Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Bruce Greenwood, and that great latin lover, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Have I Seen it Before: Since 1994, it is reasonable to assume that I’ve been there for every Star Trek film on opening weekend.
Did I Like It: Folks, I really want to enjoy every Star Trek film. I want to. And yet…
It’s difficult to try and criticize this film without taking a deep dive into my long-standing Trek fandom…
So here I go criticizing from that perspective:
The opening scene is such a complete and total violation of the Prime Directive in every way, shape and form. How Kirk (Pine) is not arrested and sent to a prison colony for life twenty minutes into this movie is beyond me.
They keep referring to the transwarp beaming equation that Scotty (Simon Pegg) “developed” in the original film. That was supposed to allow people to beam onto a ship traveling away from you at warp speed. It has nothing to do with beaming people to a planet in a completely different sector of space many light years away. Also, not for nothing, the effective development of that technology negates the need for starships at all, and pretty much nullifies the entire concept of Star Trek. Not great, all things considered.
The fact that Leonard Nimoy, in his final performance as Spock Prime, doesn’t argue with McCoy (Karl Urban) is a missed opportunity that will never present itself again.
Maybe one can try to make an argument that the film has a certain energy that someone who isn’t steeped in the lore of this franchise might find entertaining, but in my best attempt to try and see this film from that perspective, I just can’t make it happen. This movie has been unleashed on the public for nearly six years. Can anyone explain to me what it is actually about, beyond a tame studio-watered down semi-parable for the post 9/11 world?
Even the stakes are much lower here. In Star Trek (2009), Nero threatens the entirety of planet Earth, after proving that he is a real threat by destroying the planet Vulcan. Here, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) has a plan. I’m still not entirely sure what it is, but at the end of it, a large ship crashes into San Francisco.
Let’s talk about Khan, and for that matter, Khan, while we’re at it. The casting of the whitest man in all of time and space to succeed a decidedly non-white hispanic actor playing a man of Indian decent is a little… Well, it’s certainly something. The error is retconned by a four-part comic series published after the movie was released, but it doesn’t bode well for the film itself if you have to have the ancillary material to make heads or tails out of it. Also, the reversal of roles merely for a rehash of the far, far superior Wrath of Khan (1982) is lame in extreme.
Also, his blood wasn’t some sort of fountain of youth. Just saying.
It’s flimsy, and cheap in its writing, and that’s pretty impressive when you could say that about a lot of the big budget action far hoisted upon us. I cannot help but think that Abrams was eyeing adventures in another galaxy, far, far away and didn’t have his eyes on the prize here, and it became clear that his various lieutenants don’t have his same skill.
For some reason I want to rate this film higher than the generally accepted worst films in the franchise (either Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) or Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), depending on your particular taste), but on this particular viewing I don’t think I can go light on it. This may be the worst Trek film…
Or it’s as bad as Nemesis, not worse. I think I’ll go with that much. Worse than Nemesis feels like a stretch.