I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge Star Trek fan; I got more into Star Wars in my teens, but I fondly remember watching Next Generation while growing up. So my captain was Jean-Luc Picard. My parents watched the original series and there are pictures of me as a young girl in displays at the National Air and Space Museum when there was an exhibit; so I was at least aware of the original series. But when a new movie was announced, I first dismissed it because I didn’t watch the original, why would I watch the new one? My parents saw it and enjoyed it, so I eventually decided to go one evening when I was home from college. And thoroughly enjoyed it. It was filled with action, filled with characters in my generation. I cannot speak for how it was received or how it measures up to longtime fans, but the new movies did create a new fan. Can I quote minutia about the series or the craft or the larger universe? No. But I can do that with other shows, so I think it balances out, lol.
The rebooted movie series premiered in 2009 (and that is how it tends to be listed within fanfiction communities, or sometimes NuTrek), directed by JJ Abrams (who has gone on to do Star Wars Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker). It stars Chris Pine (a bit dashing as Nicholas Devereaux in Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, then voiced Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, and became the ‘Chris’ for DC in Wonder Woman playing Steve Trevor. He played a younger Jack Ryan in Shadow Recruit and stars as Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick in Outlaw King…which I really need to watch) as James Tiberius Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana (Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, Neytiri in Avatar, and before all of that success, she was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl [Jack Sparrow had stolen her boat]) as Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban (yes, I know he joined the MCU as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok and is one of The Boys [which recently gained Jensen Ackles, but no, I don’t believe I will be watching the show], but for me, he will always be Eomer in Lord of the Rings) as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Leonard Nimoy appears as Spock Prime, and that was wonderful. Eric Bana (Bruce Banner in the 2003 Hulk movie [which is not part of the MCU], Hector in Troy, Henry Tudor in The Other Boleyn Girl)is Nero and Bruce Greenwood (the President in National Treasure: Book of Secrets) is Christopher Pike. Rounding out the bridge crew is John Cho as Hikaru Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Pavel Andreovich Chekov. Chris Hemsworth (before he was Thor) briefly appears in the beginning as George Kirk and Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time) is Winona Kirk. [My father has made the humorous connection that in Thor you join Kirk’s father and Anakin Skywalker’s mother]. And Winona Ryder (I know her best from 1994’s Little Women) plays Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson.
The film begins with the USS Kelvin facing a lightning storm in space. A huge ship emerges and begins firing on the Kelvin. The captain (played by Fahran Tahir, who has appeared in numerous television shows from JAG to Supernatural [Osiris] to Once Upon a Time [Nemo] and a bad guy in Iron Man) orders an evacuation and puts George Kirk in charge when he goes to meet the enemy. George’s wife is in labor and anxiously awaiting her husband to join her, but autopilot has been knocked out, so George must pilot the starship manually in order to buy everyone else time to escape. Winona delivers a son in the shuttle and they decide to name him after both their fathers: Jim Tiberius. They’re a family barely a minute before the Kelvin is destroyed. We fast forward a couple years and a young Jim Kirk is racing his stepfather’s antique car in Iowa, then crashes it into a ravine, barely escaping himself. Meanwhile, on Vulcan, a young Spock is teased by agemates for being half human. He cares not for his sake, but when one boy calls his mother a whore, Spock initiates a fight. His father encourages Spock to embrace the Vulcan way of life and control his emotions, lest they control him. And when asked why he married Spock’s mother, his response is “it was logical.” Another time skip and Spock is being accepted into the Vulcan Scalene Academy. A fine honor indeed, until one points out Spock’s disadvantage of having a human mother. While Spock tells the leaders “live long and prosper,” you can tell he means something else and he elects to join Starfleet.
Back in Iowa, Jim starts flirting with Uhura at a bar and honestly, everything was going fine until other cadets got involved and started a fight. Captain Pike enters the bar and a sharp whistle gets everyone’s attention. He speaks to Kirk afterwards, commenting that the young man’s aptitude tests are off the charts and calls him a genius repeat-offender. He encourages Jim to join Starfleet, then dares him to do better than his father; he was captain for twelve minutes and saved eight hundred lives. Jim shows up for the shuttle the next morning (and riding the motorbike like he did reminded me of Top Gun [which apparently was an influence in Pine’s performance, along with Harrison as Indiana Jones and Han Solo]). A man sits next to him, a doctor who is scared of space and flying, but only has his bones left. “I may throw up on you.”
Three years later, which Kirk bragged he would complete his coursework compared to four, and Kirk takes the infamous Kobyashi Maru test…and wins. By cheating. Spock brings him up on charges, but they’re interrupted by a distress call from Vulcan. Cadets are assigned to ships, but not Kirk, pending his hearing. Bones sneaks him aboard the Enterprise under the pretense of a medical emergency. Captain Pike comments that the maiden voyage of Starfleet’s newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstance, but they will follow through on their mission. Sulu is piloting (after a little bump) and Chekov makes his first shipboard announcement. Jim hears about the “lightning storm in space,” and instantly knows they’re flying into a trap. Despite some hilarious side effects, he manages to grab Uhura who intercepted a Klingon transmission earlier and reports to the bridge. Spock first tries to get him off, but once Kirk calmly explains his logic, Spock backs the notion that all may not be as it seems. Uhura takes over at communication and the Enterprise braces for battle when they drop out of warp, to find the rest of the fleet decimated. Nero hails them and once again requests the captain to board his vessel. Pike has Spock, Kirk, and Sulu follow him; Spock will have command while Pike is gone and Sulu and Kirk are to try to knock out the drill that is aimed at Vulcan. And he makes Kirk second in command.
