A lot of people have been asking me why I hated the new Star Trek movie so much; there’s some sort of mass hysteria created if there’s a hint of suggestion that this movie is not the best thing evah (at least until, say, Angels & Demons or Terminator: Salvation, etc.) – and anyone who doesn’t like this movie MUST be a ‘Trekkie.’ Well, that kind of scares me. I’ve noticed that almost everyone that likes this movie has needed to make a disclaimer – ‘I don’t even like Star Trek!’ – cos, you know, we wouldn’t want to think that they actually liked Star Trek (the horror). But the reasons I didn’t like the film have nothing to do with being a fan of Star Trek one way or the other; if this new direction had been pulled off well, I would have whole-heartedly embraced it, but it didn’t. Instead, it came across as a bad fanfic mash-up made by someone w/the budget to make it look really good.
The movie has some great visual moments; as far as pretty splosions go, there are some great scenes and moments of very cool action sequences (which I always enjoy). And Simon Pegg is brilliant as always. But other than that, the movie is really nothing but pretty. The plot is simplistic and contrived (forgivable; do we really need to ponder everything?), the women all wear miniskirts (which seven – seven! – men I’ve talked to about the film have noted immediately, with either annoyance or glee), and there aren’t many of those darn funny-looking aliens, just young, reasonably attractive human types. But the mantra of Star Trek – to ‘boldly go where no (man/one) has gone before’ – was completely lacking; this film did nothing but meekly go where dozens of movies have gone before. Shallow enemy (who looked about as alien as a singer from a emo metal band)? Check. Planets blowing up/in? Check. Amazing series of coincidences that you’re supposed to roll with because they hurry the plot along? Check. There’s no actual suspense with ANYTHING in this movie; hell, all of the crew members except for Kirk start out fresh from academy in what will become their lifelong careers (no pesky senior officers to mentor them or ranks to climb, phew!). And don’t worry about not being able to follow the plot; every character, every plot device, every action, is dumbed down and described in detail as if it were a training exercise (tell them what you’re going to do, explain it while doing it, then tell them what you just did). The film has the subtlety of a shotgun blasting up your nasal cavity. It also made sure it pandered to the people who weren’t really fans of the franchise but who’d know all of the character’s ‘punchlines’ – I guess it was supposed to be clever or an homage to put in every single clichÃ©d quote imaginable. And while some made it feel more like a Trek movie, most seemed forced; like the only humor the film could have had to be derived from injecting it with some camp from the ‘old’ Trek – there was no original humor, but there was one character bordering very dangerously on the lines of a Jar Jar Ewok. If he’d started to talk like Short Round, I’d be convinced this movie was a plot against humanity.
Star Trek has always had a bit of social commentary within in (many times to the point of preachiness), but this film has nothing of the sort. If anything, it regresses to being a pure-dude action movie; there are very few women in the movie; most are background decoration, and even Uhura has been demoted to being nothing more than a doting Spock fangirl who lets Kirk take credit for her research. There are barely any aliens in the movie, and no moral lessons or value judgments need to be made. In that sense, it is all supposed to be about the relationships forming between the crew, but the movie doesn’t even allow that to happen with any nuance or cleverness; every interaction is so forced and everyone is immediately best buds or adversaries. And while the basic premise (time has changed so everything is different) would have allowed them to do pretty much anything they wanted, they didn’t take any real chances or risks (Sulu could have been a chick. There could have been more aliens. They had free reign and did nothing with it other than using it as a crutch for when they slightly altered the canon!). It starts to feel a bit like Fast and Furious in Space (which, incidentally, would ROCK! – patent pending ), but with some Star Trek stuff thrown in so it could be called Star Trek. So if they’d called it what it was – ‘fun, mindless fluff’ – I would have loved it at that level, but trying to make it fun, mindless fluff AND Star Trek was too much for one movie (or, really, simply not enough).