Star Trek: Into Confused Disappointment

Posted on 14/05/2013 by


I’m going to preface this by saying I liked it. I did. Sort of. Also that there might be minor spoilers below.

Okay. So. If what you’re looking for is a movie with lots of explosions and chase scenes — sure, go for it. This movie is your baby. If you were maybe hoping for character development, genuine emotion, coherent plot… not so much.

I know, I know that a part of my disappointment comes from the fact that I really liked the first movie. Star Trek introduced an ensemble cast, offered homage to the original material, provided great action and adventure, powerful emotion and spectacular characterisation and relationships.

This movie… used the same actors?

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. But let’s work through it:

First off, the thing you’d think would be hard to get wrong — the explosions. They were pretty, sure. But a number of the action sequences seemed to go on too long without developing into anything new or advancing the plot. It was flashy but it was hard to stay invested.

Homage? Well, like last time it had quite a few references to the original series, however instead of being well-incorporated nods like in the first movie they felt rather artificial. And almost invariably provoked laughter from the audience. Which, given they were mostly meant to be emotional moments, was maybe not what they were going for.

Which leaves us with characters and relationships. And, okay, this was the biggest thing for me.

Firstly, this film didn’t really use the incredible characters it introduced so beautifully in the first film. They’re all still there but several of them don’t seem to really do anything. At the same time they introduced a new character to the crew who was really irrelevant to the plot and rather two dimensional. It’s like the film makers forgot what these characters are supposed to mean to one another, how they’re supposed to work together.

Instead, the film highlighted the developing friendship between Kirk and Spock and the ongoing relationship between Spock and Uhura and largely ignored everything else. As if they decided this was going to be the Kirk & Spock show, and sense and practicality could fall by the wayside.

Seriously. In one instance where Kirk is injured those on the scene called Spock (who was busy captaining the ship) to come down and help instead of, oh, I don’t know, Bones, who is a doctor. It made about as much sense as — no. No sense. It made no sense.

Not only is Bones not in that scene I am actually having a hard time remembering if there’s ever a point where Kirk, Spock and Bones are all in the same scene together. And yet the intersection of these three characters is what made Star Trek work so well and what made the original version of that scene so powerful.

“I always thought about it more like it was the dialectic of a human being,” Pine says. …. “You have Spock as the cold reason, you had the passion of Jim Kirk, and then you had the ironic sarcasm of McCoy, which gave the whole thing levity. That dynamic was beautiful.” (Chris Pine, who plays Kirk in the Star Trek reboot, quoted in Out)


To add insult to injury the two relationships that they did choose to highlight were mismanaged. In each instance the interactions between them started out with a light touch, which was working well. And then they stopped everything and had a monologue.

The first time it happened I winced and thought, Well, they could have handled that better. And then they did it again. And again. And I wept into my popcorn.

Okay, not really. I didn’t have any popcorn. But I made a number of sarcastic remarks to my seat mates that perhaps did not aid the intended gravity of those scenes.

In the end though, you know what really bugs me about this movie? It didn’t get us anywhere. The last movie ended in a position that led us to believe our characters had grown up, moved forward, achieved something. Kirk had his captain boots on. Bones had overcome his fear of space. Spock had reconciled himself with his half-human side. They’d all made a new life for themselves. A new family.

This movie… Bones had very little screen time so it’s hard to say what his character journey might have been. Spock was incredibly emotional for a Vulcan. Kirk… had apparently retreated from responsibility and was back in the land of arrogant denial. And the fact that events worked out okay — more or less — was the result of sheer dumb luck and punching people rather than ingenious strategy or Kirk’s gift for interacting with people and using their talents in a collaborative fashion to achieve goals that would be beyond individuals.

Not only did they not get anywhere it felt a lot like they went backwards in the time between movies.

It has some lovely moments, it really does but basically the feeling I left the cinema with was: WTF?

Four images down the page of Kirk, Bones, Spock and Uhuru, all looking like they are really not having a good day. Caption reads: IS THERE ANYTHING. (referencing the line from the movie 'is there anything you wouldn't do for your family?'


Posted in: Kandace