I didn’t make much of that Star Trek remake.
(This film was recorded on my Sky+ box on Christmas Eve, 2011. I watched it yesterday. Yes.)
I tried so hard to enjoy Star Trek, really I did. It’s not that I was particularly invested in its success; though I’ll admit to a fanatical young love for all things Starfleet, I wasn’t really looking to the new film to bring back the respect not warranted since Picard hung up his bald cap. Star Trek is Star Trek – a sci-fi phenomenon that will continue to attract fans for years to come. The reason I didn’t enjoy the film is, quite simply, that it pissed me off.
First things first; Chris Pine made a pretty decent Captain Kirk. Sylar from Heroes made a good Spock because Vulcans are good at keeping emotions in check, as are bad actors. A perfect match. The bloke who played McCoy – I’ve just realised it’s Karl Urban – was fucking brilliant though. It’s only a shame that the focus in this one was squarely on Kirk/Spock rather than Kirk/Spock/McCoy as it used to be.
What really irritated me were all the oh-so-clever nods and hidden references to past Trek; as a former obsessive it irked rather than delighted me. For me, the worst offender was Sulu’s volunteering for a mission as an expert in hand-to-hand combat. (Incidentally, and because I can be equally snarky, I called this ‘nod’ way ahead of time. As I said to my poor unfortunate co-viewer, “if Sulu does something clever in this next fight and mentions that it’s because he does fencing, I’m done here.” Clearly, all the offending nods came during the set-up of the film as I was already about to give up on it.) I can imagine now that at least fifteen die-hard Trekkers urinated in their cinema seats upon hearing this little gem, but it really had quite the opposite effect on me. (Whatever the opposite of pissing is; taking in fluids I suppose.)
I know that Scotty is always the one to get the ship out of a jam at the end, but the fact that Simon ‘sounded like Shrek’ Pegg’s character got the crew out of three separate and unconnected jams in ten minutes – having only been in the film at all for the past five – was another bone of contention for me. Even more irritating was the cynical struggle to fit four hours of character setup into three scenes, through clumsy dialogue and too-tightly-condensed thought/action processes.
“Ha, Spock’s mum is human! Let’s pick on him to see if he displays some of that famous human emotion we hear so much about at the science academy. Also, Spock is unpopular here at the Academy at which we all study despite his genius-level intellect. Also, his dad is Vulcan and it’s not customary for Vulcans to marry humans.”
“I am James T. Kirk, and my stepdad is angry with me because I am driving his antique car despite my ridiculously young age. Also, I am a daredevil and so I must almost drive myself off a cliff after police pursuit just to feel the thrill of being alive that will shape my experiences in later life. Maybe before I hit puberty.”
There was just far too much stuff to fit in to their early lives; assuming the main characters are 18 or 19 when joining the Federation – oh jesus, that line where Pike dares Kirk to sign up – it needed so, SO much more exposition considering that the producers had themselves thrown the 50-year-strong canon out of the window.
Once they’d finished cramming in all the worthless back-slapping references, there wasn’t enough of a story there to hold me. Not one I’d recommend.