What’s Wrong With Star Trek?

StarTrek_2009Movie

Everybody and their mother loved J.J. Abrhams’ STAR TREK.  Critics are calling it the ‘movie to beat for the summer’ and many of my friends have hailed it as ‘this year’s DARK KNIGHT’.  Oh sure the Trekkies are complaining about minor plot details and inconsistencies and just about anything else in the film that doesn’t match their personal vision of the perfect TREK film, but that’s just what they do isn’t it? Everybody else is coming all over this thing like its Megan Fox lying naked on a beach.

But not me.  I didn’t get it.  Not at all.  I wouldn’t call it a bad movie, just a mediocre one.  It’s a hell of a lot better than X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (Fucking mouthful of a title), but that’s not saying much.  So, because I am in the minority, I am not going to attempt to figure out why people loved it so much.  Instead, here is my attempt to figure out just why exactly I didn’t have the same reaction as apparently the rest of the human race.  I feel left out and need to bring my feelings to light in order to get to the heart of the matter.

So just what the hell was it about the film that left me so cold? Perhaps it’s the source material itself.  I’ve never been a fan of STAR TREK in any of its incarnations.  I’ve seen all the movies and enjoyed a few of them, but I’ve always found the whole thing to be kind of…well…trite.  Sorry Trek Fans (they really hate the term Trekkies and I’m sure I’ll piss them off enough in the rest of this review), but the story of some spaceship exploring a bunch of other planets and fighting with different alien races has always just felt bland to me.  The metaphors about different planets and their inhabitants were always obvious at best and all the characters were one-note caricatures.  Bones is cranky, Spock has a hard time feeling emotion,  Kirk is adventurous, Scotty is quirky and so on and so forth.  They all have one emotion that clashes with the others on board so all conflict between them involves switching up which other character they’re arguing with.  No one ever grows as a human being (or Vulcan) or makes any drastic changes to their personality.  I suppose some fans are comforted by knowing that their treasured characters will never change, but I don’ t know, I like when characters develop and mature so they’re completely different than when we first got to know them.  But that’s just me. 

Maybe it’s the conventions of the TREK-verse.  I hate the shields.  Fucking hate those goddamn, useless, plot-halting shields that never protect the ship for more than thirty seconds.  How many characters in how many TREK films or TV episodes have gone through the following dialogue exchange: ‘Put the Shields up!’  *BAM* CRASH*CAMERA TILT* ‘Shields are down!’.  When in the hell is Star Fleet going to get round to making some shields that actually shield their precious space cruisers? Fix the fucking things already! Hasn’t anybody learned their lesson?  Then there’s beaming and warp speed.  Both devices (like the shields) are just ways for the writers to move the plot along without having to make their characters travel absurdly long distances.  They may service the plot, but they take away from the wonder and majesty of space travel.  There’s no wonder in any of the character’s eyes as they travel vast distances in seconds flat.  No sense of awe as they pass by another planet.  No sense of the sheer vastness of outer space.  It makes space travel seem trivial.  And those phasers! Over thirty years later and they still look like child’s toys.

Maybe it’s my poor attitude.  But hey, I don’t care for James Bond either and I fucking loved CASINO ROYALE (QUANTUM OF SOLACE not so much).  I went into the film with an open mind hoping for two things: (1) a thoughtful science fiction film that hearkened back to the days when the original show provided some political and social commentary,  (2) a fun, rip-roaring, action packed space opera.  Call me an asshole, but I felt cheated on both fronts.  There was no political, social, allegorical or any other kind of commentary going on in this film.  At all.  I didn’t even get a sense of what Star Fleet was or why they were even interested in exploring the universe.  And the Vulcans felt redundant.  They’re a poor metaphor for any form of human life, not just because there are actual humans in the film, but also because their notions about emotions seem so arbitrary and are only there to service the plot.  And I’m sorry, but the  ears are fucking goofy looking.  So is the hair.

So how about that fun space opera? Eh, not so much.  I had a decent time; the action was solid and many sequences were suspenssful, but nothing truly awe inspiring came across my eye.  Many of the sequences felt like they were just there to keep the plot from moving forward.  Like Kirk being chased by a bunch of monsters on the ice planet.  Why did we need that? We know he’s going to get away, it’s not connected to any of the main action sequences, it’s just there to show off some cool creatures and prevent Kirk from getting back to the main story.  It bored me. 

Maybe it’s the fact that I cannot help but compare the film to my own personal favorite space opera show, FIREFLY.  FIREFLY had characters with specific quirks, but they were changed and tested in interesting ways.  It was also filled with ideas about outer space and the future while maintaining a goofy sense of fun.  STAR TREK has no ideas.  And I suppose people will argue with me and say that Spock and Kirk both change throughout the course of the film.  This is true, but they only change enough so J.J. Abrhams and his screen writers can have them as what all fans remember them to be at the end of the film.  He just brings them back to status quo.

Maybe it was the screenplay that drove me nuts.  All the time travel stuff didn’t make a lick of sense and seemed only like an excuse to bring Leanord Nimoy into the story.  And the whole thing was rushed as hell.  They join the academay, get on ship, argue with each other, fight some pissed off alien dude,  Kirk and Spock come to an understanding, and then they’re all assembled in the exact posisitons they were in the TV show, the end.  And you can argue with me about Spock and Kirk changing, I’ll give you that, but not about anyone else.  All other characters just perform their stock character quirks and then recede into the background.

Maybe it was the acting.  Karl Urban impressed me with his imitation of DeForest Kelly, but that’s all it was.  And, frankly, that’s all everyone in the film did; act like the other actors who had come before.  When did it become impressive or note-worthy for an actor to simply copy someone else’s performance?  Chris Pine wasn’t bad as Kirk.  He made me laugh a few times and seemed to want to create his own character, but he was bogged down by the universe he’s stuck in.  Zach Quinto wasn’t bad either (Much better here than on HEROES) but he too felt restrained by everyone’s preconceived notions of what Spock should be.

IS THAT SHATNER???trek

Maybe it was the villain.  I didn’t find Eric Bana’s Nero to be an interesting antagonist at all.  All he is is a bitter Romulan with a big ship and an even bigger grudge.  Also, a misguided grudge.  He isn’t clever or manipulative like the Joker.  He just wants to blow up planets.  Yawn.

I’m Very Meannero

I give up.  There are too many thoughts rolling through my head.  I think I was simply destined to not like this movie; I’m too opposed to the universe it takes place in.  STAR TREK just isn’t for me.  I like my science-fiction to make me think.  I eagerly await MOON, staring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut who has been monitoring a space station alone for over two years and chronicles his possible descent into madness.  That sounds interesting to me.  It sounds though-provoking.  It sounds like it treats space with the awe, terror and grandeur it deserves.  And I need to see a film like that.  Becuase this one just didn’t do it for me.

I guess I’ll never be a Trekkie.

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2 Responses to “What’s Wrong With Star Trek?”

  1. When u gonna talk about PAMs?

  2. Derek Nehring Says:

    i have friends that have seen it like around five times… and truthfully i just don’t get it. I mean it looked, from what i have seen, to be alright…BUT not jump out of the page awesome like UP. I never really got star trek anyway….. I mean its Mass Effect for kids : /

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