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Friday, May 15, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek (Why It Sucks and Why Abrams Needs to Stop)

I've never been a huge Star Trek fan. I like Star Trek and have seen most of the movies and quite a bit of the television shows, but I've always been more into Star Wars because I grew up with it1. That said, what I have always liked about Star Trek is that it pushes the boundaries of the real while also trying not to be too, well, out there, with some exceptions, of course. I had high hopes for the new Star Trek. As soon as I knew it was going to be made, I couldn't help but be excited. From the mysterious nature of its initial exposure to the public to its handful of flashy trailers, Star Trek had been shaping up to be something truly special.

But then J. J. Abrams got his hands on the new Star Trek. I don't know how this craptastic of a movie-maker managed to wrap his slimy little fingers around one of the greatest science fiction franchises in history (rivaled only by Star Wars), but he did and now we're stuck with a movie that is, unfortunately, a crapfest. I know that Abrams has been behind it for a while--well before the trailers and the website--but I had been under the illusion that someone else was directing this film, that it was in capable of hands. And I even went into this movie setting aside all my hatreds for Abrams2, hoping that maybe he'd redeem himself by providing a well-rounded, damn good flick that captured much of the magic of the original series. But no. Not even close. (Spoilers ahead...)
The new Star Trek begins with a bang. Some Romulan miner from the future named Nero is pissed off because his home planet has been/will be destroyed by a supernova. He blames Spock and the Federation for letting his people be eradicated and decides to go back in time to exact his revenge. Back home, after Nero destroys a federation ship and Kirk's baby form escapes, grown up Kirk gets prompted on a dare to join Starfleet and be all he can be and other such ridiculousness. Nero attacks Vulcan, and hi jinks ensue.

That's the basic gist of the story, and certainly the first half of the movie is worthy of the Star Trek title. But that's when everything falls apart. What was already a time-laden plot line becomes convoluted with absurdities that expose a gaping hole of amateur writing and directing. It was easy enough to accept one time traveling character, because Nero is essentially the central conflict of the story, but when you decide to have two time traveling characters, one of which literally has no business being there at all other than to provide a pointless, meaningless sidetrack for Kirk to follow, you're flirting with the edges of continuity. In fact, the second time traveling character has no purpose being in this movie other than to provide the writers/directors an easy out, a way of getting past the difficult hole they dug themselves into by making Spock and Kirk practically sworn enemies, to shove in a character who probably should have been there earlier, and a way of inserting Leonard Nemoy into the movie so he can go off on a big flashback where he tells us everything. And I do mean this literally that after the halfway mark the plot of Star Trek becomes less about furthering the story and more about finding ways to dig oneself out of a hole with cheap tricks and illogical idiocies that make one wonder whether there was any point at all to the whole thing.

The absurdities, however, do not end there. The directing/editing for the film is absolutely wretched, with entire subplots being inserted in hamfisted glory into the narrative, with no clear reason for them to be there. Uhura, thus, is the most pointless character in the film, which is sad considering she is also the only significant female character in it. We're supposed to accept at face value that Spock and Uhura are an item, but we never understand where it comes from or whether it existed before Kirk met Uhura. In fact, we don't know anything about this relationship, yet it's shoved into our view as something that should be taken seriously as part of the rivalry between Spock and Kirk. Uhura thus becomes nothing more than another item for Abrams to dangle over us to fulfil some other plot line as if to whore out Uhura to the whims of continuity.

In addition to the ridiculousness of the plot, the cast is a mixed bag for a movie that's supposed to be reviving the greatness of Star Trek. While Scotty, McCoy, and Spock are perfectly cast, the remaining classic Star Trek characters are mediocre at best. Uhura is utterly pointless; the fellow who plays Chekov manages to turn the character into a comedic farce a la Epic/Scary/etc. Movie; Sulu lacks some of the original charm of the character; and Kirk, worst of all, is not even Kirk at all, but an absurdly arrogant delinquent who fails to fit into the shoes once worn by Shatner. I understand trying to upgrade the characters, but this is clearly the wrong direction. Kirk never hits his stride in this new incarnation; in fact, there is almost no growth for Kirk, except that he befriends Spock in the end, but only because Abrams inexpertly inserted future Spock to make it happen. What a great way to try to develop a character by essentially cheating and telling us that there's no reason for Star Trek to remain true to its form, because one can simply fabricate a time traveling elf at will to manipulate other characters into doing the will of the directorial gods.

Other issues I had with the film are primarily nitpicks. I appreciated the re-imagined Enterprise and the upgrading of the look of the Federation, but I had issues with other designs in the film. The Romulan mining vessel, while certainly cool and evil looking, made little sense as far as its functionality is concerned. Considering that Abrams kept the look of the Federation relatively intact (the Enterprise still looks like the Enterprise), it seems somewhat ridiculous that he would shift the visual focus of the Romulans so incredibly for Nero's ship. Looking back, you can't logically make a connection between future Romulan and past Romulan, even though the time spanning between them is relatively negligible3. My other issue is one I think fans are right to throw a fit about: Why is the Enterprise being built on the ground? Not only does that make absolutely no sense logically, but it doesn't fit into the Star Trek universe at all. First off, building a ship of that size on the ground and then trying to get it into space would not only require ridiculous amounts of energy, but would actually be counterproductive when one considers that it would simply be easier to build it in space. Second, we've seen the Enterprise built in space before, if I recall correctly, which leads me to assume that, again, this is just a ploy by Abrams to give us a special scene that changes Kirk--that scene being one in which he makes the decision to actually join Starfleet and become a captain of his own ship.

After all the negativity in this post, I suppose it would be fair to say that there were a few things that I did enjoy. The first half of the movie was excellent, in my opinion, with exception to the destruction of Vulcan, which I thought was incredibly damaging to the Star Trek universe considering the prominence of Vulcans as a species. I also found the comedic points rather delightful, particularly Quinto's Spock and his interactions with Kirk. Visually, the film is stimulating, with a few borderline elements that seemed too much like Star Wars to be fitting, but that's more nitpicking on my part. Overall, I would say that Star Trek was okay. Nothing special, not worth the ten dollars I paid to see it, but maybe good enough for those with lower standards in films than myself. I expected too much of this movie, and was shorthanded. If you really want to see this movie, wait for it to come out on DVD and rent it. It's worth seeing for three dollars, but not worth a full price movie ticket.

