First off, I'm not a Trek fan, except you can't exist as an SF fan and not have been influenced by Trek. I saw my share of original series reruns, I can have passionate discussions on how Next Gen had potential but failed (though I do have a handful of episodes I liked), I gave every subsequent series a try but bailed. I cannot help but care.
(And I think Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is on the list of Utterly Perfect Films Ever, in its own little shining capsule. Every list of great movie lines should include the exchange: "She change her hair?" "I didn't notice.")
Do you notice how much everyone wants to talk about this new film? Nobody's dismissing it; if they love it, they want to tell everyone why. If they were so-so, they have treatises about their dissatifactions. Star Trek is important to modern science fiction, whether you're a Trekkie or no.
It is hard for me to say, simply, whether I liked this film. I have to tick things off on my fingers: one, I enjoyed the experience, two, the actors made me believe their well-established characters, three, there was some godawful shit in places and yet the film pulled through. I can't say whether I loved, liked, enjoyed, or tolerated it. The answer just won't come to me. All I know is, it makes me want to talk about it.
I thought the film was visually quite beautiful. I loved the glary lighting effects because they were like nothing I'd ever seen, and I feel that's kinda inherent in the "where no one has gone before" demand of Star Trek.
I bought the characters. I don't know that there's any greater praise to be said; that's why "liked" seems flimsy and hard to come at. Yes, that's Spock, yes, that's Bones, yes, that's Uhura. Nothing questioned. Even the most non-Trek fan can understand why that's huge.
I have the hardest time explaining what I felt for Kirk, though. It tangles up in the concept that I didn't quite like him, and as I keep saying that stymies me. Did I accept that that was Kirk? Yes. Did I accept that he'd interact with the other characters like that? Was the actor convincing? Yes. Finally I think I've narrowed it down to this: I buy that he's Kirk but I don't buy that he's a prodigy who's going to whip through training. Yes, he can drive a 'Vette, yes, he can mouth off (yes, he has the upperbody strength to cling to cliff edges and pull himself up--didja guess that would be foreshadowing?), yes, he has this heritage--he's cocksure as hell, but is he brilliant? I felt he was, I dunno, all cock and no actual balls. I think the film fell into "tell-not-show" by pulling the Three Years Later placard and asking the irregularity of the Kobayashi Maru to stand alone for his character. Well, that and Will Boff Hot Babes. We knew that already, der.
The Romulans were so bad I thought it was PLOT. Right at the beginning, I thought, "Oh, I see! These aren't the Romulans, these are the descendants of the human survivors of the battle--that 'what Stardate is this' time plot biz--and they all got kewl tribal tattoos and are flying around in the Romulan ship because they took it over. And what does that mean? Let's watch and find out." Laugh if you will, but this just kept reinforcing itself--Captain Nemowannabe and his fey little "Hiiiii, Christopher--" I expected him to lisp. I honestly did not give up on the "they're humans pretending to be Romulans" idea until we got Spock's InfoDump two-thirds of the way through, and even then I was still holding out hope, because, christ, Captain Nemowannabe sure as hell slept in on the morning of Khan Noonan Singh Lecture day. Ew.
Karl Urban is easy to love, whatever he's in. I thought he was perfect. Sulu Sulu Sulu, I totally want Sulu; I adored him instantly. And they let him fence! (Am I gonna have to see the Harold and Kumar films now? I DON'T HAVE TIME.) I want to wrap up baby!Chekov and snuggle him to my bosom and sing Little Bunny Foo Foo to him. He was adorable. And the moment we saw Spock's Mom I wanted to do her. Cannot believe I didn't recognize Winona Ryder.
I don't know if this is a problem of the film or of me, but when Vulcan went bye-bye and so did Spock's mom, I felt zero emotion because I knew, of course, that neither Vulcan nor Spock's mom are gone in classic Trek, so the storyline, with its time plot shit, was going to restore them by the end of the film, of course. And I was still thinking that until halfway through the credits, and suddenly I yelled, "Hey...!" Okay, I get it, what with Uhura playing Exposition Lass there with her "An Alternate Universe..." murmuring--everything isn't going to be exactly the same, got that--but I honestly did not think they would have the stones to actually destroy Vulcan and Amanda. Holy shit. I am not enough of a fan to be upset by this but I am enough of a canon whore in general to stare open-mouthed at it. And this is complicated by my not liking time plots very much. I like my time-travel SF either scary-serious (Primer) or irreverent (Doctor Who). I don't like it to be throwaway, for which Trek has always been infamous. --Hey, look, it's even more like classic Trek than I realized. Go fig.
I totally bought the Uhura/Spock. And I missed it until they beat me over the head with it, and I'm not embarrassed about that, much, because I don't think they wanted everyone to get it right away. The whole "favoritism" scene told me something, but didn't tell me what. And the elevator scene actually had me saying, "Oh, man, she's in love with him and can't keep it from him any longer...waitaminute, they're an ITEM. You are slow." It worked. I liked it.
Okay, the hour-and-twenty minutes turnaround. Let me not belabor it: Spock jettisoning Kirk off the ship is the worst bit of stupid I have been asked to buy in a Trek film in ever. EVER. ("Why does God need a spaceship?" does not even come close. Distant second.) I sat there gaping, closing my mouth and swallowing, saying, "This is a secret plot of Spock's, right? To get Kirk somewhere secret that he needs him to be?" When Ice Beastie #1 showed up, I pleaded, "This is the emissary, right? It's a fake-out to look scary, but it's actually the emissary Spock wants him to meet?...Okay, no. Wait, Ice Beastie #2! This is the emissary, right?...Okay, scratch that, too..." And then Old!Spock showed up, and for one blissful moment I was thrilled beacause YAY I WAS RIGHT...and then I realized it was a goddamn coincidence. And I was sitting there through the InfoDump--this, remember, is the point I discovered the not-Romulans are, indeed, actually just shitty Romulans, so things were really falling to pieces for me--and Old!Spock's making up shit about black holes that are apparently sentient, because they can send you back in time for whatever random duration that makes your part of the plot kewler, and I'm reeling with the stupid, just reeling...
...and Simon Pegg shows up to save the day OH THANK YOU GOD.
I don't know how they instinctively knew to save a character back for that moment, and knew that it should be Scotty, and that it should be Simon Pegg's Scotty, but he's the reason I'm not walking around saying, "How did they let that movie turn into such a piece of crap?" He saved the film for me, with his funny and his timing and his perfect accent, and, well, guys, SCOTTY. Suddenly the whole film took off again.
And all was good until the credits and I remembered Vulcan and Amanda and "...hey!"
I do have the best S.O. ever. When Kirk gave Spock that arm-slap, I murmured, "There's a wet towel with Kirk's ass's name on it," and he whispered back, "Later, dear. Save it for the slashfic."
Since I didn't want to read anyone's review before I saw the film and wrote my own, if you guys want to link me to your own reviews, I'd love that? Save me from having to do skip=2000. Thanks!