The Fortress sees all from its Arctic perch. We can view Star Trek from the everyman’s perspective as well as that of the Trekker. Both are needed as this movie attempts to mainstream the longstanding franchise out of the depths of geekdom.
Doing a “reboot”, “re-envisioning”, “reimagining” — whatever they are calling it now, is a perilous tightrope where too far to either side alienates half your audience. The adage, “if you are going to reimagine, go for it in a big way” is not true in these cases. Film producers can further derail a franchise 45 years in the making easier than reinvigorating it.
So they gave Kirk a new origin. The everyman does not care, and Trekkers may find it more fitting for Starfleet’s future all star. However did they have to make young Kirk such a punk? That whole car theft scene – trashing a beauty of a corvette and subjecting us to 90 seconds of musical carnage accomplished what exactly?
Spock was altered the most, and in our opinion too far. It undermined what the character is about. Everyone always knew Spock may be sad underneath, but he could never show it and you sympathized and related to him. It was a great counter balance to his superior strength and intellect.
There was little room to sympathize here. He bullies and is arrogant. He has a romantic relationship with Uhura that will throw many for a loop. “Isn’t he a Vulcan?” those with even the slightest Trek knowledge may ask. In the 45 years of Star Trek history, have we ever seen a Vulcan kiss much less steam it up scene after scene?
The Enterprise was not immune to “reimagining”, but with such an iconic design (even to the less initiated) it was done in a way that did not burn the corneas of our Star Trek sensibilities. We do not think all the new bumps and lights were necessary or added to the aesthetics, but the all import proportions were respected.
The space battles were dazzlingly rendered. However this seemed to come at the price of clarity. Making it pretty does not mean you are communicating what the heck is happening. Everything became confusing pulses of flying light. Star Trek’s two most iconic weapons – phasers and photon torpedoes – might just as well have been bundles of bottle rockets.
The plot was classic Trek for better or worse, mostly the former. One sentence synopsis? A vengeful enemy from the future appears with a ginormously powerful ship with which he destroys an inhabited world, and only one man and his heroic band of freedom fighters… oops, sorry - only young Kirk, overly amorous Spock, and a new inexperienced crew stand between the destruction of its next target, Earth!
To “mainstream” it the movie was also very un-Trek. You may notice the lack of “technobable”. There was barely a hint of “rerouting the power”, and not a single instance of “reversing the polarity”!
In a few places it felt like Star Trek was made by people who do not know the franchise. The lack of green glows on the Romulan ship – heck, those guys hardly even looked Romulan.
It was entertaining. However the time-traveling, continuity-wrecking story comes at a high price. Trekkers will forever have to differentiate now between “original continuity” versus “Abram’s continuity”. We suppose this gives him license to take Trek wherever he wants now, which was probably his plan from the start.
Be careful for what you wish for J.J. Abrams. The Star Trek franchise is sharp on both ends, and fans of any sort can be hard to please.