Direction: 1/5
Cast: 2/5
Writing: 1/5
Visuals: 4/5
Adaptation: 1.5/5
Overall: 1.9/5

1. My mother let me watch the original series on tape when I was seven or eight and I've never looked back.
2. I have never liked J. J. Abrams. Lost is certainly one of the worst television shows ever made, with its pointlessly overly complicated narrative and its ridiculous premise that takes itself far too serious--Gilligan's Island at least had the forsight to recognize the stupidity of its basic plot, and thus inserted comedic flare in exchange for serious diversions into weird explanations for why they ended up there without being found for a heck of a long time. Then there was Cloverfield, which basically bent all monster movies over and rammed it home with the ferocity of a jealous Orangutan. And don't get me started on Chug, Chud, Hud, Hub, Hug, or whatever his name was, who we had to deal with for most of that movie, despite his being one of the most annoying characters in the history of films. The only good thing to come out of Abrams is Armageddon, and I think that we should acknowledge that as a fluke, with everything that followed it being part of a legacy that would rival M. Night Shyamalan's lackluster career.
3. You can actually trace the evolution of the Enterprise throughout the Star Trek franchise, and it never really changes. True, it's look adjust and becomes sleeker or bulkier, but the Enterprise is still recognizable as the Enterprise, no matter which movie or series you watch. This is contrary to what Abrams has done with this movie, taking all the original Romulan designs and tossing them out the door to make something cool looking, but disconnected not only from any sort of logical reality, but from the historiofuturic universe of Star Trek.

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  1. Jimmy0d2:34 AM

    Your review would be more informative if you pointed out what you considered idiocies, what you found illogical, and what was amateurish.

    I thought the spock sub-plot fitted neatly into the overall story. He had to be there for the red-matter which was the true deus-ex-machina.

    I agree that kirk didn't grow too much as a character but I think he was a great ba childhood teen kirk. He wasn't meant to be the exact same kirk. He maintains Kirk's bravado, passion, and overconfidence but it is not tempered with experience or a sound childhood.

    I agree that the Spock-Uhura thing was just inserted in there but I don't see where she was used as a source of rivalry between kirk and spock.

    I think you are way off on the matter of ship design. I think it was poorly designed in general but you are basing your opinion off of the design of romulan warships. It's a mining ship not a war ship, there is no reason why it would follow the same design philosophy of romulan warships (which range from a vaguely bird like disc and exact replicas of klingon battlcruisers in TOS to odd hollowed out vultures in TNG). Your logic doesn't follow.

  2. I did point out what were idiocies, illogical moments, and amateur incidents. You cite a couple of them.

    And I'm not way off on the ship designs since your comment on that actually supports me. The fact that their ships vary only in being somewhat like ships created by other species in the ST universe indicates that there's no logical reason for the mining ship to look like that. It has no purpose in being so insanely ridiculous. The only reason it is like that in the movie is to give the impression of something terrifying and evil looking, to automatically label the people in that ship as wicked beings. We don't have the opportunity to feel anything for Nero, for his suffering, because already he has been injected into the viewer's consciousness as the bad guy.

    Why did Spock have to be there for the red matter? It could have been anyone else. Why Spock? And why Future Spock? Why couldn't they have written a plotline that didn't require the convoluted stupidity of time travel narratives that made little sense, which disrupt everything that might be and make any discussion of possible futures pointless since anyone can up and change things by flipping a button?

  3. I think their hope was that having the real Spock actor in the movie would add legitimacy to the prequel.

    Having said that, I did enjoy the movie immensely, though I've never watched the original series.

  4. I have no doubt that's why they put him in there. But it was still stupid.

  5. Anonymous4:01 PM

    This review is a joke right?

  6. Nope, it's entirely serious. Didn't like the movie.

  7. Anonymous4:14 PM

    SMD thanks for taking everyone's response and shooting them down and calling them stupid. Bloggers so intelligent and worldly as yourself should surely be reviewing and expressing opinions expertly without patronization

  8. Mmm, so apparently defending my position is shooting people down? Interesting.

    And yes, people like me should be reviewing and expressing our opinions.

    And I see no patronization occurring in any of my responses. I see reiteration, clarification, and argumentation. If those are marks of condescension, then I guess I'm a condescending bastard, and so are most people. And I'll proudly hold up that mantle. I'm not going to sit here and pander to the masses who like the movie. I'm expressing MY opinion and if you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. I don't think you should be forced to agree with me at all. But if you argue with me, then I have every right to defend my position by arguing right back. That's all I'm doing.


  9. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Im just saying that you are talking down to us and still are with this "I am right no matter what, everyone else is an idiot" mentality. But i guess as chief blogger, that is your duty, to control the masses and make sure that everything you say is as controversial and polar as possible. You are clearly well informed and a talented writer, but you opinion matters as much as ours does.

  10. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Anon: You're fighting a losing battle, you'd be wise to give up now before you waste anymore of your time on it.

    And I'm only posting here so you don't think Anon is me.

  11. Anon: If I gave you the impression that your opinion doesn't matter, that was not my intent. I don't have to agree with you for your thoughts on the issue to be important. If anything, discussing the subject, even in argumentative form, is extremely useful, particularly on the Internet where most arguments are paired down to the kinds of illiterate nonsense you find on YouTube (why that has become a common and acceptable form of argumentative discourse is beyond me, but so be it).