Sulu does get to break out his sword while battling Romulans on the platform and they succeed in knocking out the drill. But the Narada shoots a pinprick of red matter into the core of Vulcan, which will eat the planet and create a black hole. Chekov luckily is able to beam Sulu and Kirk aboard as they’re falling and Spock beams down to save the elders and his parents. But Amanda falls to her death at the last second. Spock orders the ship to rendez-vous with the rest of the fleet in another system, and we see Uhura privately comfort him, but Kirk urges they return to fight. Spock works out that Nero is from the future and by coming back, has altered events, creating an alternate reality; their destines have changed. “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” (Funny note: this was originally a quote from Sherlock Holmes, which Spock in the original series claimed was a distant ancestor. Then, in the newer Sherlock series, Sherlock makes this remark and John calls him Spock. It’s all just a big ball of wibbly wobblly, timey wimey stuff)
Onboard the Narada, Nero demands that Captain Pike tell him about Earth’s defenses so he may destroy it and continue with his retribution against Spock. And…he uses creepy bugs. Then Spock kicks Kirk off the Enterprise, stranding him on an ice planet. Lo and behold, Kirk is saved by Spock…not the young one, the original Spock. Who relates to Kirk, through a mind meld, how 129 years in the future, Spock tries to save Romulus from an exploding supernova, armed with red matter. But he was too late. And Nero, a “particularly troubled Romulan,” vows vengeance. They both get sucked through the black hole, but Nero arrives first, destroying the Kelvin. What was seconds for Spock was actually twenty-five years before he emerged. Nero captured him and stranded him so he could witness the destruction of his home, Vulcan. They find Scotty and Spock Prime gives him Scotty’s own equation on trans-warp beaming so the two young men can board the Enterprise. Spock advises Kirk to gain captaincy of the ship; Spock has just lost his home and is of course, emotionally comprised. Then Kirk can take on Nero. But Spock Prime will not accompany them; he implies a catastrophe may occur if both Spocks would meet. Kirk points out before they leave that coming back to the past to change events is cheating. Well, Spock learned from an old friend.
The bridge crew is obviously surprised to discover Kirk and Scotty aboard the Enterprise and Kirk has a rather uncomfortable confrontation with Spock, resulting in a fight. Spock’s father has to call him off and Kirk does gain command. Spock and his father share a quiet moment, and his father finally reveals that he married Amanda because he loved her. So Spock rejoins the bridge as Chekov reveals his idea to hide behind Saturn’s moon so Kirk can beam aboard the Narada. Spock volunteers first and Kirk insists on joining him. “I could cite regulation, but I know you will just ignore it.” Spock is learning.
Nero is starting the drill at Starfleet Academy while Spock and Kirk sneak aboard. Well, they end up fighting Romulans pretty quick, but Spock makes it to the futuristic shuttle and escapes so he can blow up the drill. Kirk goes after Captain Pike. And Nero just shouts after Spock, “I want Spock dead now!” Spock returns on a collision course, which of course would ignite the red matter, creating another black hole. But Nero is past reason now and shouts to “fire everything!” The Enterprise to the rescue (and it is so darn cool to hear the theme play and the ship rises up) and Scotty proudly manages to beam three people from two ships onto one pad. Kirk tries to take the high ground and offer Nero and his crew compassion, which in this case Spock argues against, but Nero refuses. Kirk has all weapons fire and destroys the Narada. But the Enterprise is caught in the gravitational well of the black hole and while Scotty is giving it everything she’s got, they’re falling. He suggests as a last ditch effort to eject the cores and they ride the blast wave out.
On Earth, the two Spocks do indeed meet; Spock Prime may have lied a little to Kirk. The elder encourages his younger counterpart to remain with Starfleet and forge a friendship with Kirk it will define them both. Put aside logic, do what’s right. Kirk is given commendation and captaincy of the Enterprise, relieving Pike who is now an Admiral (and confined to a wheelchair as a result of those creepy bugs). He enters the bridge of the repaired starship, finally wearing a gold command shirt. Spock the enters and offers to be Kirk’s first officer. The gang is back and ready for new adventures.
Leonard Nimoy gives us the final voiceover: “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life forms and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.” [The original tagline was a five-year mission, and was ‘where no man has gone before.’ I appreciate that they kept the slight revision for this film.] And the exit music is the original theme.
I felt this film was a good balance of action and drama, with the right amount of comedy thrown in. The soundtrack is cool. Poor Kirk gets beat up a lot throughout the story. And ultimately, they got the characters to all be where they’re supposed to be. It’s more fun to see Spock and Kirk at odds with each other and it will make their ensuing friendship deeper and the crew respects Kirk for his actions; keeping everyone safe and pulling them through a fire. Scotty is hilarious, I certainly believe that Uhura could kick butt. Bones is long-suffering but caring and Chekov is quite frankly adorable.
Everything fit with the basics that everyone knows about the show simply from pop culture, without having to know every episode or movie and for someone who doesn’t know that, it made it an easy film to watch. It was also written so it can all go together; they’re all canon because this is recognized as an alternate reality. These familiar characters can have new adventures without taking anything away from the original. (Of course, fanfiction comes up with their own ideas, which I’ll post my favorites with the last movie). This was a solid update; technology was advanced enough to put it in our future without being cheesy or completely improbable. Great cast, they made the roles their own and I certainly recommend this film.
Up Next: Star Trek Into Darkness