Movie Review: Star Trek


Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, and Leonard Nimoy.

How do you stay true to established canon in an effort to reboot a franchise, when the established canon is a cold wet mess?

You do this.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

  • What, exactly, is “red matter?” Is it some form of dark matter? Primordial ooze from the heart of a star? Spock just says “red matter” and we see it create singularities, but… how? I’m assuming it has to be rare since miners can weaponize it to make localized black holes anyplace they please. If it’s prevelant in Spock’s future, there’s a lot Starfleet hasn’t told us.
  • We get not one but TWO ice monsters. Were the creature folk from Cloverfield that hard up for work? One would have sufficed to have us saying along with Kirk, “This planet sucks, and Spock is a horrible travel agent!”
  • Maybe this was just due to the cinema where I saw the film, but the score seemed VERY loud. It drowned out some of the dialogue towards the beginning and threatened to overwhelm shots later on. I guess I’ll just have to see it again to be sure.
  • While it was pretty, and consistent with current design mentalities, I’m not sure the iBridge is going to age well. We’ll see.

Stuff I Liked

  • There’s a sensation that a few things plant tongues firmly in cheek. This is done with love, however, rather than being played for the sake of parody. Having seen more than my share of Star Trek, I picked up on these, as well as some of the things characters did, and I appreciated the winks.
  • Space is three dimensions. I liked the fact that starships didn’t necessarily all share the same z-axis orientation.
  • I’ve always liked Romulans as bad guys. They’re dark reflections of the Vulcans, in that they’re thorough where Vulcans are logical, and utterly ruthless where the Vulcans are detatched. Eric Bana in particular seems to measure his emotions, unleashing his rage at key points rather than ranting and raving at every turn. Such controlled megalomania makes him a more compelling villain.
  • I didn’t even recognize Winona Ryder. This was a good thing.

Stuff I Loved

  • I’ve established in previous reviews that actors that inhabit their characters make a movie much more watchable. Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai springs to mind. He’s not Tom Cruise in that movie. Likewise, the actors in Star Trek don’t just honor the iconic characters they portray. They become them. From Chris Pine’s star-making turn as James Tiberius Kirk to Anton Yelchin’s adorable Chekov, they remind us in every frame that this is not a send-up. This is not a parody. This is Star Trek as we’ve never seen it, and possibly, the way Gene Roddenberry envisioned it.
  • The Enterprise feels huge. The engineering sets seem to be pulled right out of Crimson Tide. Even the little bit of the Kelvin we see in the opening sequence makes it clear that Starfleet vessels are military ones.
  • The opening sequence. It could have been played cheesily but is played straight, and drives home the humanity of the characters and immediately takes hold of our attentions.
  • Have I mentioned how fantastic the actors are in this? Again, things could have been done to make this a parody of the original series, but Chris Pine in particular channels Kirk’s swagger, self-confidence and smarts without making us laugh at his speech patterns. Zachary Quinto is going to be wearing those pointed ears for quite a while, and it’s clear why Leonard Nimoy gave Sylar Zachary his blessing, spread fingers and all. Karl Urban is very comfortable as McCoy and clearly happy not having to grunt and swing a sword to earn his lunch. Everybody does a great job.
  • Time travel has been used as a plot device on multiple occasions by Star Trek. The fact that the time travel in this case is not only accidental, but carries shades of actual relativistic physics – two ships go in at the same time, but emerge at different points in the past – actually makes a lot of sense, and branching universe theory promises to carry this ship and crew, and us along with them, into a place where Star Trek has never gone before. And if this film is any indication, that journey will indeed be bold.


  1. You mentioned that you didn’t like that red matter wasn’t explained… I actually liked that it wasn’t. If they’d tried to explain it and fucked it up, which they inevitably would have, it would have caused all kinds of fridge logic and therefore whiney movie-goers. Keeping it open meant they couldn’t screw it up, though it does make you wonder…

    (Another reason I actually liked their handling of time travel. Now, if anyone in the future manages to save the dark elda- er… Romulans’ planet, and they still maintain that everything in the parallel universe happened without giving a new reason for the time travel and Nero going bonkers, THEN I will bitch. However, it’s good right now.)

  2. Red matter was one of my jargon issues. I think the ice monsters were unnecessary. They didn’t add anything to the movie but budget justification.

    I loved the cast. I don’t often say that, especially in sci-fi. I think the opening sequence was basically its own short movie, and I just didn’t really feel it as necessary, or even really part of the actual arc.

  3. I gotta go with Danielle on the Red Matter. You think they really would have explained it in a way that would make sense to the average moviegoer, and yet not piss off every astrophysicist out there? I’m okay with “magic red goo that breaks shit”. It is Star Trek, after all.

    And the time travel was convenient in that they covered the whole “we broke stuff by going back in time, so this reality will be different from the canon universe”. Never having watched most of the old stuff, I like this. =)

    And I can’t say enough about the actors. They made this movie for me more than anything else.

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