    If you don't agree with me, that's fine. I don't see how I was being condescending by arguing back with Jimmy (is that you? Not sure). This shouldn't discourage you from posting here, I'm just not the kind of blogger who will take your opinion and pat you on the back for it, especially if I disagree. We get nowhere on the Internet by just accepting every opinion at face value and not arguing over things we disagree with. Such inactivity is how we end up with websites like Wikipedia, which are gold mines for misinformation that are so readily accepted in society as legitimate sources of information it's not even astonishing anymore to think that people like Michelle Bachmann (Minnesota senator/congresswoman or some such) would have no clue whatsoever about the important details of U.S. history.

    So, if I came off in a manner that told you that your opinion doesn't matter, then I apologize. That was not my intent. I'm simply a fierce debater and will jump on opposition like a kitten on a full grown cat (I saw this recently and it was quite a funny and violent thing).

    Ellira: I didn't think it was you. I knew it wasn't you because I check my sitemeter to see where folks visit...and Anon certainly was not in your area.

  12. Jimmy0d8:35 PM

    No, I'm not anonymous. I just don't have a google account or even a blog anymore (used to have a political blog but decided I'd rather swim naked with piranhas).

    I think your comment about the nature of the ship here is much better than in the review. You really explain why it shallow decision. However I still don't accept your design nitpick. I don't see any reason why a romulan mining vessel would need to have any design continuity with past Romulan warships.

    I think you should provide more detail like why do you think spock shouldn't be there? It's obviously a tale of an alternate history of the star trek universe. With spock there it goes from an off-kilter reboot to a sui generis re-imagining. He's there to highlight the fact that this is not the canon universe, it's a new one. So it makes sense for alternate-spock to be more emotional and it makes sense for alternate-kirk to be more reckless compared to what we all know and love.

    I agree that they went about introducing spock strangley and shoving Scott in there but I think you also need spock there because otherwise there would be no reason why this super weapon ship that just waylaid an entire fleet would spare the enterprise. They wanted to make alternate-spock watch the destruciton of his homeworld.

    On a side note I can see how some might take your tone as hostile though I don't. Also I disagree when you say that the comments are "he's mean to ST". If the comments were simply defending genre conventions then they would be sayign that of course there is an unneccesarily convuluted plot involving time travel, it's Star Trek. ;)

  13. Can you explain to me what functionality the design of the ship has? Why does it look the way it does? We get a clear understanding why ships in the Federation look the way they do (they're, in some ways, an extrapolation upon the technology we see today, even if that wasn't so back when it was first invented, which likely hints at the influence of Star Trek on the space industry). The look of the mining ship simply doesn't make sense. It has all these spike things sticking out of it and we're supposed to accept that as just the way it is, but when you compare it to the Romulan ship designs we've seen before, it sticks out literally like a ridiculously sore thumb and the logic behind its design essentially doesn't exist. I see no reason why a Romulan mining vessel has to look like that. At all. It could look like a thousand others things and seem more like a functional machine than what was portrayed in the movie. The way it looks now indicates to me that Abrams wanted a really badass looking ship to terrorize the galaxy. And fine, if this was Star Wars or a totally new science fiction series, I would accept that, but against the history of Star Trek, especially considering that the alternate history Abrams is trying to create doesn't exist for Nero, it simply makes little sense and disrupts the continuity of Nero's reality.

    On another note, if we have learned anything from our own species, we know that we like familiar things. Hence why most jet fighters look the same (mostly because they function best in that form) and why there are similarities in our spacecraft, even though such craft are designed by all sorts of countries with sometimes radically different cultures. So, for Nero's ship to be as radically different from other Romulan vessels, to literally be so outside of the norm, one of two things would have to have happened: a) Abrams is intentionally changing all Romulan designs in his alternate vision of Star Trek (which I think is ridiculous anyway) or b) Nero comes from a time so far advanced from the present we are given w/ Kirk and young Spock, that designs have so drastically changed to be almost unrecognizable (which doesn't seem logical considering that future Spock is from the same time).

  14. I'll go into the future Spock stuff later. Too tired right now :P.

  15. Gavin Hunter10:36 PM

    You hit this right on the money with your review. I am a sci-fi fan pure and simple. I liked the original star trek. I loved the next gen star trek. I was born to love Star Wars orig. trilogy. I was disappointed (even saddened) by SW prequel. Lord of the Rings best Sci-Fi series written to date even though I was never a fan (those are my credentials). That being said this new Star Trek flat out punched me in the stomach. The movie started off with a bang and the previews were full of eye candy. 40 minutes into the movie and I was nervous that they could recover the character development. I figured the time travel was going to mesh neatly into the original series and the writers would effortlessly save the day, yet it was painfully revealed that the writers had painted themselves into a corner after Vulcan was destroyed and the story would suffer from blasphemous story plot (Uhura plus Spock equals disgust.) With 30 minutes left, and all characters revealed I knew that It would be impossible to justify a great Captain Kirk, impossible to believe that a solid camaraderie existed in the seeds of a new crew, that order could be restored within the star trek universe after the time travel blunder and that the hope to adore the possibilities of a bold star fleet federation in the final 30 minutes before the credits rolled would manifest gloriously. Major Disappointment almost to the point of outright protest.

    Before this movie, I paid little to no attention to JJ Abrams; now I am painfully aware of his short-sightedness in plot development. I felt cheated, they should have warned us in the title: Star Trek Origins, the Alternate Universe. I hope that Terminator Salvation Saves the Summer with sci-fi plot development. The Star Trek Franchise is a bust.

  16. "I think you should provide more detail like why do you think spock shouldn't be there? It's obviously a tale of an alternate history of the star trek universe. With spock there it goes from an off-kilter reboot to a sui generis re-imagining. He's there to highlight the fact that this is not the canon universe, it's a new one. So it makes sense for alternate-spock to be more emotional and it makes sense for alternate-kirk to be more reckless compared to what we all know and love."

    If the filmmakers had prefaced the film with what you've said above, that this is not a re-imagining of classic Star Trek, but an alternate history Star Trek, I never would have gone to see it. I would have saved my $10 and spent it on ice cream or, more likely, a book. But everything about this Star Trek, from the trailers to the hype to the discussions, have hinted that this would be a revamping of a franchise, not a complete bastardization of the form. If they had said "well, we're working with an alternate history here" I would have said "Okay, then you're not getting my money." And then this post never would have been and I would be talking about something else.

