As a person who writes science fiction and fantasy, I have a terrible confession to make. I hate Star Trek. All Star Trek. As a child, I would occasionally dart into the living room when someone was watching it on TV and I’d roll my eyes at the horrible special effects and dart right back out again. When I was a teenager, I watched the Next Generation because I had a terrible crush on Will Riker. Later, I would bury my head in a book while my husband watched Deep Space Nine. I saw a grand total of two episodes of Voyager and I didn’t know they made a Star Trek Enterprise until I was looking at the Wikipedia article just now trying to remember the name of Voyager…
How is it, exactly, that someone who loves not only science fiction and fantasy, but also art with political and cultural purpose, could hate Star Trek? Other than being a proud member of the George Lucas special effects (the only thing he was ever any good at, btw) generation, I don’t really know, and it’s irrelevant to this little article.
So they made a new Star Trek movie. They did it Lucas-style, which is to say, backwards, making what should have been the first movie as the seventh (?). Seeing that in the trailer didn’t exactly give me chills. Nonetheless, while I hate Star Trek, I can always count on it to provide the kind of gift you give your husband that says, “Now you know this isn’t for me. At all.” So this afternoon, after checking Rotten Tomatoes to make sure that other people who don’t hate Star Trek didn’t hate this version of Star Trek, I decided to take my husband to a movie. After the first half of 2009, he’s earned it. Anyway, Karl Urban was in it. And that guy from Shawn of the Dead. And don’t speculative fiction writers have an obligation to watch Star Trek (yes, I have seen all the other movies)?
So here’s my take in short form:
- Special Effects: Excellent – no tell-tale CGI sequences
- Pace: Excellent – solid action moves the story forward
- Cast: Great choices for every character with the exception of Captain Kirk who was far too good looking (and not to mention dramatically talented) to even remotely resemble the original Kirk. I do wonder how they managed to find someone who looks so much like Leonard Nemoy–but that’s why they’re rich and I’m not. (Ladies, don’t get your hopes up that Karl Urban will be as hot as he was in LotR or Riddick or Bourne–you might not even recognize him).
- Characterization: Very much in line with the original Star Trek characters even given the alternate reality which is, in my mind, completely unrealistic. But doing it any other way would have pissed off two or three generations of Star Trek fans, so I get it.
- Dialogue: Funny at the right times, a little cheesy at others. That is to say, very similar to the original movies.
- Plot: Entertaining, but here’s where my big complaint is. Somehow, the directors, actors, and writers managed to stay extremely true to the Star Trek legacy in every way except the one that really matters. There was no groundbreaking story here. There was no political commentary. There was no thought-provoking quality at all. If the rest of the movie hadn’t been so entertaining, this could easily have been a deal-breaker.
Screenplay: 3 Content: 2 Performance: 4 Technical Merit: 4
Significance Factor: 1 Inspiration Factor: 1