don’t think the problem is that Reed is running down non-Trekkies who like the film or suggesting that if you like the film you are not a Trekkie, because really why should it matter? I think his problem is that he has stated he doesn’t like the movie but somehow cannot really explain why and goes about in a very tortured way. I don’t know, maybe he explains it better in the bonus podcast but if it’s more micro nitpicking and going over the minutiae of Star Trek trivia, well I could do that as well as anyone but I don’t know that any of that would accomplish anything. Therefore I really don’t understand why Reed was invited onto the main podcast. I was looking forward to hearing his comments on the film as he is supposed to be the resident “Trekkie” but came away disappointed as he appeared unable to make any good points, seemed unprepared, and at times unable to maintain a train of thought. This post/review sounds better, and if he could have been as eloquent during the podcast as he was here in this review, like I mentioned before, perhaps his appearance would not have been quite so underwhelming but I still think that he would have shot down by the other because he brought nothing to the table. In fact the entire podcast came off as a disappointment mainly because they went off on too many tangents and most seemed to be caused by Reed, and never seemed to get on track. I was looking for an in-depth, interesting, and insightful discussion on the movie similar to the other podcasts but what I got was a disorganized, inconclusive mess.

  • cronenfly

    Well i guess i must admit it was mildly entertaining…and i was drunk when i saw it…and i am not by any means a trekkie.

  • Bob The Slob


    do you like Dane Cook and brand name clothing?

  • Rosa

    Vulcan is gone? I don’t like where this new future is going. Also, I was hoping for a little bit of retro-futurism amidst the fancy special effects. I thought the move was “bad” as well. Also, isn’t Spock supposed to be betrothed?

  • Well, I’m glad people aren’t bored yet with talking about Star Trek.

    Rosa, you raise an interesting point even though we’re seeing an alternate timeline in Star Trek. I don’t know how the arranged marriages work on Vulcan, but I’m guessing that there are exceptions since even Spock’s dad is still married to an Earth woman. So I’m guessing Spock isn’t betrothed to T’Pring in this timeline. Or maybe he still is and is just having a fling with Uhura. Ha ha.

    Maopheus, I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but would you direct me to a review or a podcast of the Star Trek movie that you found to be in-depth, interesting, and insightful? I have yet to find one myself.

  • GORT

    Reed, to me it seems that you are hating this movie just for the sake of hating it. I’m convinced of it more then ever after listing to the 2.5 hour podcast with Jay. Complaining about the forward momentum, seriously?

  • BigHungry

    Reed – In all honesty how would of you done the movie?
    Would you have done a prequel or continued the next gen format in the future?
    Well since your are the asleep right now because it is day light out…
    I will wait for your answer later on?????

  • spock

    Star trek has been dead since the last movie, Nemesis. Now it’s the turn of the new star trek movies to shine the ones that trekies won’t like because normal people likes them. We understand it was your fortress of solitude, the thing that nobody “understands” but you. But from now on everybody understands star trek ans the story makes sense so stop being all cry babies and endorse the movie or put your headphones on and watch star trek from the 70’S for the 247th time

  • BigHungry, I don’t have a clear idea of how I would make a Star Trek movie. There are limitless directions to go in and all seem worthwhile with an entertaining story. I’m not trying to avoid answering you. That’s the way I feel. I do think it was a bold move to recast the Original Series crew, and it obviously worked.

    If you’re asking me how I would have improved Abrams’ Star Trek, then I guess I would have added things that I guess most people find boring. Like adding conversations between the major characters. Like adding moralistic, philosophical elements.

    DaveC, GORT, and spock, I’m guessing many people have the same feelings as you do as to why I think Star Trek is “bad.” I know that people perceive nit-picking as ridiculous, that’s why I didn’t do that in my written review. That’s why I wrote blanket statements like “I was not awed by the visual effects” without trying to justify my statements.

    People think I’m being contradictory because I say thinks like, “I like Michael Bay films.” For example, I thought the visual effects in Transformers were awesome, probably because I had never seen giant, realistic transforming machines interacting within human environments.

    Okay, I’ll admit one scene in Star Trek that really bothers me that probably would not have bothered me in any other film. It’s the scene where Kirk orders all weapons fired at Nero’s ship. In a nod to the humane aspects of Star Trek, Kirk does “cutely” ask Spock if Spock wants to debate Kirk’s decision. The new Star Trek seems to be condoning revenge. Or I guess if you want to shine a good light on this, it’s condoning “Do unto others as they would do unto you.” We know Nero’s a villain because he kills innocent people. Well, how does Kirk know that on Nero’s ship that there’s not a resistance group or at least some Romulans who oppose Nero’s ways? Kirk condemns all Romulans on Nero’s ship to death! Admittedly, I know there are examples from other Star Trek episodes that are guilty of this as well. But I’m not excusing those episodes either. I think what makes this inexcusable in Star Trek is that destroying Nero’s ship seems to be the only option to solve the problem.