    And future Spock was far too convenient. Not to mention, why exactly does his ship have a HUGE thing of red matter? Why? What is the purpose of that? If one drop of the stuff can eat a planet, and he's on a peaceful mission, why would you fill the ship with enough red matter to eat up the entire Federation? Because it makes using Nero as the bad guy all too easy. More hamfisted crap. And don't get me started on the whole "supernova eats the galaxy" thing.

    Gavin: Agreed, except Lord of the Rings is fantasy, not science fiction. Anywho!

  17. The ironic thing I am finding is that the non-Trekkies are going to the mat to defend this new Trek movie as if it is almost sacred to them.

    What is even more amazing is that some of my friends really like the new Trek despite the fact that they were around for all of the previous trek(s).

    I really don't understand what exactly people like about this movie. The space battles were cut too fast and had too much crap going on to make out anything, and the story was illogical.

    Now I read that they are going to screw up "Khan" next.

  18. Yeah, I heard about them talking about Kahn as a possibility, but I think it's sort of stupid to try to do a Kahn story in a completely alternate universe. In the original, Kahn had a presence in the TV show, so his re-emergence made sense as being pre-established. I won't be seeing the new movie, though, so it doesn't matter to me. I won't see anything else Abrams does.

  19. Anonymous8:40 PM

    EXCELLENT REVIEW!! I hated this movie. I was extremely disappointed, and thought that I alone had this sentiment (based on all the other reviews I've read thus far). Unfortunately (for me I guess), I've been a fan of Trek for decades, and I've watched every show and every movie. And while I'll admit that some of movies probably shouldn't have been made, they at least maintained the Star Trek canon.

    This new movie is a departure in so many ways, it's appropriate to call this a new beginning. It has severed ties with everything that original Trekkies would recognize. Well, at least the new generations have something to start with.

    Again, GREAT REVIEW. This movie sucks!!

  20. Thanks Anon. I was not at all a fan of the alternate universe thing, so I agree with you entirely. You could have rebooted the series with departing so much.

  21. S.D.M. thanks for your review I too was totally disappointed with the movie. OK I can see new Kirk being a different man in the new time line with the new event of his fathers death. but yet how they played on his original history as a ladies man reminded me of the character development from Animal House only less believable what a joke...but I did find the green cadet kind hot LOL. And did anyone get the feeling this Kirk seemed was a recycled Maverick from Top Gun with him riding up to the naval yard er space yard on his cycle I was almost waiting for a scene with him singing karaoke to Uhura

  22. stephen: I didn't get the Top Gun feel until you just mentioned it. Kind of strange :S.

  23. Anonymous8:58 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Just a quick comment about you 'growing up' with Star Wars.

    Err, yeah ... we were all twelve at one stage. Most boys of the 80's growing up in the western world loved star wars

    ... most grew out of it, and even die-hards now cringe at the shameless endorsements and kiddy story-lines

  25. Anon: Yeah, but I still love Star Wars. :P.

  26. Anonymous6:05 PM

    Yeah the movie was pretty bad, your post had alot of nice points.

    I was a big fan of Star Trek but not anymore. When I watch the old movies or series in the back of my mind I think........................ This future never happened so these movies are now pointless.

    This movie might be ok for people who don't know anything about Star Trek, or have never watched anything from Star Trek.

  27. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Keep in mind that this is not an alternate universe or reality. The time line was changed so the future of existing Star Trek was changed too. This is now the only reality.

    The fact that Nero destroyed Vulcan is proof that this was just time travel. Why would he destroy Vulcan in an alternate universe if the origional would not be changed. That would accomplish nothing for him.

  28. Anon: Yeah, I agree. It just sort of ruined things for me.

    Anon (the second one): I understand that the universe is irreversible changed now, but I still think it's absolutely stupid.

  29. Jeckel10:44 PM

    Finally, someone with an actual opinion about the movie. Everywhere I look I see a line like this starting people comments on the movie:

    "I've never been a trek fan, but this movie was great from the first action scene to the end."

    That is the dumbest thing you can say, why should none Trek fans like a Trek movie? I don't like Heroes, Battle Star Galatica, Lost, or Sex in the City and I wouldn't expect to like their movies.

    I will admit the as soon as I heard they were making a new Trek with new actors, some primal part of me naturally didn't want to like it, but I managed to keep an open mind about it.

    I heard that JJ Dumbass was directing (Lost is the most rediculas show on tv, I mean a polar bear on a deserted tropical island.. really...) and still, I thought, "No, it will be alright, a new Trek will just be cool."

    Then they said it wasn't going to be my "father's" Trek. I don't know what that means, but I assumed it would just mean better CG and sets.

    I even saw Lenard Nemoy on SNL and he said that dimissing the new movie out of hand made you a dick, so fine Spock, I'll give it a chance.

    So here I am, surfing the net, reading reviews, getting more and more worried as all the now Trek fans love the movie and all the Trek fans seem to dislike it. What is tells me is that it may be a great Sci Fi movie, but it is a poor continuasion of a Sci Fi Franchise.

    What JJ Abrams basicly just told all us Trek fans, ".. and then the characters wake up and all the movies, shows, and books that came before where just a dream."

    They could have made the exact same movie, but with different names, called it Star Voyage or somthing, and I'm sure I would be on the net touting it as a great movie.

    But they didn't. They used Star Trek names and Star Trek places, that gave them a responsibility to live up to the canon of that world.

    But they got what they wanted. JJ Douchebag got to laugh at shovleing another piece of crap onto the viewing public and Paramount got the money that a movie call Star Trek would naturally bring.

    This movie will go down as one of the biggest RetCon disasters of all time.

  30. Jeckel: That's really good way to put it. I agree 100%. I was never a big ST fan, but I have a lot of respect for the canon.

