Much like ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise,’ I’ve always thought that the eleventh Star Trek feature film would be very tough to write about. Now, that’s not really a negative remark but rather just referring to how there is so much going on. Well, at least I’ll have a lot to talk about. I am a JJ Abrams believer. What he has done with Star Trek after the disastrous Insurrection and Nemesis is nothing short of amazing. He has given Star Trek a facelift, he’s given it a brand new life…all the while retaining all of the things that made you fall in love with Star Trek in the first place. Now, that’s my opinion of course since I know many hardcore Star Trek fans disagree. I am a fan of Star Trek in all of its incarnations and love to see it continuing to evolve into new things. Star Trek should never have to stick to a formula since it’s such a huge universe to play with.
Yes, the cast is younger and sexier, yes things look way more slick and new, and yes I love what JJ has done. It really takes some balls to do what Abrams has done with Star Trek. We’re talking about doing things that no other director would have had the guts to do. Just think about the fact that Abrams actually destroyed the planet Vulcan. The creative team found a marvelous way to start brand new and still make sure that everything that happened in TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise, still happens. Time travel has just changed things and now you could say that it’s an alternate reality. I look forward to Abrams and whoever takes the helm of the next Trek film, play with the expectations of how things should be and how different this new timeline can be.
Sure, I’m not a huge fan of Kirk becoming Captain so quick. I don’t even think he graduates from Starfleet and yet here he is, on his first mission he inherits the Captain’s chair of the Enterprise. I would have loved to see him work his way up from Ensign to maybe tactical officer, first officer and then Captain, or something like that. Instead, he is forced to grow up much faster and becomes Captain Kirk that much faster. While watching this movie for the first time, I didn’t really consider myself a huge Trek fan. Well, this movie converted me and I believe I saw it three times in the theater alone (something that is so rare nowadays). Even though the plot involved time travel, I was never too confused by JJ’s new Trek and new universe.
I think about the opening of the film and how I should be so confused. We have an Indian Captain, and once he is out of the picture, Kirk becomes the Captain. Now this isn’t James T. Kirk of course but rather it’s his father George Kirk. I don’t really remember if I knew that at the time, until of course baby Kirk was born, then I was caught up. While the film is sometimes confusing, at least to first time viewers, it does use things like that to bring the crowd back in and somewhat explain things. This happens later in the film as well when Prime Spock mind melds with Kirk and explains the whole time travel plot and why the Romulan Nero is so pissed. Sure, there were some big coincidences to actually get to the ice planet Delta Vega and to Prime Spock as well as to Scotty, but it never seemed to bother me as much as it did others.
Above all, I love how the film returned to those original Star Trek routes and put the focus back squarely on Kirk and Spock. This is their story and about watching that lifelong friendship being formed. Now of course, things don’t start out that way and the characters don’t really like each other at first. Filling in the back stories and seeing a young Spock with all the confusion of being half-Vulcan, half-human, yeah that was a great exploration into the character and into something that perhaps was previously brushed off. Spock’s doubt at the beginning of the film, gave me a real source of empathy for the character and you really sensed that loneliness as you also saw so much confusion with such an iconic character.
Kirk is nowhere near where he was at the beginning of the original series and the historic five-year mission has not yet taken place. I love the idea of this new Kirk, a Kirk so deeply affected by the death of his father, a Kirk being mentored by Captain Pike, I love the idea of him growing into that role and becoming that seasoned Captain, ready to lead his crew of hundreds. What Abrams has done is amazing and where he can go from here, well that’s anywhere. Everything has changed, well not everything since the Botany Bay and Khan is still out there floating in space, but the point is that things don’t have to take place in the same way anymore. In fact, there’s no way that they should. When we get to the end of the film and Spock begins ‘The final frontier’ speech…GOOSEBUMPS! I and the rest of the audience is extremely pumped up. The crew is set and I’m just ready to see things go on and to join the crew in their next adventure. So while it’s a shame that the movie ends, it’s always great when you’re left thirsty and wanting to immediately see more. I still stick to my phasers that JJ Abrams has pulled a magic trick. He has opened the door to such a huge universe for me and he has made me a believer.