  • Finally, Star Trek is almost cool! I’ve always thought that the original Star Trek was like a B-movie. The sets were generic-looking and William Shatner? Please. This one has a star quality all its own…

  • Rick

    great and entertaining movie. absolutly loved it. cant wait for the next one.

  • Interesting review, loved the film and highly recommded.

  • Maopheus

    Well, Reed, I thought that Sean’s review pretty much fit the bill for me. He seemed to sum up my opinions. Not that I read a lot of ST reviews, because I generally don’t pay them much heed, but I usually look forward to the FJ review.

  • I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but would you direct me to a review or a podcast of the Star Trek movie that you found to be in-depth, interesting, and insightful? I have yet to find one myself.

    Row Three

  • Sorry Reed, but you’re losing all respect in my book with this review. You can’t excuse your podcast performances by saying you’ll follow-up with a written review and then submit this. You can’t start off a review with words like “Promethean” and then say nothing.

    Take some time. Figure a right angle and WOW us with some insight from your Red Matter brain. I suggest making the article bigger then this movie and more about what you feel is being lost with the new direction. Hell, maybe it will be linked and read by some of the actual filmmakers involved. This review will not.

  • Maopheus

    I agree with Rus. I also think that the scene that Reed mentions that bothered him now makes it clear to me the flaw in his reasoning. I have always felt that the stories in films, whether set in the past or the future are really allegories about modern life, not meant to be exact recreations of the past or some imagined future. They are stories about us, but simply set in a different time. So even though Braveheart is a story about a Scottish patriot, it’s really meant to inspire our lives and to try to emulate William Wallace and what he believed. So they didn’t get the details exactly right, that’s not the point. But I seem to get the sense that Reed thinks that the Roddenberry Star Trek universe and its ethos and culture and way of life is something that is real and that indicates to me a case of delusion. Because if anything, the most interesting episodes in the various ST series are always the ones in which the Captain, Kirk or Picard or whoever, breaks the Prime Directive. If the Prime Directive were such a great idea then wouldn’t it be a better idea to stick to it then to break it. Also, the episodes that clearly set up a modern moral or cultural scenario disguised in a sci-fi setting are the ones that touch us the most, like the one where Riker falls for the androgynous alien, clearly a story about homosexuality, or the one where Troi’s mom is in love with the scientist who has to commit suicide at the age of 60. And you mention how it is somehow wrong to destroy the enemy’s ship. I recall that in every ST movie where that scenario was available, the enemy ship was destroyed and there was no hesitation or discussion or negotiation. Hell, Kirk even blew up his own damn ship to keep it out of Klingon hands and took a few of them with it, so I find Reed’s complaint to be extremely hollow. Even though Starfleet is called an exploratory organization, they are clearly organized in a way emulating a naval military force. Everything about them is militaristic from the ranks, to the uniforms, the order and discipline and the preservation of naval traditions. If the future is supposed to be so utopian, then why would they need this? I think the new ST movie simply states bluntly what had only been hinted at before: Regulations and rules be damned, we’re gonna do what’s right. This is a new Star Trek and it ain’t your daddy’s. The future isn’t perfect, it doesn’t abide by rules, it doesn’t fit into a neat and tidy box, there are still bad people out there who want to do bad things. And what we want to see is, what are the good guys gonna do about it? And really isn’t that what almost every good action/adventure is about?

  • Every quibble you have with Star Trek is unfounded. In you podcast you said you wished their was an interview with the screenwriters that explained everything. Well, guess what… There is!

    Jeff Goldsmith is from Creative Screenwriting Magazine and he recently had them on his podcast and did an hour and half interview with Orci and Kurtzman. Seriously, if you have quibbles with this film, you will no longer after listening to their very intelligent and sensible explanations for virtually every nit-pick. You may yet be a Trek 2009 fan.

  • bullet3

    So Reed, if I understand correctly, you can’t come up with a single qualitative argument(with evidence) against the film, and you’ve sugarcoated this fact with a bunch of fancy prose while refuting your critics on the basis that this is your subjective opinion. Ya, its a subjective opinion, that’s all fine and good, but you can’t seem to even phrase what is bothering you about this film. More than ever I’m convinced you have no idea why you dislike it.

  • While I have no problem with someone disliking a movie, if you’re going to say a movie is bad, please have some kind of reasoning behind your opinion. Something along the lines of this, but in the negative: I liked Star Trek because I thought the casting and acting was spot on, it was an enjoyable action movie with some good special effects, it brought a film franchise with somewhat of a niche audience mass appeal…etc.