  31. I don't get it. Why don't you reorder things in your mind to accept that there are two universes, the original one, and the one created by the new movie? I don't feel like the movie cancels out or destroys anything that's canon. It just adds to it by creating a separate timeline for them to play with. I think I would've been annoyed (even though I'm not a fan) if it turned out it was all "just a dream" ... but the situation here is different. I get the impression that the timeline trick gives them the freedom to do whatever they want with this new timeline while affecting/changing very little of the original universe.

    Maybe it's because we have a different understanding of time, but to me, the original universe is not destroyed. There are two realities, and you can choose to tell stories in one or the other or both.

  32. Carr: The problem is that they've now set the precedent that for every moment in which they have written themselves into a hole they can simply toss in a time traveling elf to change the course of time. There's literally no incentive to watch the show, because there's no conflict. If the evil badguy comes all you have to do is go back in time and kill him before he is born, or go back in time thirteen minutes and stop him from coming forward in time, yadda yadda.

    It's just ridiculous.

  33. No, because they have yet to control time travel. All the characters know right now is that it can happen.

    Now your complaints would make more sense if they did degenerate to that level and use time travel as a deus ex machina, but they have yet to do that. The possibility that they /could/ do it is not enough to make me think this spin-off sucks, because in the same vein, JJ Abrams /could/ do a million other things that would equally make the next movie suck.

  34. "Now your complaints would make more sense if they did degenerate to that level and use time travel as a deus ex machina, but they have yet to do that."

    The problem is that J. J. Abrams did this. He set the precedent for basically tossing time traveling elves into the mix whenever you're in a bind in the story. There's no reason to ever be concerned about the conflict in these stories when something can be so easily avoided by Abram half-assing it. This is a writing problem.

  35. What, did he do it in a different movie?

  36. No, he did it in this one and it was hamfisted. It's now too easy to simply say "well, things aren't working, let's just use time travel to get the characters out of a bind and reset everything." That's stupid. It basically means that Abrams never has to actually write a decent story in a universe, because he can just randomly change things at will to get out of a bind...

  37. -blink- Where did he do it in this movie? The time travel jumpstarted the plot, but it didn't resolve the plot.

  38. Umm, right in the middle of the movie when Kirk gets dropped on that snow planet...right there. What a wonderful way of saying "well, hey, here's an easy way to insert Scotty...let's use Future Spock."

    That was pretty much the point that killed the movie for me. Before that I was okay...

  39. Yes, you are correct this movie sucked. For all the reasons you listed and more. You actually liked watching it longer than I did. It was pretty much in the can for me when little boy kirk drove the corvette off the cliff, and it just got worse from there.

    The characters and actors were fine, but the story was rediculous. I don't consider this as part of Star Trek history and will when talking about the Star Trek universe, I will pretend it doesn't even exist.

  40. I don't know if I can ignore this movie in the franchise, unfortunately. It's sort of burned itself into my brain and destroyed everything I actually liked about ST.

  41. I just saw this ridiculous attempy of a Star Trek movie. I hate it. I want to wring the necks of the writers, director and producer. It changed too much of everything about Star Trek. I wouldn't mind them writing about a life of the TOS generation at a young age that'll fit in the the known historryof Star Trek. But all of the changes don't mesh with the known Star Trek universe. The technology, ships, uniform and character personality a way off... I've been a Trekkie since I was a little kid, this is an insult to Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry and us hardcore Trekkies....

  42. Kevin: Glad we agree!

  43. Anonymous10:23 PM

    I have to say one thing about this Review, and that is.

    I agree with it completely, but am still suprised you didnt touch base on the lense flares. those annoying lense flares that just made me cringe when they were in space. so space is nothing but lense flares?

  44. I guess the lens flares didn't but me all that much.

  45. I fail to see how anyone calling themselves a fan of the Star Trek franchise could like, let alone find acceptable, this latest incarnation. It is nothing short of an abomination. It cruelly drives a hot knife into the very heart of Star Trek.

    The first half of this film as has been mentioned was decent and I did enjoy that segment to some extent however much I felt that some of the essence of what made a Star Trek film "Star Trek" seemed to be missing. The film however showed its true intent with the destruction of Vulcan. My heart sank with the act and my focus drifted for the remainder of the film to but the hope that they would reverse this stupidity with some unforeseeable technique to restore the ST universe which took half a century to create.

    But I was literally left with my mouth hanging open by the credits. In those last few scenes it tried so hard to be epic. With "young" Spock dashing through space in his vessel to the timely arrival of Enterprise to blast a path for him to Nero's vessel. But I took not one measure of joy from it because the universe before me was no longer the one I knew.

    Now I am not going to sit here and say that past ST films and series are perfect. Each has its flaws and some are better than others but they at least knew(and forgive me) to not go boldy where no man should ever go. You overwrite decades of history just so you can reboot a series. You spit in the face of Star Trek fans so you can suck in the common viewer. Such absolute cheek I have never before witnessed in all my days.

    I just can't comprehend how anyone can fail so completely.

    The space battles felt more like Star Wars than Star Trek and I didn't appreciate the core of the ship looking like an industrial factory but I would have digested all of this if only the core story of the film retained loyalty to the franchise. ST is based on rules but what this film has shown is its purposeful disregard for those rules. It's sci-fi yes, but if you aren't going to make it a ST movie then why bother with the whole thing let alone call it Star Trek at all. The Blond Bond syndrome (failed analogy?you decide).

    The initial space battle left me very unimpressed and I almost wrote the film off then and there but I made myself keep an open mind. Others have stated poor plot devices and character developments in previous posts and I agree with most of them but they are but pale shadows to the monstrosity at the core of this blatant violation of common decency.

    I am trying my very best to forget that I have even seen this film. Star Trek has attracted its fair share of terrible writers in the past. I thought I had seen the worst of such failure. I was wrong.

  46. My answer to all your questions is: J. J. Abrams. The guy is not a good director/writer/etc. Never has been.

  47. Anonymous5:17 AM

    I just rented this movie and I agree with your opinion %100. Let's see, future Spock is dropped off on a planet that he knows has a Federation based but instead of going there he hides in a ice cave?!?! It would have been A LOT more plausible for Captn' Jerk to run into Spock chilling at Scottie's crib instead of some random cave.

