First of all, ironically, it’d be a lot better if it had nothing to do with Star Trek. Take off the logos, the branding, the characters, the existing canon of movies, and the slavish need to adhere to the history, and it’s a perfectly serviceable, decently-exciting sci-fi movie. It’s like a slightly less silly Starship Troopers. There are some genuinely thrilling action scenes (the parachute dive from space springs to mind), some incredible CGI battles, a nice amount of new ideas, and everything looks beautiful.
If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie, you’ll also like some of the references. Chris Pine, as Kirk, is great - full of anger, likeable arrogance and does all the Shatner-style seat poses well enough for nerds to go: “Ooh. Look.” Zachary Quinto is utterly perfect as Spock, and Karl Urban is great as Bones, if underwritten. For the brief time he’s in it, Eric Bana (playing baddie Nero) chews the scenery admirably. And Pegg’s Scotty is just a comedy idiot, but he’s only in it for about three scenes, so it’s fine.
But be warned: this is no way a Star Trek movie. At least in the old sense. Instead, welcome to the New Star Trek™, aimed squarely at the teen market. Thus, it’s massively over-stylised – sometimes at the expense of emotional resonance or basic coherence. The plot, for instance, is anorexically thin and utterly meaningless: how many times have you seen “evil aliens drill to the core of a nice, gentle, peace-loving planet”? And then there’s a time travel element; unless you’re Michael J Fox, always a mistake.
Visually, while beautiful, everything is white, chrome, clean, and future-y. There’s none of the camp Star Trek fun of the original series, or even The Next Generation. Add the skintight suits, and it’s a bit like a boyband video; you keep expecting Busted to appear and start riffing on the bridge. Everyone, too, is stupidly good-looking. With the teenage, high school atmosphere at the academy, it’s very teen-soap-y. Think: an episode of Dawson’s Trek.
But I thought about it overnight, and came to the conclusion: this is arguably exactly the way they needed to take the franchise. Because for every hardened nerd who gets annoyed by it, they’re recruiting another four 14-year-olds who’ll watch the next twenty years of sequels. Cynical, deliberate, but probably for the best. If you realise that it has one aim - to introduce an entirely new audience to the franchise – and go into the cinema knowing that, then you’ll have a good time. Unlike like me: I sat there with my arms folded, tutting a lot.
One last thing: Leonard Nimoy is SO old. Seriously. He’s a like a child’s crepe paper version of Spock. He also finds it hard to speak without making a kind of “shashing” noise – I think it’s because of dentures. And bits of his scenes are weirdly out of focus. Like they were rushing to film him before he simply turned to dust and floated away. Made me a little bit sad.
Check out the trailer below: