Okay. That's out of my system. Now for happiness. Onward:
So I admit, I was highly sceptical of this film. Mainly in self-defence - if you don't expect anything you can't be disappointed - but any of you who were concerned about J.J. Abrams destroying canon are probably going to be... I was going to say relieved but the word is more like kind of amazed at what he did to work around that.
I will say no more.
Okay, so the thing Abrams kept saying about this film was that it wasn't a remake, it was a "re-imagining." I've also heard the term "reboot," which is the one I think best applies. Because J.J. Abrams, despite his Unnecessarily Long Montage Abuse problem, is not an idiot. He's also a Trekkie. He knew there was nothing he could do with Classic Trek that wouldn't have Trekkies out for his blood. So what did he do instead?
Oh, just destroyed the universe.
No, really. This particular Star Trek film takes place in an alternate reality from the universe we know - of course, it would have been better to know that earlier on in the film than the second major dramatic sequence (or to simply leave it until Leonard Nimoy Himself could explain it, which would have made more sense narratively), but it's good he tossed it in there eventually.
No, seriously, J.J. You have a problem. With montages. It was not necessary for that one to last for approximately eleven years. This is Kirk's father, that's his mother, that baby? James Fucking Tiberius Kirk. We get it already. Can we move on?
(The rest of the theatre seemed to feel the same way, anyway.)
But yeah. Destroyed the universe. I mean okay, technically Spock - our Spock, or as IMDB calls him, "Spock Prime" - was the one who did the actual destroying... or rather, failed to prevent it? There was something unclear about a supernova that I'm pretty sure is impossible, but we're talking about Star Trek here.
The point is, J.J. Abrams destroyed the universe. So that he could tell the story he wanted without having to worry about angry Trekkies killing him on sight.
You have to admire the sheer brass balls on the man. Seriously.
(Rodney would probably tell you you can't erase a timeline, just diverge from it, which in go-back-in-time-to-fix-this-tragic-mista
Anyway, I don't want you to think I'm against this in any way. One of Enterprise's main flaws - note I say "main," not "only" - was that it tried to retcon, which in Star Trek is cheating. The motto in Star Trek has always been Keep Moving Forward. Sometimes you get dealt shit, but you take it, and you run with it. You don't go back and change things - and Abrams knew this, so he solved his conundrum by wiping out the entire... universe.
It left me very little to complain about (of course I kept a few things). I actually had a lot of fun in this movie, once they finally let us inside (even though my hair still smells like cigarette smoke). Things blew up (beautifully), the score was fucking gorgeous, and almost everyone involved was clearly just short of wetting themselves over the fact that they were in a fucking Star Trek movie. Especially Chris Pine. He was so consumed with awe and glee that I was surprised every time he made it through a scene without having actual seizures of joy. Even though this universe's Kirk has (and as artemisiabrisol pointed out, this is something common to all J.J. Abrams creations) Massive Daddy Issues, while that was one of the few flaws our universe's Kirk never evidenced. But he delivered. And he was even ginger! Not a perfect Kirk by any means - not charming enough, or enough of a bastard - but clearly enjoying the hell out of the role.
Speaking of characters who weren't big enough bastards - Sarek. I mean, I know that J.J. Abrams didn't get the memo that We Do Not Destroy Vulcan - he BLEW UP VULCAN, GUYS, I STILL can't believe it - but everybody knows that Sarek of Vulcan was a dick. A brilliant dick, a dick who negotiated some of the Federation's most significant peace treaties, but... a dick. Even Picard thought so, and said so, which is something considering Picard never even told his own father that. Sarek of Vulcan was such a dick that he and his son didn't reconcile until he'd been dead several weeks. Months even. I'm not even sure I get why they did that - Spock's humanising influence wasn't either of his parents, it was his epic love with James T. Kirk, everybody knows that. Perhaps Abrams didn't fully internalise the whole Vulcan mystique. They don't feel things. And while it makes sense for Vulcan children to have less control, not having completed the whatever-it's-called discipline (though why are Vulcan children using Yo Mama jokes? WHERE IS MY ENLIGHTENED 23RD CENTURY?), for Sarek to come up to his son and say "I married your mother because I loved her" and "I like that you have emotions, after all you're of two worlds" indicates to me that somebody never really met Sarek of Vulcan - who was a dick. Instead the writers felt the need to give Spock a human reason to do the right thing as opposed to the logical thing that wasn't Jim Kirk telling him not to be a dick. Although apparently J.J. Abrams did get the memo that Sarek of Vulcan is fucking bulletproof.
Some other cast impressions:
Leonard Nimoy - HA HA HA. Leonard, you are way too cool for this alternate reality, and you know it. It's like he's been waiting all his life to play the guy who literally knows better than everyone else (including himself), and walks around hinting at the fact. Filled me with joy every time he appeared. And at the end of the movie, what's he doing? He's going off to rebuild Vulcan in his own image. Well of course he is.
