Thoughts on Star Trek

As briefly mentioned earlier, Prairie and I went out to see Star Trek on Friday evening, and, long story short: given the unenviable and potentially disastrous goal of reinvigorating a much-beloved but floundering and stagnant franchise that most people had written off as long past its prime, J.J. Abrams and company managed to beat the odds and pull it off with style. In the many long months leading up to the release of the film, I’d wanted it to be good, I’d hoped it would be good, and as we got closer, the many outstanding reviews gave me hope — and for once, I wasn’t let down.

Non-spoilery Rambling

The biggest question, of course — beyond even the redesign of the Enterprise and her big nacelles, or how well the story would mesh with established canon — was whether recasting characters that we’ve known for so many decades would even work. Could they manage to be the characters without either slavishly aping the original actors, or fall into parody? Would Kirk be Kirk without Shatner’s (not quite) inimitable delivery?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. As I’ve been thinking back over the film over the past couple days, the biggest thing that stands out to me is just how incredibly well the cast did at inhabiting the essence of the characters and their personalities without falling into the trap of mimicking the original actors. Pine, Quinto and Urban as the “holy trinity” of Kirk, Spock and McCoy likely had the toughest jobs in making us believe in them as the characters, but all three of them (along with the rest of the primary cast) managed to make me a believer.

Given that much of what was done in this film was necessary to ‘reset’ the franchise so that they could move forward from here without being trapped by canon — really, I don’t quite understand how people can be upset about the device used to reset things, as without that, we’d know the future of the characters and there wouldn’t be much long-term suspense or real sense of danger — I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here on out.

I want to see this movie in the theater again, I want to have it at home to watch again, and I already can’t wait to see what this team can do with the sequel, when they’re free to move forward.

More thoughts under the cut, as they’re going to be more than a little spoileriffic…

Spoilery Rambling

Much of the fun in being a Trekkie is the enjoyable dichotomy of thoroughly loving the universe, characters, and events as presented in the movies and shows, and simultaneously dissecting them, finding inconsistencies, goofs and gaffes, and various other wierdnesses contained therein. In that vein, then…well, actually, I don’t have that many quibbles with the film. Of course, there are some….

  • The Orion cadet.

    • Minor: she looked odd. I’m not sure if it was having curly red hair instead of long, straight jet-black hair, or if she was just the wrong color green (she looked too light to me), but somehow, she just didn’t quite look right to me. And yes, if nothing else has ever convinced you, that should be enough to bang the final nail in my geek coffin (that said, if I’m going to “bang the final nail,” what better way than with a green-skinned Orion girl, amiright?).

    • Not quite as minor: In (“The Menagerie” and) “The Cage” (TOS), which (in the original timeline) takes place in 2254, Orion women are described as “slave girls,” “like animals. Vicious, seductive.” Also in the original timeline, in 2268 an Orion spy attempted to disrupt the Babel Conference. Yet in the new timeline, in 2258 there is at least one Orion Starfleet cadet. Apparently, one of the (many) repercussions from the destruction of the Kelvin was improved relations with and knowledge of the Orion people!

  • The Romulans

    • This is probably my biggest question of the new movie, and one big reason I’d like a little more background of just what happened during the 25 years between the timeline split in 2233 and the primary events of the movie in 2258. In the original timeline, there was no visual contact between the Romulans and the Federation until 2266 — all prior contact had been audio-only. At first, I thought the film might try to stay consistent with canon in this respect, as there was no mention of Romulans during the encounter between the Narada and the Kelvin in the opening sequence. However, by the midpoint of the movie, and before Spock Prime reveals Nero’s backstory to Kirk, everyone is talking about battling the Romulans. There’s obviously been some sort of fairly monumental change regarding relations between the Romulan Empire and the Federation in this new timeline, and I’m curious as to what it was.

      The best ‘retconning’ I’ve found for this so far comes from ‘Closettrekker’ in comment #47 on this TrekMovie post:

      The bridge crew of the USS Kelvin is aware of what their attackers look like, and only George Kirk does not escape. There is a 25 year period in which the Federation can piece together enough evidence to conclude that the crew of the Narada is indeed Romulan, and that Romulans are likely an offshoot of the Vulcan race.

      First of all, the treaty to end the Earth-Romulan War was negotiated by subspace communication. Presumably, the Kelvin’s universal translator would have registered Ayel’s language as Romulan, and assuming the Kelvin’s communications officer was one of the survivors—that gives Starfleet a clear direction in which to take its investigation into the attack.

      Furthermore, there would be debris in the area of the Kelvin’s collision with the Narada that might also provide evidence of something that identifies that technology/material as being Romulan in origin.

      So even if you were to ignore all of the obvious holes in the dialogue of “Balance Of Terror” and accept it as a literal account of that 22nd Century conflict, there is still no canonical contradiction to that in ST09.

  • Spock Prime ‘witnessing’ Vulcan’s destruction

    • This actually didn’t bug me very much. As we ‘see’ this during Spock Prime’s mind meld with Kirk, I simply assumed that this was a combination of storyteller’s license and Kirk’s impressions of what Spock experienced, and that Spock didn’t actually physically see the destruction of Vulcan. There are far too many reasons why that wouldn’t have happened exactly as depicted on screen, not least that Delta Vega would have to be one of Vulcan’s moons for Spock to get a view like that. My interpretation was that Spock ‘felt’ the destruction of his race in much the same way that he felt the destruction of the USS Intrepid in “The Immunity Syndrome“, and the on-screen depiction was Kirk’s interpretation of the mental trauma Spock experienced at that point.

I’m sure there’s more that I haven’t touched on, but those are the three major things that are rattling around in my brain at the moment. Anything else I should try to puzzle out?