So writing a blog review about a movie is out of the ordinary for Make It Loud, but our owner, John Lehmberg (me!) has always loved the thing, and lots are people are asking me what I think-- so here it is, my review.
I know that many are going to want to see the movie without spoiling the ending, or talking about specifics, so I will keep my spoilers to the end, and will warn you when they're about to come.
Let me start by saying this... I LOVE the genre of Star Trek and love most sci fi movies, and even the Star Trek movies that aren't so great I have come to appreciate. I've loved most of the shows, with the exception of DS9 and Enterprise.
This movie had to be good, and it was good, but it wasn't great. The first half of the movie, I rather enjoyed. It moves along well, although the dialog, the first time I saw the movie, seemed a little bit "forced" but was engaging, and honoring of the heart of Star Trek. There are LOTS of laughs along the way, and the movie balances the serious/tender/and comical moments very well.
The second half of the movie I had problems with for several reasons, but primarily, instead of choosing to do something NEW with the cast, they chose to re-do an old plot from an original cast StarTrek television show. Yes, they have a new timeline, and things fall out differently, but what's the use of a new timeline if you don't have a new plot? And they don't. This seriously disappointed me. So the second half of the movie fails, although adventure filled. There are no surprises, and the movie ending is rather predictable, but enjoyable. The villian is rather aggressive, in an almost terrorist kind of way and it's good to see Kirk and Star Fleet have to deal with these issues.
Because the movie relies so heavily on a prior trek-knowledgy, I would say that this particular movie-- believe it or not-- would be better enjoyed by someone who is not a Trek fan and who hasn't seen much of the movies or shows. So if you're a "newb" to Star Trek, or you've only seen the last movie, you might really enjoy this movie MORE than someone who hasn't seen any of the others, so this movie was made for you.
The movie tackles lots of issues well and with emotional depth-- death, feeling, friendship, emotion, father issues, humility, successes, and failures-- all in the 2 hours you will sit in front of it, and by and large, it's all emotionally appropriate without making the movie too heavy, too funny, too somber, or too tongue in cheek.
One thing is also for sure, this movie won't keep you bored. It moves along so well, it seems like the action is non-stop. Chris Pine described the movie as "relentless" and it really is-- the action never stops, right up to the final 5 minutes. On the whole, the movie honors Trek "cannon" well, although it's a reach to watch some stuff rehashed before, and not as well.
Other than that, I take issue with one other thing, as I did with Ironman 3. You never see our champion at his best, in the entire movie. In Ironman 3, Tony Stark wasn't in the suit but 15 minutes of the whole movie. I wanted him to be Ironman, and hardly got a chance to see him be Ironman in the last installment, and honestly, the chick wins the day in that movie. Likewise here, you never see Kirk at his best. What takes place around him is a plot that makes him win with reasonable dumb luck, and Uhuru gets a shining moment with the villain as well that uses her character well. In fact, I don't think the Enterprise fires a single weapon the entire movie, despite the fact that she gets her butt handed to her (as you all have seen in the trailers).
The other thing I'd say, however, is that the movie is eye candy. The cinematography is awesome. The effects are top notch, and I've never seen a movie that uses 3D so well. In most movies I've seen, the 3D seems like an afterthought-- it seems awkward and forced. One image is 3D with the rest still in 2D and it just doesn't look right. In Star Trek ID you see 3D integration at it's best. It was so good that I'd still like to see it in Imax before it departs.
The casting in the movie is also amazing-- so good that you don't miss the original cast members from the 60's despite their being iconic and typecast to their roles. Simon Pegg covered Scotty better in this movie, and I thought channeled Jimmy Doohan's version of the grumpy yet funny engineer from the original series, and Karl Urban WAS DeForest Kelley's portayal of McCoy in this iteration of Star Trek. The rest, including Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana also cover their roles extremely well. Sulu has a great moment in the movie, but Chekov's character is relatively lost and he has almost no screen time.
So overall, I give it a 7 out of 10. Enjoyable, definitely worth seeing, but the plot could be better, and could have used a completely original story. Definitely good enough to see another installment of the franchise.
SPOILERS FOLLOW: If you don't want details, don't read further.
Now about the plot.... right from the beginning the movie channels Star Trek 3-4 where Kirk violates orders (the Prime Directive) to save Spock's life. And as with ST4, Kirk is demoted, although briefly, to Commander and Captain Pike's first officer. The villian in this movie is good, but it's Khan. I'd read almost anything I could about this movie before I saw it, so that wasn't necessarily a surprise to me, but because the story with Khan was so different, it almost seemed out of character for a Khan/Kirk story. Even having been prepared for it being Khan didn't help. It felt awkward. I so wish they hadn't chosen Khan as the new villian. I thought to myself, "really? they're already out of ideas so much that they're redoing a plot they've already done?" Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan was easily the best of the original ST movies, and redoing some of the scenes from that iconic and great movie, was also a serious mistake. If you love Trek, you think to yourself, "I've seen this before" when you see it, and it doesn't feel so familiar as it does "poorly executed." There are a few scenes from the movie that are literally ripped WORD FOR WORD from ST2: TWOK. In particular was the death scene from ST2: TWOK where Spock dies is renacted with a little twist, but the twist doesn't work, and the scene doesn't work emotionally like it did in the original. And to hear young Spock utter Shatner's iconic phrase "KHAAAAANNNN".... from the original movie was simply painful. I think I might have even been able to handle the Kirk dying behind the glass scene if it hadn't been for that phrase. I was literally rolling my eyes when that happened.
The movie plot itself is not so much a re-enactment of ST2, but a re-do of the "Space Seed" plot which was the original series ST TV show where we first encountered Khan, and ST2 was the sequel to that show. However, the scenes from ST2 are pulled in, and the movie makes a reasonably feeble attempt to honor that which they just should have left alone. One nice thing is a cameo by Leonard Nimoy playing old Spock on New Vulcan, giving advice to his younger self. The scene plays well, and it was a great scene for those of us who are old school ST fans. It also did not feel forced to have him play a small advisory role in the story.
So that's my beef. The story was predictable. The effects were good, and the movie is good, it's just not great. I wanted it to be great. I did like it better the second time I saw it. Seeing the young cast do the old scenes, and poorly so, was too much of an emotional shock the first time through. The second time through I found it a more enjoyable experience, which is why I think that being a Star Trek fan is actually a liability when seeing this movie. I hope you enjoy it. I did, but I think I wanted something competely fresh, and this really wasn't.
In the end, Kirk and crew head off on their 5 year mission. I'm looking forward to that, although I hope it's not another 4 years until the next installment, or they will be pirating from Star Trek 6 next time, which shows the retirement of Kirk because Chris Pine will be old when it comes out.
It's almost ironic-- I think they relied so heavily on Star Trek 2 in this movie to honor the fans, but in reality, because the newer iterations of the same scenes were just hard to embrace, being a Star Trek fan was really more a liability. Crazy.
One last thought-- the tiny Tribble finally gets his day in this movie, and actually winds up being a hero. I won't spoil it for you, but be on the lookout for the heroic Tribble! #heroictribble
My favorite line from the movie, Kirk: "Never trust a Vulcan."
TL:DR- John was a little disappointed with this Star Trek movie. He LOVED LOVED LOVED the last one, so the bar was high. He thought the new cast was awesome, and they're just as effective in this movie, but the script is not as good. Special effects are amazing, and it is the best movie I've ever seen with 3D integration. The plot, particularly in the last half of the movie steals too heavily from prior movies, and was not covered as well, so my opinion is that if you have seen prior ST movies, you might be disappointed. If you haven't, the action is good, it's adventurous, and moves along pretty rapidly. You won't be bored. John gives it a 7 out of 10.