    Maybe if you put your reasons down on paper, people would be more understanding of why you disliked the movie. Isn’t that the point of a review: to give your opinion of the movie but also to explain how you reached that opinion?

  • Alexandre

    I found the film bad. While being a reboot, it did threaded ways that werent needed to thread. Destroying vulcan and, knowing travel to the past was possible (old spock was there and available), not going back to fix is so non-trek (they did come back for a whalle, why not for an entire planet?). Spock ordering Kirk to be eject from the ship is an inimaginable act to even a Klingon standards. Spock having an affair, and being so easily angered by shallow arguments by Kirk was so unbelievable. The car scene was the lamest of all (to me that young buy was scared to death by the looks of him, not very “bold”), Kirk promotion as 1st officer out of nowhere was totally unsuported…. Well, one could go on stating all the flaws of this one movie (did i mention people not burning when reentering atmosfere?), but i feel like “kicking a dead dog”. People seems to have liked it and to not to question that even if entertaining if it was done the rigth way. To me it was a good idea, with a very poor and commercial script. I certainly wont pay to see anymore movies of this time line (if it passes on tv, than yes).

  • Kabir, thx for your comment. I need people who can appreciate what I am trying to do and who can accept when I (seemingly) falter.

    Someone asked Orci about the one scene I questioned. Here’s his response taken from TrekMovie’s transcript of the Q & A:


    ety3: My only real concern with the film comes near the end when Kirk offers an olive branch, and Spock — almost jokingly — questions it. Not to get all high-minded and what-not, but isn’t Spock’s reaction antithetical to the peaceful exploration mindset that Starfleet is supposed to imbue in its members? If Spock had been flat-out angry about the olive branch, that would, at least, have made some sense, character wise. But to play it off as a joke?

    BobOrci: I can understand that. Entertainment value weighs heavily there!

  • Reed – nobody’s opinion on this movie matters in the context of YOUR column. I for one don’t care about what the screenwriters think, other blogs think, and what other Trekies think. I care what you think. Don’t you think it would be healthy and cathartic to write down how you feel Star Trek is changing for the worse? Make it all your opinions and then you are free to tell all the commentators to go to hell. Also when JJ can’t pull off a second film, because the “newness” is gone, you can have the last laugh.

  • @”Entertainment value weighs heavily there!”

    Sacrifice everything meaningful in the name of pure entertainment?

    That is the bane of why I watch movies. Sure it has to be entertaining. But to the point of compromising why you are telling the story. I guess I just viewed Star Trek more than entertainment for entertainments sake. I’m not even sure if that is not what Roddenberry wanted with the show, even.

    I was also underwhelmed by the new trek, mainly on the grounds of the screenplay. BobOrci gives me little faith in that the screenwriting is in good hands…

  • On the other hand, I do dig BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and DEAD ALIVE. So what do I know…

  • bullet3

    Ok, I’ll accept certain plot issues as others above are pointing out, but Reed claims he enjoys every other star trek movie except nemesis and insurrection more than this one. So lets just go back to first contact. Most of the issues that I see you running into on this one, I could pull out just as many(probably more) from that movie. Seriously, I’ll tell you what’s happening here (and it’s apparant if you listen to the first star trek review podcast). It’s people like Reed going in with a certain mindset, knowing this is a reboot with a young cast, and mentally just searching for something they can nitpick later in a review. Reed’s spending the first 10 minutes searching for bloopers is completley indicative of this to me. You could enter any movie with that mindset and come out saying it was terrible.

  • bullet3, Jay made the same claim as you’ve made that I went in with a certain mindset. Yes, I did, but I went in prepared to enjoy the movie because of all the positive reaction. I am not a nitpicker normally. People who read my Killer Import reviews will attest to this.

    Let me sum up why I didn’t enjoy Star Trek. These are only my opinions based on my biases:

    1. The movie didn’t make me feel anything new.
    2. The movie didn’t make me laugh. (Jay was sitting two seats away from me, so he can verify this.)
    3. The movie didn’t inspire me.
    4. The movie made me think bad things more than good things. Wait, maybe I should say the bad things outweighed the good things in my mind.

    One more thing. I don’t think filmmakers should necessarily listen to the audience. So I’m not expecting Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman to make Star Trek into something I like. They have made a lot of people happy, and my somewhat lonely opinion doesn’t really matter. That’s why the title of my review references the “needs of the many” quote.

  • I have to agree with your review, and I also understand why you are having trouble expressing just exactly why it didn’t work for you.

    Personally as a movie taken on it’s own merits, it’s good, and I would have enjoyed it as such. If this was Starship Troopers, I would have loved it, because frankly it had the story quality and mood of Starship Troopers.

