Just back from seeing the new Star Trek flick with the kids and some friends, I have to say that I was not disappointed. Or, as the other mom in our little group put it, “Hey! This is actually a good movie!”
The kids, big fans of director JJ Abrams, tell me that Abrams has said the goal was to make a movie, not “a Star Trek movie.” For that I am grateful — because I hate the Star Trek movies. (Yes, even Wrath of Khan!) I am, as I have mentioned before, one of the original Trekkies, who watched the show for the character relationships, the science, and the social commentary (who was it who said science fiction is the modern equivalent of philosophy?), not the fight scenes. The special effects of the previous Star Trek movies never thrilled me — and watching the original cast grow old and creaky was just sad.
Here we have the best of all worlds: the familiar characters, played by young, vigorous actors who don’t get winded after a chase. The special effects were seamless, not distracting — I didn’t even mind that the bridge had been “updated.” Abrams took the liberty of adding in more aliens to the crew. (That may have its roots in the most recent series Enterprise, which the kids used to like but which I found mostly unwatchable. That Vulcan supermodel was particularly annoying.) And here too, the makeup was fantastic … leading me to wonder why nobody in the 23rd century can get a decent shave. (I won’t even mention the fact that giving birth in the 23rd century is exactly the same as in mid-20th century sitcoms, complete with the yelling mother-to-be in a wheelchair and her gowned attendants. GeekMoms, you know what I’m talking about.)
I liked the story twists, enjoying the satisfaction of watching the old characters and their relationships fall into place. (The kids were hoping for more Abrams “mystery.”) The best reinterpretation, for my money, was Simon Pegg as Scottie., though Chris Pine did an admirable job of throwing in a Shatnerism here and there without going overboard.
One noticeable difference in this Star Trek was the women. It’s nice to see that Uhura (Zoe Saldana) got a promotion from receptionist to linguist. Don’t look for Nurse Chapel or Ensign Rand, though. But if the eye candy was lacking, so were any other strong women characters. (I’m not counting Madea as a Star Fleet Academy Admiral.) Guess I’ll have to wait until they make a movie of Deep Space Nine.
But enough of the female point of view. What did the kids think? My two sci-fi lovers (16 and 13) and their more eclectic friend (also 13) all thought the movie was great. If you’re trying to figure out if this is a movie to take your own kids to, Todd Dailey’s earlier post gives a good analysis — although I think younger kids will find it too intense. (As my 13-year-old commented, “I wouldn’t take my kid to see it.”)
However, for older kids or those with a high threshold for action scenes, this movie is a classy alternative to some of the kid-level sci-fi out there. GeekTeen John predicts that “This movie will really get kids interested in the Star Trek franchise.”