    As for the Red matter (a play on Red Mercury no doubt) why do you need to carry around a million times more of it that you need to do the job? If a BB sized drop of the stuff can suck up a galaxy destroying super nova what happens when you pop the cork on a bathtub full of it? You can be damn sure the warp core and antimater/matter pods out of one measly starship isn't going to overwhelm that black hole.

    Even if it did anything powerful enough to rip the Enterprise out of the gravity well would blow it into dust The movie depicts them flying through a Blue plasma shock wave without much worry. Star Trek canon makes it clear that there is a minimum safe distance for warp core breaches (even with full shields). Being within the blue part of a plasma ball would do more damage than a direct hit from a Romulan plasma torpedo. Remember in the original series where they first ran into the Romulans? They didn't fly through those plasma balls and they were only red plasma which is less energetic than blue.

  48. Robbie: I don't know canon that well, but it wouldn't surprise me if Abrams broke every pre-established rule. The guy is a horrible movie-maker. He made a really crappy remake of Gilligan's Island without the jokes, a horrible attempt at a Godzilla-type movie, and some other crap I won't see because I don't want to die.

    So, yeah :P

  49. Anonymous1:59 AM

    JJ's Star Trek only leaves Enterprise as canon. Goodbye TOS,TNG,DS9,Voyager.

    JJ has really screwed himself when it comes to Trek, he now has to follow this alternative timeline until it eventually gets so stupid that even JJ fanboi's won't see it.

    There was a much better way to make this movie and JJ refused to listen. Focus on Captain Pike's career with the Enterprise instead of Kirk.

  50. I don't think Trek fans would have settled for a Captain Pike movie. They wanted the original crew. Abrams gave them that, but he did a terrible job of it.

  51. I totally agree with your review. I am a die hard Trekkie, I don't believe in the deviation from the Holy Trek Trinity (TOS, TNG, DS9)and DS9 is pushing it, really. Many devoted fans shared my WTF moment when Spock and Uhura were shown to be an "item" in this abomination. I have noted, that some people out there really try and reach for something that is just not there in canon to justify this.

    For example, I have read comments that claim Spock's disdain for the space mad Sulu grabbing Uhura in the TOS episode, "The Naked Time", was a glimpse of a probable connection between these two characters. Also noted, on the TOS episode, "Charlie X", some point out Uhura and Spock in the recreation room entertaining the crew with flirtatious singing, glances and Vulcan harp playing.

    Yes, I admit, those things are all there, but the substantiation of such a claim is not. We never see or hear of Spock and Uhura outside of a professional capacity. Ever. This aspect of this movie was possibly the most convoluted. Some genius took two of the most noteworthy and solid characters and made them into something that they simply are not. Spock and Uhura never "got down like that", and if this dude Abrams is going to mess with an epic like Trek, he needs to tell it right, stick to canon and not try and sell a raped classic with tacky shock tactics that plays out on screen more like sloppy fanfic with a budget.

    I'd also like to ask, what happened to Uhura's class? She was a classy lady in TOS, played by Nichelle Nichols. I have nothing against Zoe Saldana, but she's no Uhura. I'm sorry.

    Thank you for this review, I was beginning to feel alone in a sea of "Are you crazy? The new Star Trek rocks!!". I maintain that it absolutely does not rock. It sucks miserably. This movie is sacrilege to true Trek.

  52. G1: Abrams would justify it all by saying that this new movie is intentionally diversionary because of its use of time travel to change existing canon. I think it's lazy, but that's how he would say "see, I changed this one event and that made it so we could have a hackneyed attempt at romance between Spock and Uhura." The problem is that while such things work wonderfully in Back to the Future because they're ridiculous and fun, they don't work in Star Trek because the entire story for the new movie lacks coherence. It's just...nonsense.

  53. I've been a Trekkie for 30 years, but I can review this movie in one word: Crap.

    IMO, that's all you need to know about the movie, that's all the depth a review of this movie deserves.

    For those who insist on more detail, I'll say that it's an extravaganza of special effects, with no real plot, nothing that makes sense, and does not ring true to any Trek previously aired or printed.

    Trivial details aside, (like the Enterprise was commissioned when Kirk was only 17; and Kirk's first commission was the USS Farragut), the movie fails for me in several important ways.

    With just a little more thought, they could have duplicated "Star Trek: First Contact" and have Future Spock chasing the Romulan back in time to stop him from destroying the past. That would have worked better than having Future Spock there to make sure Past Spock and Past Kirk get along and become friends.

    It also made no sense for the Romulan to go back in time to destroy Spock, when the Romulan could have gone back in time to save Romulus, instead.

    But I think the killer for me was to destroy planet Vulcan. What about Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda? What about his brother, Sybock? Or T'Pring, Spock's wife? What about Tuvok from Voyager? He won't even be born now.

    Abrams should leave Star Trek alone. He's destroyed too much of the Federation already.

  54. Wes: I absolutely agree. He has ruined Star Trek. I've never been a trekkie, but I don't think I could be one now that the entire Star Trek universe no longer makes sense.

  55. I'm huge star trek fan. Was disappointed that I couldn't find the time to catch this flick in the cinema. Now I'm disappointed that I actually paid 5 bucks to rent it (comcast on demand). What a total disappointment.

    I agree with everything you said, but maybe you were too nice :)

  56. Tom: Oh, I probably was a little too nice. I've been thinking of being far more brutal in my reviews in the future.

  57. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I got soooooo bored watching this crap.

  58. I feel your pain.

  59. My god i aggree with your post 100%. So much that i dont even know where to begin..

    I never liked TOS but was a die hard fan of TNG, DS9, VOG, THE MOVIES, even Enterprise. This movie completely erased the timeline..

    The movie visually was great, and there is things I could have let slide for example:

    The enterprise being built when he was a teenager.