    It all boils down to this. It did not feel like Star Trek. It had ludicrous story elements. Seriously, Starfleet actually decided to staff a brand new flagship with en entirely untested crew of new graduates? Are you kidding me? Mighty convenient to the plot, but it sure exposes some major shortcomings in the script, IMO.

    Destroying Vulcan? I don’t have a problem with the alternate timeline idea, but this is taking it a bit far, IMHO.

    Who was that green thing?

    Was it a reboot or wasn’t it? Personally I was quite bothered by the fact that the wrtiers can’t seem to decide. In my opinion they should have wiped the slate clean instead of having this flimsy and awkward attempt to connect it to the rest of the series for no reason except as an excuse to include Leonard Nimoy as far as I can gather.

    Star Trek went of the rails when they made Enterprise, and nothing has been corrected here. Trying to shoehorn a prequel into a universe that has so much history and backstory behind it already never works, unless that backstory already exsisted. That’s why the prequels for Star Wars work as stories, (even if only the third one is actually a good movie), and this doesn’t work so much.

    In short, if they’d just had the guts to make a real reboot of the series, instead of this strange hybrid, the result would have been much better. Instead we have something that is akin to Batman Begins featuring the Cesar Romero Joker travelling from the future.

    The only movie that has ever done time travel well, and not created a painfully large number of plot holes is Back to The Future.

  • And again, I liked the movie as something stand alone, I just wish it had not been connected to the established canon in any way.

    It’s like that goofball Superman Returns being bizzarly sold as a sequel to Superman II. Hello? Superman II already had two sequels.

  • Also, I am really not a Trekkie, I don’t even really like the Original Series, I just have many fond memories of the TNG crew. That show was more about people than it was about space.

  • I figured I’d wait until now, after this post has been buried, so that no one will ever know I wrote about Star Trek on the internet.

    First off, I can appreciate why people have a hard time grappling with your ‘reviews’, Reed. There’s not much to latch onto. It’s why I haven’t responded to your Ong Bak 2 review. That said, fuck ‘em. I’ll always enjoy watching someone try to work out how they feel about a film rather than regurgitate the plot and add a few soundbites, and I’m definitely including myself in that category.

    For the record, I have watched some Star Trek in the past, but haven’t seen anything Star Trek-related in nearly a decade, so I’m hardly a huge fan.

    While I enjoyed this new Star Trek movie, if I wanted to watch an entertaining Star Wars rip-off I would have just watched Battle Beyond The Stars again.

    I didn’t even really realize my disappointment until the very end, when they repeated the Star Trek mantra and hit the part “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations”. You can keep all your talk about the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings of the series. What always fascinated me about Star Trek was that everything revolved around this idea of a band of brave souls cut loose from all they know, thrown into a vastness both frightening and awe-inspiring, and forced to adapt to new and strange cultures. This iteration had none of that.

    I dig that people enjoyed it. I just think that Star Trek provided a welcome alternative to the space opera, and with this reboot mainstream cinema has become just a little more homogenized.

  • Wintle, you made me think with your comment that this reboot ultimately won’t be much of a reboot. People are talking about bringing Khan into the next movie and other familiar elements. You mention what fascinates you about Star Trek and I must admit that Star Trek often falls short of achieving what fascinates you. The Original Series was able to use all the science fiction ideas that authors developed over the years. It seems we’ve run out of ideas.

    Can anyone name a science-fiction story that could easily be adapted into a Star Trek adventure?

  • Matt

    I’m quite a Trekker and I thought it was one of the best Star Wars movies I’ve ever seen. No, that’s not a typo. The movie was really good science fiction, but not so much in the way of good Star Trek.

    One of the things that made (past tense)Star Trek unique was its view of humanity having improved, not just our technology. Gene Roddenberry intended that Starfleet officers in particular were to be models of ethical behavior. In Classic Trek and the Next Generation, conflict among Starfleet officers was forbidden (until Roddenberry passed away, that is). The movie shows Starfleet cadets picking fights, officers fighting, Kirk finishing off the Romulans, etc. Good drama and conflict, but not good Star Trek.

    Is a society of ethically perfect people realistic? Well, that’s the point. Star Trek used science fiction to portray a ideal, romantic view of the future. If you want to watch something with a realistic characters, watch some reality TV instead.

    The movie was missing the usual social commentary, also, of course.

    The movie certainly entertained, though. I loved the Easter Eggs and the fate of the redshirted skydiver.

    Adapting other fiction to Star Trek? Try Star Trek: The Phantom Menace. Substitute Kirk and Spock for the Jedi. Someone from Naboo called the Federation in to mediate. Phaser fire and social commentary ensue. See, that was easy.

  • Great honest review of the film. I really enjoyed it.