Okay. I broke down and took the family to see Star Trek last week. I was prepared to love it and hate it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
First the good. It was nice to see Paramount finally put real effort into special effects for a Star Trek movie. And it was also nice to see the classic characters as youngsters. It was excellent to see Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov get some real action. The huge advantage of all the “Next Generation” Star Trek series is that they were true ensemble casts. The acting levels after STNG we more uneven than ever before, but they tried. The script, plot, and direction were all good–better than expected.
A few small nods. Great to see the bowels of the Enterprise–truly where no one has gone before. Nice to see continuity on small stuff, like McCoy’s divorce, Spock serving on Pike’s Enterprise, Sulu’s swordplay, Pike in a wheelchair, and even Uhura channeling Hoshi as a linguist. Of course, instead of being Pike’s female Number One, Majel just does computer voice-overs.
Now the rest. Nice going, Mr Abrams for blowing up not just a planet with six billion people, but hundreds of tv episodes and the ten movies where we have gone before. Sure, sure, some neo-Trek apologist will say it’s all in good fun, and it’s just an alternate history they can rejigger Bobby Ewing style if they don’t like where it’s heading … at the box office.
“You realize that Tuvok’s grandparents were sucked into a black hole tonight, don’t you?” I asked.
“No, they got the bad guy and they saved everything, right?” she said.
“To save Vulcan, they would need to go back in time and defeat Nero.”
“So they didn’t save Vulcan?”
“They saved the Earth. Remember Spock’s crack about being an endangered species?”
“Grandpa and Grandma Tuvok might have been saved though.”
“I calculate the odds of survival of any Vulcan individual at one in 600,000. For all of Tuvok’s four progenitors to have been saved, the odds are one in one-hundred twenty-nine sextillion, six-hundred quintillion.”
And the young miss started giggling in the back seat.
Okay, I didn’t have the 129.6 sextillion figure at hand when I was driving home. But you get the drift. Tuvok won’t be around to save Janeway’s butt in the Delta Quadrant in the 24th century. Heck, he won’t even get to infiltrate the Maquis and make nice with Chakotay. One series blown up before it gets off the ground. Maybe it was by design.
I sure hope Kirk pays more attention to Khan when he bumps into him in the Abrams universe, because if Spock croaks while saving the Enterprise in the Mutara Nebula, there’s no going back to Mount Selaya to sort out his soul when it’s all done.
My biggest complaint is the sheer unwillingness of the franchise to live up to its billing, Boldly Going where None Have Gone Before. After classic Trek, arguably the only great move was shooting ahead eighty years to a “next generation.” After that, the three series concepts were meek and tame.
“Hey guys, if a ship exploring the galaxy is so great, let’s nail down a whole series to a space station with a mall.”
“Okay, the station idea wasn’t so hot. Let’s strand a woman captain on the other end of the galaxy for no decent reason.”
“Let’s go back in time and see how all the cool stuff like phasers, shields, warp 7 and miniskirts got invented.”
And now we have a movie that got the special effects right, the banter right, and the casting nailed picture perfect. The only problem is they didn’t set it in the 27th century. Where we truly haven’t gone before.
I’ll be the first to admit that Kirk and Spock sell this movie, even if they are kids and even if they are different actors. (Bill Shatner take note.) And the franchise was indeed desperate for new life after previous errors of not going far enough. It just seems like a cheap way to do it, rewriting history. When I look for good science fiction, I usually look to the future.