    The enterprise being built on land (even though all starfleet ships are built a Utopia Plantitia: sorry about the spelling)

    I could even let it slide that a mining ship can be so outfitted that it was a warship.

    But what i cannot let slide is:

    Kirk a fresh out of school cadet who cheated on his test automatically gets bumped up to first officer.

    Non of the fleet was guarding earth, head quarters of the federation.

    Non of the fleet was guarding Vulcan, a head planet in the federation.

    Uhora hooking up with spock.

    Chekov was a complete joke. made me cringe everythime he spoke.

    Spock coming back in time not to stop the destruction of his planet or fix the error in the timeline, but to make sure kirk and him become buddies.

    scotty happens to be on that ice planet.

    Nero has 150 years to prepare Romulus from being destroyed, but instead he decides to destroy the fed instead. AHH genius without the fed Romulus would be destroyed in the future either by the Borg or the Dominion. Or the Klingon's wouldn't be held back all those years and would have took over the alpha quadrant.

    Vulcan was destroyed. Making all previous movies and tv ep with vulcan in it irrelevant. Which in turn erases Commander Tuvok from the timeline since he was born on vulcan.

    I dont know how they are going redo Kahn since he had a prominent beef with Vulcan, not a planet that was made or founded for a bunch of Vulcan refugees.

    Why in the world are they flying around with gallons of red matter.. if it only takes a drop to cause a black whole.. if a real enemy got a whole of that, the galaxy would be in trouble.

    Im pretty sure in TOS timeline and before they had not yet made first contact with Cardassians, but Uhora ordered Cardassian ale at the bar.

    They made the Romuluns of the 24th century to be some evil looking orks with tattoos. But around that time Romulus has a some what uneasy peace treaty with the federation, and the Klingon to protect the alpha quadrant from outside treats. ie the dominion, the Borg.

    If their trying to escape a singularity why would they dump their warp core???.. They wouldn't have the speed to escape it, let alone the blast.

    Why is their a cannon in IOWA.

    Why would you leave your keys to a 1950's Corvette, which lasted 3 centuries a third world war, and the scrap yard, where a lil kid can take it up and drive it.

    Man there is soo much things to list that was wrong with this movie.

    If they wanted to revamp it they should have had a regular story line explaining how they came together.. They did not need to put time travel in it. Nemoy did not need to be in this movie. His whole purpose of this movie was to explain that the other time line and other shows is no longer relevant. Nemoy should be pissed that Abrams did this.

    What was the point of spoks mother dieing.. What was the point of this entire movie.

    Really when i think back about it, it was just so that Abrams could remake a franchise to make a few bucks.. Disregarding the fans.. Disregarding Gene R. Disregarding Rick B. Disregarding the movies, video games, and books. And just take a big shit on the time line/Universe of star trek.

    And to all the Trekkers who like this movie, please please go and watch TOS all the way to Voyager.. and then you will hate this movie with a passion.. Cause basically this movie erased 40 years of franchise, 200 years of story time line..

    JJ Abrams is an asshole. I for one will be boycotting any thing he is a part of.. One thing this movie has done for me is show me what he is about. eff him, eff his movies, and i hope he doesnt touch anything to do with any scifi show again.

  60. Alex: Amen. That's all I have to say to that.

  61. Anonymous11:12 PM

    Well I think having someone not into star trek critisize a star trek film is like having someone not into science fiction criticizing a scifi movie, a bit rediculous although I agree (as a huge star trek fan, yes ive seen every star trek show except takei's acting ensamble).

    The spock uruha thing was the thing that I did not cringe the most on, It was the music. At least star trek tng tv show capitolized on using the music to star trek 2(my favorite star trek), this should be the anthem to star trek in my opinion. I was hoping at least they would use maybe the classic fight music from the original tv show mixed with that, but the music to this, terminator salvation (and 3) and james bond stink so badly and producers wonder why franchises fail. Its also why star trek tng movies started to suck as with generations they started shooting off and not using thier original star trek 2 music.

    Music is 89% of a franchise and just as important as a character in it. I wish for the love of god they would return to great music that made franchises (where would jaws or psycho be without thier music=nowhere).

    I like the cast in this (specificaly quinto as spock was great as well as scotty and checkov) and didnt mind the story as I just sat cringing listening to the soundtrack, maybe its just me but I believe that you need to sequel great movies, not reboot/remake them (imagine watching star wars or superman without john williams score or raiders..wait we had that in crappy superman returns where williams music apears for 15 seconds).

    Music, music, music, then actors and directors and story. Its all about the music is something i wish directors would learn when making a movie (also why the tv show startrek classic was so great, it had great music despite crappy effects). I also hated that they went with pulse phasers instead of the straight phaser lasers that made star trek distinct and unique.

    A mediocre job, only because nimoy and quinto is in this can i even recommend this.

  62. Anon: Calling me a non-fan is a bit unfair. I'm not obsessed with Star Trek. I like the franchise (Voyager was my favorite ST show), but I don't devote my life to it.

    I disagree that the movie failed because of its music, though. The music is forgettable, yes, but there are more pressing issues with the story that drive the quality of the film into the ground.

  63. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Excellent blog. I would like to bring a few more things to your attention as to why the newest Star Trek movie sucked:

    JJ Cheated.

    1: Movie should have been called Star Trek Episode IV-V A New Empire. There are too many similarities to both movies. A Wampa in Star Trek?!? *sigh*

    2: The "new" Enterprise is anything but new. Check out the picture of the Ambassador Class starship and you'll see what i mean. Change the nacelles and pylons and *poof* instant JJ Enterprise.

    Now with the "JJ is a big,fat cheater" out of the way we must now ask the question that most do not...why go with Kirk?

    This is what baffles me to no end. Ok, Kirk is the man..i get it...but JJ could have focused on the Christopher Pike command of the Enterprise and made something ST fan haven't seen.

    Why Pike? here we go:

    1: Pike served on the Enterprise for 11 years. That's four movies right there.

