I am sure that I don’t need to introduce this summer’s first big special effects action adventure film, Star Trek directed by J.J. Abrams. I went into this movie expecting to enjoy it. Wil Wheaton and LeVar Burton were singing its praises on Twitter. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive. I even enjoyed the only other movie that Abrams has directed (Mission Impossible III). I talked myself into thinking that it might not be what I liked about Star Trek, but it would be a fun science-fiction movie. I was wrong. It was bad. Let me explain. WARNING: Do not let me explain if you do not want to read a post full of spoilers.
Basically, the idea of the film is that a Romulan ship from the future gets thrown back in time hoping to destroy Vulcan to take revenge on Spock who failed to stop Romulus from being destroyed by a supernova. In the opening scene, he kills Kirk’s father (who was in command of the USS Kelvin) and creates an alternate universe in which no one has the same lives that they would have had in the original universe. He then manages to destroy Vulcan and almost destroys earth before Spock’s ship from the future (I think it was called the USS Deus ex Machina) is able to blow him to smithereens.
There are too many things wrong with this movie for me to go into depth, so I will try to be concise on the ten biggest ones that I can think of right now.
Gripe #1: Idiotic science
J.J. Abrams does not know or does not care about science. Black holes are not literally holes. They are massive objects that suck in all matter and energy in their reach. You cannot escape one by detonating antimatter inside it. You cannot travel through time just by falling into one. (See also: #2 and #7)
Gripe #2: Internal inconsistencies
When the Romulans attack Vulcan, it takes the Enterprise 3 minutes to reach Vulcan from earth at maximum warp. Since Vulcan is 16 lightyears from Earth, this means that they were traveling at nearly 3 million times the speed of light (1500x faster than the Enterprise-D). On the return trip, they have time to dick around and drop Kirk off on Delta Vega (a planet on the edge of the galaxy, by the way) and then pick him up again quite some time later and they still show up at Earth before the ship from the future with a much more sophisticated warp drive has time to do anything.
Gripe #3: Goofy character introductions
Sulu leaves the parking brake on. Scotty is crazy. Chekov has a monologue peppered with as many “V” sounds that he can turn into “W”s as possible (example: “ewacuate”). The computer fails to recognize an access code because he can’t pronounce his “V”s.
Gripe #4: Sexism
This movie has been updated out the wazoo, but the women are still wearing miniskirts. Uhura has a very thin excuse for being involved in the movie, but mostly she’s just there to take off her clothes and make out with Spock every once in a while. She wasn’t treated that badly in the ’60s and that’s saying something.
Gripe #5: Unnecessary monsters
J.J. Abrams seems to have some kind of monster fetish. Keep your Cloverfield out of my Star Trek!
Gripe #6: BOOOORING
All in all, there isn’t a whole lot of action that takes place in this movie. There are a couple of little space battles and a fist fight or three, but mostly it’s just a bunch of talking. Abrams tries to distract you with the blinding lens flare so that you think that something is happening. It’s also possible that John Carpenter was hiding just off camera.
Gripe #7: Did I mention Delta Vega?
So Delta Vega is on the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy and Vulcan is about 16 lightyears from Earth (orbiting 40 Eridani-A). This puts Delta Vega about 75,000 lightyears away from Vulcan. When Vulcan is being destroyed, however, Spock is standing on the Delta Vega surface, watching the event. Vulcan appears to be hundreds of times larger in the sky than the moon is in our sky.
Gripe #8: Madea’s Starfleet Academy.
Who let Tyler Perry into this movie?
Gripe #9: Man-sized blender
Who designed the ship’s plumbing? Why was it the only futuristic thing in the factory floor of an engineering deck? Why was it designed to puree anyone who got stuck inside? Why did J.J. Abrams make us watch that scene?
Gripe #10: Sabotage
I’m sorry, but in the enlightened utopia that Gene Rodenberry imagined, there is no chance that they would still be listening to The Beasty Boys.
A bonus nitpick
When Kirk jumps to a lower platform in the Romulan ship, you can see a disruptor pistol on the ground. After a Romulan picks him up and begins strangling him, he pulls out the guard’s gun and shoots him, dropping it as he falls to the edge again. This is the gun we saw on the floor before and it is now in the exact same position it was before the tussle.
UPDATE: Gripe #11: Spock’s hot mom
Julie pointed out in her comment below that I forgot to mention Winona Ryder as Spock’s mom. It was actually quite distracting, because the whole time, I kept thinking, “why the hell did they cast Winona and then put old makeup on her?”
A little praise
Overall, the acting was pretty good. I think that most of the problems with the characters were thanks to the writing and directing. I really don’t mind that cast as the new interpretations of the classic Star Trek characters, though they really need to get George Takei to record Sulu’s voice in ADR.