What did we think of Star Trek when we first saw it? I'm running into time constraints the next couple of weeks, so I'll be reposting some of my favorite posts from the past. This one is from 2009.

Q: What’d you think of the new “Star Trek” movie?

Nigel: I will say that I thought it was excellent and also very provocative for the hardcore fans.
Maurice: In a word: Awesome. It jumped into my top ten list and is the best star trek movie since “Wrath of Khan”. While some of hardcore fans lament that change in tone of the characters (Spock more emotional, Kirk more rebellious) I think it works really well in making the characters deeper and more interesting.
Nigel: I agree, it was an excellent “Star Trek” movie, definitely in second place in my opinion of all-time best.

Q: What do you think of the changes to the characters?

Maurice: I really liked the way they were handled. I thought all the characters were different, but truer to the essence of themselves. Uhura is a perfect example. In the old series, she was a glorified phone operator. Her character was basically “I have Starfleet on the line.” They gave her a background in xeno-linguistics and all that stuff, but none of it was on the screen. In the new movie, she was definitely more complex and capable than the old series character. She was also sexier and her quiet confidence from the old series became more arrogance. I liked it. It’s true that Spock was more emotional, but the old series always established that he struggled to control his emotions more than other Vulcans. That struggle was just more to the surface in this movie. Kirk was more rebellious, but (again) the old series always established him as a rebel. I think “Star Trek” just took the personalities that existed from the old series and made them stronger and more complex. Then you also have to consider that these are younger versions of the old series, so are less controlled. How about you?
Nigel: That was my take too. Maybe Spock learned to control himself when he got older and Kirk learned how to play by some of the rules. It works and frankly Spock never seemed all that different from other Vulcans before. Now he stands out from them. Uhuru was great really well done. A great homage to the character. And her relationship with Spock just gave a whole new layer to each character. We could go on and on with the other characters.

Q: Ok. Who’s your second favorite character besides the "Big Three"?
Nigel: If you count the Big Three as Kirk, Spock, and Bones, then I would have to go with Uhura. She was cool. I never thought of Uhura as hot before, but she was in this movie. If we count Uhura as a Big Three, then I would say Scotty was my next favorite. They really took him and made him an eclectic character that’s way more interesting and funny than the original Mister Scott.

Speaking of Uhura’s relationship with Spock, I was just blown away by the romantic angle. I was trying to explain the significance to my wife, and she didn’t get it. I mean, just the fact that Spock was romantically involved with anyone outside of his mating season was a bold change to the character. And then: Uhura? I can’t think of any more surprising pairing they could have made in the series, short of having Kirk and Spock fall in love...and I would even consider that slightly less shocking than Uhura and Spock.

Q: What was your take on the destruction of Vulcan?
Maurice: I won’t get into the fan fiction I’ve heard about Kirk and Spock (gross) but I agree it really was amazing. I also like that it wasn’t just a gimmick. It felt genuine. The loss of Vulcan was shocking and bold. Very nice and gave the entire race a purpose other than just “Spock's race”.
Nigel: I have to say, I thought the destruction of Vulcan was the most bold and (to me) controversial move. I’d call it a kick to the crotch of every hardcore Star Trek fan. That’s because the Vulcans are one of the three big alien races in Trek; human, Vulcan, Klingon. By destroying Vulcan and most of the Vulcan race, the power and importance of the race is diminished, and establishes that this universe will never be the old Trek universe. I expected by the end of the movie to have them go back in time and save the Vulcan world, and couldn’t believe it ended that way. Bold move.

Q: What about the special effects?

Maurice: The special effects were dynamite to me. Subtle in spots and bold in others.
Nigel: I had no problem with the special effects, but I saw the movie on a drive-in screen, so it was kind of hard to make out sometimes. I do like that they gave the movie a more realistic feel - like the engine room wasn’t just a comfortable little room, but a huge and sprawling chamber of pipes and tubing. Sort of the “Lord of the Rings” approach to “Star Trek.”

Q: What did you think of the story?
Maurice: Phenomenal. I thought it was a perfect way to start. It was a world expanding romp through space and time. Plenty of action even when none was necessary (ex. Scotty stuck in a pipe).
Nigel: I agree about the plot. I thought it was very well constructed. I never realized how badly most Star Trek stories are written until this one. Most “Trek” stories tend to rely on some technological McGuffin (i.e. “We’re trapped in this solar system. Let’s rig the ship’s warp drive to the teleporter and beam the whole ship out!”) to solve the problem. This movie was more accessible with solutions based on the characters’ ingenuity, not their technology. Spock shooting Kirk onto another planet was awesome.
Maurice: Plot was dynamite to me too (“beam the whole ship out” LOL). It had lots of twists and turns without being cartoonish. The Kirk thing was great too.

Q: One article listed Nero as one of the top ten Star Trek villains. Was Nero one of the best villains in trek?
Nigel: Honestly, I didn’t think Nero was that great a villain. He had great weapons and great ambition, but other than that, he didn’t stick in my mind. You can’t credit him for the great weapons because he was from the future - he was more advanced and powerful by default. I really thought they could’ve done better, but the villain was kind of incidental to the story. The biggest obstacles to the heroes’ goals were the heroes themselves.
Maurice: I thought Nero was pretty good actually. Menacing and driven with a kick of a back story. You’re right about the technology, of course, but even then I liked him.

Q: How about the Kobayashi Maru bit?
Nigel: I know they established that Kirk was the only one to beat the Kobyashi maru by sabotaging the test, but it was still cool to see how it all played out. Having Spock the designer of the test was a hoot.

I agree that there was a really nice mix of old and new to help ground the series in reality. He’s driving a vintage sports car through a corn field while being chased by a cop on a hover bike. The most advanced spaceship in the galaxy looked like a boiler room in the lower decks.

The list of nods to the original series could fill a book. Besides the obvious quotes (“I’m giving it all she’s got captain!”) there are the less obvious ones: The worm implanted in the victim, Pike in a wheelchair, Kirk with a green babe. Plenty for everyone.

Q: Final Rating?
Maurice: Me, I’m giving it four and a half out of five. Solid plotting, great acting and plenty for the whole family. You?
Nigel: I would agree with that rating. Four half stars out of five.

FINAL RATING: ****1/2 out of *****
What did you think of Star Trek (2009)?
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AlexJCavanaugh said...

Agree with most of that. They did a really good job rebooting the series by creating something new bu believable. Time paradoxes aren't new to the Trek world but they designed this one well. Looking forward to the next movie!

Michael Offutt said...

I agree with what you've said. I'll have to look up the kirk and spock fanfiction. If you say it's gross it's probably M/M which I read and don't think is gross.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Alex, the new movies are going to set a new standard for Star Trek which opens it up for new viewers. I hope Shatner is in the sequel somehow.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Glad you liked the review Michael! Can't wait for your review of the new one.


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