    2: Pike's time on the Enterprise was tragic. He loses his Yeomen and Spock was seriously injured on a away mission that went FUBAR. There's his "Wrath of Kahn" right there.

    3: Everything is already friggin written! Seriously! why not use it?

    Again, excellent blog. I'm done ranting now :)

  64. Oh, I agree. I'd like to see a film focusing on Pike.

  65. Anonymous4:22 AM

    It's just what the Follywood want's to sell. "It's cool to be a fool!"...

  66. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Seriously? You just said that a fictional mining ship built by a fictional ALIEN race from a fictional timeline doesn't make any sense as to why it's built the way it is?

    First of all, it's all fiction. That in itself should be enough, but to even further the fact that the ship can look like anything it wants, it was built by ALIENS, who don't think like humans, and have abilities which humans can not replicate.

    This just shows that you think everything should be similar to your views, thus the condescending attitude.

    I haven't seen you write and direct a better movie. Just complain, bitch, whine, and moan.

  67. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Also, the reason Spock had to be there was becuase he was the only being capable of flying the ship. Did you even watch the movie? Or did you see something you didn't like and start bitching about stuff, thus missing explanation?

  68. Anonymous4:11 PM

    This is a great write up. You pretty much had the same experience I had. I thought it was great for the first half and then it just lost me as the story progressively unwound itself.

    One thing I thought, and perhaps someone mentioned this above, was if this is an alternative universe, why not keep Spock as captain?

    Kirk would have made a fantastic first officer. His bravado and fearlessness would have lead many a red shirted crew man to his death while still saving the day.

    However, Spock was all around the better officer then Kirk. The guy lost his mother and still kept the crew and ship together.

    Before that, he was up for tenure at Vulcan's version of Harvard, was seemingly a professor at StarFleet Academy, had a position of authority within StarFleet and even designed the Kobayashi Maru!

    Kirk liked women, drinking and acting on impulse. Plus, he cheated on the Kobayashi Maru! Not exactly captain material.

  69. Anonymous #1: Okay, so by that logic it would also be just fine if the ship was a giant gerbil dressed as Santa? That would be a-okay for you? Fiction doesn't have to be stupid. The mining ship is, from a logical standpoint, stupid. It's nifty and cool looking, but still stupid.

    You also need to look back through all the Star Trek series to see why continuity is a problem.

    I also don't have to write and direct my own movie to be capable of criticizing a movie for its failures. That's a ridiculous argument. If that were so, there would be very few people who could comment on anything.

    Anonymous #2: Really? And that makes perfect sense to you? He's the only Vulcan in his timeline capable of using this ship? Let's rephrase that: he's the only living, intelligent being in an entire galaxy capable of using that ship? Preposterous. It's possible he's the only one who could have built it, but the other argument is silly at best. If I missed the explanation, please, enlighten me.

    Anonymous #3: I think the problem with Spock, and why Kirk was a better captain, was that, despite being great captain material, Spock had serious flaws in how he thought about military combat, while Kirk did not. I don't think Kirk is necessarily a better officer, but he was right about how to engage the Romulans, while Spock was not. Otherwise, I agree with you.

  70. Anonymous10:04 AM

    I agree mainly star trek has detracted viewers and its fanbase by turning it into action trek, they did the same thing for enterprise and voyager in order to get ratings not understanding that its SOCIALY RELEVANT stories much like the original twilight zone wich made star trek popular. star wars was for jocks, star trek was for nerd thinkers. this movie really needed someone like harlen ellison writing and movie franchises need to STOP DROPPING MUSICAL SCORES. Music is 89% of a film or tv series and just as important as a character in it. They should have never dropped horners star trek 2 score and that should have been the staple for treks music (even the original classic shows music would have been greater than 2009's score). In all it felt like watching transformers 2, someones cheap attempt to make money, the micheal baying of star trek has trek is like a stale oreo cookie, something that the memory of is greater than the actuality of it now.all these franchises need to stop dropping music, its music that sets the tone and mood and makes a sequel feel like an extra 2 hours of the original film like it star trek is another made for reboot fanboy film of 13-24 year old annoying fanboys like watching elvis impersonator fans going, gosh isnt that guy great while some of us have good taste and sit back and laugh.

    1. Amen! It also taught about respect for those different from ourselves, it inspired children to want to grow up to be astronauts, scientists, Doctors, Teachers etc.
      These movies are a farce. They inspire nothing and they're not even good clean fun. They're disgusting.
      The holes in the plots are so huge a convoy of trucks could drive through it.
      Those who like These Wanna-be star trek movies WILL NEVER BE TREKKIES. And Abrams nor Paramount has any say in this matter. REAL FANS created the Term Trekkies and it is WE who determine what a Real Trekkie is. Not them!
      These movies stink and I hope Abrams is barred from ever having ANYTHING to do with Star Trek ever again!

    2. Again this this "real Trekkies" thing. Whatever you think of Abrams, he's creating new Trek fans. Shitting on them isn't going to convince them that the original and various series are worth their consideration.

  71. Anonymous: Glad we're on the same page :)

    I honestly can't remember the music for the new movie...not now anyway...there was music?

  72. The movie sucked! Period! Those liking are NOT true Star Trek fans. Real Star Trek Fans are loyal to the Roddenberry version. Yes, he's dead but that's no excuse for the pile of manure Abrams pulls from his rear-end and smears on paper and then have the audacity to call a script.
    The characters are stale, boring cardboard cartoonish idtiots who would be more at home in the Power Ranger Series.
    That Douche-bag turned Kirk from a hero to a zero! And Uhura from classy to trashy!
    That puke needs to be barred forever from Star Trek!

    1. I don't agree that the people who like this movie are not true Star Trek fans. At best, that's a "No True Scotsman" fallacy and not particularly relevant anyway. Even so, when you look into the actual creation of the series, it's not Roddenberry's "version" that matters so much as the influence all of them had on it. Leonard Nimoy's book, I Am Spock, is a perfect example of this. He had considerable influence over the character *and* the direction of many of the episodes. So it's more collaborative...