Paul McGillion - Yes, we saw you! - was clearly having the time of his life despite the fact that he was in the movie for, like, thirty seconds. I did a little dance in my chair. And then I realised this movie was sorely deficient in Canadians for a Star Trek film. I think I'll have to write a letter.
Zoe Saldana - Okay okay okay. I have several things to say about this, the first of which is didn't they cast this girl at the last minute? Or did I imagine hearing that? Anyway, of the entire cast she was the main disappointment. I mean she was okay, but she missed by a mile the absolutely unshakable regality I associate with Nyota Uhura. And ninety percent of her usefulness in this movie was in being emotionally supportive to Spock. What? Where is the Nyota Uhura who in yet another universe pulled a knife on a guy? She just wasn't... awesome enough. Yes, that's it. She lacked awesome. Though I appreciate that Abrams totally skipped all that twenty-five-years-of-blatant-flirting bullshit and had her and Spock already making out in turbolifts. Spock/Uhura was my very first het OTP. *draws little hearts around them* I just really wish Zoe Saldana had been able to project more self-awareness of her own Awesome.
Anton Yelchin - He was the most adorable bridge officer of all bridge officers. Running through the ship to make a transporter lock. Laboriously pronouncing his Vs. I wanted to pinch his little cheeks.
Simon Pegg - Oh, SIMON PEGG. And that little shout-out they did to Journey Home, with Spock giving him an equation he hasn't written yet - THANK YOU, J.J. ABRAMS. Montgomery Scot is in absolutely no doubt of his own awesome, and he just doesn't understand why everyone else is so stupid. (And now I want a fic where Rodney meets Scotty, stat. Or always wished he was as cool as Scotty but didn't dare admit it. Ha.)
Zachary Quinto - I was suitably impressed. It wasn't a flawless Spock imitation - of course it wasn't quite meant to be - but it was easy to translate our Spock back to what Zachary Quinto's Spock looked like. Again, an actor thoroughly enjoying his role and having it show. YAY.
John Cho - Had the Sulu eyeroll down pat. Sulu was always just a nice guy who just happened to feel that he should be in charge of everything, and Cho absolutely nailed that. His "yes, sir, you're very funny" face was uncanny. Also my favourite part of all the movie was when he pulled out his collapsible space sword and artemisiabrisol yelled "TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT!" Because, yes. Obviously Hikaru Sulu should be shirtless while swordfighting. It's a rule.
Karl Urban - In terms of aping the original characters, probably the best performance in the film. I could have closed my eyes and thought it was Deforest Kelley, I'm not kidding. He didn't really look much like Bones Prime, but the facial expressions, the body language, the mannerisms... it's like there's an acting school that teaches worn, sarcastic, alcoholic space doctors from the South and he was its star graduate. He was amazing.
Okay, my last puzzlement (complaint? I'm not even sure where to file this) is with the Romulans. I get that they come from a future one hundred and twenty-nine years beyond the movie, but if they remained so true to the essence of the Vulcans with apparently little effort, then... why are the Romulans tattooed rebellious teenage boys with a Wraith ship? (It looked a lot like a Wraith ship. Crossed with a Shadow vessel. I was so excited about seeing a warbird when Kirk first mentioned Romulans, and then I was bitterly disappointed when I realised he was talking about those lunatics on the Wraith ship. Romulans? What? I know that Vulcans and Romulans were once one people and the Romulans split off, but when Romulans rebelled, they became a repressive police state, not Metallica. And I know this is a re-imagining, reboot, whatever, but there are certain qualities inherent to the species, and one of them is the need to control absolutely everything while actually being emotional and hot-tempered. Um. Not dress up like the cast of Firefly and introduce massive explosive devices into the cores of peaceful Federation planets. I do not understand.
Oh, and while we're on the subject? Steadycam hand-to-hand on a catwalk? Dear J.J. Abrams: Joss Whedon beat you to it, and he did it better. Actually, the film on the whole could have used a lot less steadycam. Star Trek - at least since Next Gen - has always had this very clean-edged profile, stylistically and cinematically, and it was a little unsettling for the camera to be jostling all over the place. artemisiabrisol said it well: "They spent all that time choreographing dramatic fight scenes, I want to actually see them." Then again, it was such an obvious Firefly shout-out... :)
All told, I give it an eight (8) out of ten (10) - points lost for blowing up Vulcan and for... well, the Romulans.
But really, worth it for the graphics, the score, and the enthusiasm. Especially Karl Urban, OH MY GOD.
Though what movie wouldn't be improved by John Cho fencing shirtless on a genocidal drill in the upper atmosphere of Vulcan?
None. NONE AT ALL. \o/
And now I'm going to bed, because we had to walk back from Commercial and I'm exhausted. Tomorrow I have off, and I think we're going to see it again with calantha42 and mik100, who couldn't make it tonight. I, however, have no classes on Friday, which is glorious and I plan to celebrate by sleeping in rather extravagantly.