by Claire Ramsey
That was my first reaction to the new Star Trek installment, no doubt because I saw it at the Raleigh Road Drive-In from approximately 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Not my best times for analyzing, or even fully understanding, a new movie.
However, in the clear light and clearer mind of morning, and after a little poking around on IMDB et al., my “huh?” seemed to be replaced by “yay!”
More than one reviewer has lauded this new Star Trek for breaking away from the TNG (Star Trek: The Next Generation) world that has dominated the movies in recent years. Much though I have enjoyed several of those films, most especially Insurrection (though I may be the only one who loved that one), I too was glad to see a new birth.
I had the same excitement when the television show Enterprise began. The soon-to-be Starfleet uniforms had zippers! Wow, technology from my century. Enterprise was a wonderful bridge (as well as explaining several inconsistencies from previous series), and I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of its episodes as much as I enjoyed the new Star Trek. (Jonathan Archer gets a shout-out in the new flick also — keep an eye out for it!) However, Enterprise too had its “huh?” moments, and they were quite similar to the one I experienced watching the new movie. The whole time-travel Xindi plot kinda lost me.
And wow! What do we have here? Aliens and time travel! We know it’s a time travel plot basically from moment (or trailer) one, so that is not much of a spoiler. What might be is my next question, so stop reading and go watch the movie if you have not yet seen it.
My next question was: had I been awake during my first viewing of the movie, how soon would I have picked up that this is not, in fact, the story of the Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. we all knew and loved from TOS (The Original Series), but the stories of an alternate young Enterprise crew?
I understand and appreciate why they did it. I understand and appreciate that this means a new venue for lots more Star Trek movies featuring this new timeline and WONDERFUL new cast! The only thing I don’t understand and appreciate is why I was led to believe I was going to be seeing the youths of the characters I knew, when, in fact, the sting of the alternate timeline was lying in wait. Surprise? Good scriptwriting? I am sure there are myriad explanations, but I had it so stuck in my head that this film was the Starfleet years of the original TOS crew that I missed part of the movie adjusting…
That said, this is a must see for Star Trek and soon-to-be Star Trek fans. The beautiful new cast, days after my viewing, is still following me around mentally, saying “Aren’t we perfect? The spitting images of the original crew? Aren’t we great actors and incredibly cute beside?” That cast was the major strength of the movie, and they recreated the TOS younger selves (ok, alternate younger selves) beautifully; I really felt like I was watching a younger Takei, Nimoy, Doohan, etc… The only one who felt different to me was young Kirk — and that was a relief!
As for the older folks, and villains, etc… About angry Romulan Nero, well, perhaps the less said, the better. If I talk about him at all, I will have exhausted the slight plot that brings him into the story: he is more catalyst than character — a catalyst for character introduction and lots of large explosions.
On a happier note, everything is as it should be with Leonard Nimoy, back in the ears as an aged, softer Spock. Majel Barrett Roddenberry takes her final bow as the voice of the Enterprise computer (sniff!). Bruce Greenwood finally gives us a personality for Captain Pike, together with a possible explanation for his later horrific injuries. Winona Ryder doesn’t distract as Spock’s mother Amanda, though she doesn’t muster the presence of Jane Wyatt. In contrast, Ben Cross very nearly lives up to Mark Lenard’s Sarek: he’s got the ears, the somber demeanor, the voice — the only thing missing is Lenard’s big, beautiful, (dare I say it) emotionally stirring eyes. They were a constant reminder that Vulcans only govern their emotions, however strongly; they still have them. Cross might have actually been a good original Sarek, with his stiffer face: a chance he was not given, so now he finds himself in the wake of those eyes.
And as far as Quinto-Spock, Pine-Kirk, Urban-McCoy, Saldana-Uhura, Pegg-Scotty, Cho-Sulu, and Yelchin-Chekov go, there is only one thing to say: more more more!