So I just saw the new Star Trek flick. So this is my obligatory review. I say obligatory just because there have already been about a gazillion other reviews out there, and I seriously doubt I have much to say that hasn't been said before. Nonethless, it won't surprise anyone to hear that I have some opinions, and I feel a bit compelled to record them now after seeing the movie (it could always be fun to look back at this a couple of years down the road after I've had more of a chance to think about the flick- I only saw it an hour before writing this).
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS! (I tried not to totally ruin any surprises, but read at your own risk).
Well, overall, the movie was pretty enjoyable. It was a fun ride. Kind of hyperkinetic and dizzying, but a fun ride. For a guy who's tried to paint the impression that he's not really a longtime Trek fan and doesn't feel beholden to the Star Trek franchise of the past, director J.J. Abrams has a pretty good feel for the characters, and he spends a lot of time developing them and building relationships between them. A huge part of the fun involved with the movie is in seeing the early, formative years of Kirk, Uhura, Spock, Sulu, and the rest, and in seeing them develop some of the relationships between them.
Abrams does a pretty good job of preserving the overall feel of the characters, while leaving open the possibility that things are a little different this time, because the plot, after all, involves shifts in the space-time continuum that are clearly causing some events in this new Trek universe to be different from the one that we're used to (Abrams feels free to destroy some locations in this movie that are important in the other franchises right up to and through Next Generation and Voyager- shows that occur much later in the Trek universe timeline than this movie- so while the movie has a rich sense of tradition, there are definitely some big changes that are made to the Trek universe in this movie). Heck, right in the dialogue of the movie they go out of their way to realize aloud that the timeline has been changed and that an alternate reality has been created.
The special effects are pretty cool, the acting is pretty decent, and the battle scenes are well done.
My main complaint witht he movie is that the overall story arc is pretty weak. Not the background and the character development for our main characters, but the story that provides the conflict- the bad guy and his background and his motives. The whole bad guy agenda just doesn't make much sense (or really any sense at all). His motivation seems to essentially amount to someone who's throwing a tantrum, and it seems hard to imagine someone commanding the loyalty of a crew when they don't have very good reasons for doing all of this dangerous, horrific stuff. Also, we've seen something very similar to the film's antagonist, Romulan Captain Nero, in a prior Trek movie which was largely panned by critics and rejected by audiences- Star Trek: Nemesis. In Nemesis a bunch of renegade Romulans (well, technically members of a Romulan subspecies, if you want to totally geek out) team up with a Picard clone named Shinzon and set course for Earth with a weapon of mass destruction and a plan to destroy the whole planet. To an extent, Nero just felt a lot like Shinzon 2.0 to me.
In our current movie I'm not even sure why the Romulans are attacking Earth. I understand, insofar as a mediocre explanation was given, why they have attacked their initial target (see, not saying what it is- I told you I'd try to avoid spoilers!), but I guess we're just supposed to assume that they're attacking Earth because they're not particularly selective when they vent their anger? The motivation there was sort of murky, and Nero just seemed very, very familiar as a villain.
I'm also still not exactly clear why Kirk remained captain of the Enterprise at the conclusion of the movie. He was given command temporarily, and that sort of made sense, but it wasn't exactly clear why he got to keep it, given that at least one other key player seemed next in line for the job.
And there's other stuff, too (for example, Nero did some nasty stuff to one of the characters, and the outcome of that course of action was never fully shown or explained).
It's a fast, adventurous, whiz bang, golly jeepers sort of ride, and it doesn't really lend itself to overanalysis. On the other hand, Trek fans tend to pick things apart and study them for years and years. Decades and decades. Even though this movie is a roller coaster of a good time (feeling more like Star Wars than Star Trek in many ways, as our waitress pointed out before the movie started), I think that some of the holes that seem to exist in the movie's logic might be the kind of thing that Trekkies talk about for years (dare I say these sorts of flaws in logic could even separate the movie from being considered a Trek classic by the Trek fans as opposed to a more popularly successful film with less staying power over the long haul?).
In the end, though, I think that the character development, action sequences, and the fairly strong acting will probably keep this movie a fan favorite for a long time to come. And Abrams certainly left the door wide, wide open for sequels.
I have a feeling that we'll be seeing more of this Enterprise crew, and if the next movies are as good as this one, I think they'll be received with open arms.
So that's about it.
Live long and... oh, never mind.