Geek in Review: Star Trek Has Been Reborn, and it is SPECTACULAR

For this month's Geek in Review, it was only natural that I write a column about the new Star Trek movie. This was much easier said than done:

Since I saw Star Trek a little over a week ago, I’ve struggled to write an adequate review of the movie, and what it meant to me, as someone who was part of the first effort to make Star Trek relevant to the, uh, next generation of fans. I’ve started and abandoned a few thousand words, mostly because I can say everything I need to say in just six:

It was awesome. I loved it.

Seriously. Whenever I tried to write more than that, I felt like it was gilding the lilly, as they say. But I spent a lot of time thinking about the movie, talking about it with my friends, and I noticed that we kept talking about essentially the same thing. That's what I decided to write about:

Star Trek has meant too much to too many people for too long for those of us who love it to blindly accept that whoever makes it will treat it with the same love and respect that we believe it deserves. I think it was normal and natural for all of us to have reservations, especially about Star Trek.

It turns out, I think, that a lot of our fears, while well-founded, were unnecessary. JJ Abrams may not be one of us in the convention-going sense, but I think he has something in common with us, and I think it's a big reason why Star Trek made so many of us so very, very happy.

If you want to know what that is, head on over to the SG Newswire and find out. As always, the content of my column is SFW, but Suicide Girls is NSFW. You have been warned. Approach with the appropriate degree of caution, and enjoy.

PS – A comment at SG pointed me to this strip from PvP, which I think is a brilliant companion to this column.

PS2 – This press conference with JJ Abrams (mp3) is another, longer, companion to my column.

130 thoughts on “Geek in Review: Star Trek Has Been Reborn, and it is SPECTACULAR”

  1. I have to agree with Wil on this one and his previous comment on we who have been “sucked in” to liking this. When I read these arguments about how the movie disappointed them I have to wonder whether or not they have “sucked themselves in” to hating this movie. I have heard many Trekkies (or Trekkers, is there a difference?) bashing this movie months in advance. Many merely because JJ said he was just not a Star Trek fan and how could Trekkies trust a non-trek fan. The Answer is simple, you trusted trek fans with the series for the last couple of movies and they were absolute failures that were draining the life right out of the series.
    I think that Star Trek in it previous incantations had always evolved with the times they were produced in. I think Gene would have understood if not happily accepted this incantation, if only that they were breathing new life into his creation which had been horribly mishandled lately. (Honestly did any of you see Nemesis? It makes The Phantom Menace look like Citizen Kane). It has an overwhelming positive message, underneath the violence, of the same extraordinary crew you fell in love with overcoming the challenges they faced, despite the change in the time line, proving that the strength of the series is truly in its characters and not in its universe. (At this juncture, I’d like to point out that despite seeing all 11 movies and every episode of ST except the Bakula ones, I hate Star Trek and still hate the main timeline series and movies, sorry Wil)
    I loved this movie (Saying “I love” and “Star Trek” in the same sentence still feels odd to me). It was fun and did some much needed character development. Yes the bad guy was a bit weak, but the movie was about the crew of NCC-1701 and their coming together not about the crew of a Generic Romulan Space miner. While the shows and previous movies revolved around “intelligence” (or at least feigned intelligence, again sorry about this Wil) the writing was repetitive and uninspired and disguised a lack of creativity and simplistic plot lines with “yet to be invented” Technobabble to qualify for a solution to the weekly problem (Instead of making a complex story where the solution is brought about naturally and understandably over time). If you want that old style, well there is 40+ years of DVD’s to collect and I’m certain that a new series will come out which will whet your appetite.
    Cheers

  2. Please tell me Wil is going to be written into a role in a future, Abramized Star Trek. I loved the movie, and I love Wil’s blog – makes sense to me.

  3. Ok, I’ve made it all the through the comments. Let me get my obligatory intro out of the way: Life long fan, 33 years old, was very nervous about this reboot, didn’t watch TNG at first because I was too worried about it but learned my lesson and think TNG is fantastic, etc, etc.
    And in conclusion: It was awesome. I loved it.

  4. Hi all, I think it was a great movie but it was a little free with throwing canon into the bin. Still…I liked it. The only problem I had was with destroying Vulcan. I mean WTF? But then again I assume the sequel will resolve this issue with the crew going back to somehow save the logic loving Vulcans homeworld. I heard that Bill Shatner was supposed to feature in the film and the only place I feel he could have fit in was when Classic Spock was watching Kirk get promoted and he was in the background but the scene was cut. I dont know really. I’d like to know what Spock said on that balcony to that non visible person it just came out as a mumble to my ears. All in all I give it 7 out of 10 with an extra pat on the back for being bold enough to throw canon in the bin.
    Kirk ” I think in someway we’re all human…”
    Spock “I find that remark, insulting…”
    STAR TREK 6 (Best out of all of them!)

  5. Wow. I just back from seeing it again, in IMAX this time, and holy crap, what a difference! Still loved the movie, the only thing I have any real regrets about is not seeing it in IMAX thr first time.

  6. People need to stop crying about this movie, that it didn’t make a “defining political statement”, that it didn’t have this “deep plot that made you think”. We’re looking at more than one movie here, people! Hell, half of it was back story to get the crew together!
    Also, every damn good movie doesn’t have to make a political statement, you hippies.
    And for the record, I loved the movie. And I grew up watching you, Will, on TNG (because my parents had one TV and it was that or nothing), and you were the character I identified with as a kid. So seeing approval from you as well encourages me.
    (also, I’m still getting over my precious Caps getting run out of DC in Game 7.)

  7. Dear Wil,
    I have something to add that I think you’ve overlooked. Even though there are already 106 comments before mine, I’m going to say it anyway on the off-chance that you read every one of your blog comments.
    I read your SG blog and I agree with a lot of your points about how JJ Abrams approached Star Trek. However, he doesn’t deserve all the credits. Star Trek’s screenplay is one of the best I’ve seen in a really long time. His two writers are *huge* Star Trek fans, using the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki for reference during writing and filming. JJ Abrams did a really smart thing — he delegated. That’s why the movie has so much nuance: it was written really well. Then JJ Abrams took that great script and directed the hell out of it.
    I’m not a sappy guy, but I’m shocked by how grabbed I was by the opening sequence aboard the Kelvin. That’s a great director. Kirk chomping on the apple, all the little nods to Wrath of Khan and Voyage Home, all the wonderful nuances for the fans… those are great writers. You need both for a great movie.
    This turned out much longer than I expected. Thanks for reading.
    -Matt

  8. Yeah, I read everything, because I get e-mail notices whenever a new comment is posted.
    I agree with you, with one caveat: ultimately, the movie lives or dies because of the director, who has the last word, and is responsible for everything that happens on the set. That’s why I singled out JJ for the focus of my column.
    Good points about the script, though.

  9. Coffee. Sweet, sweet coffee. Okay, not sweet so much as black. Usually. Except when I don’t. But coffee, yes.
    And should I start drinking bourbon, is there something I don’t know that I shouldn’t? Is this some great conspiracy that everybody else knows about but has kept from me, the “Darv should drink bourbon but we’re not telling him” club?

  10. No. Darv, sweetie, drink whatever you like. This is a democracy as far as I’m concerned. I find it very admirable of you that you prefer coffee over liquor.

  11. By serious social issue what do you mean. As it has said been said Star Trek is very much a show that takes its story lines from the time it was shot in.
    *SPOILER*
    Say, for instance, to remain topical with the events of the past decade, JJ could have done a plot in which the crew of the enterprise fought against an intergalactic terrorist who had some sort of weapon of mass destruction, perhaps something that could destroy a planet, and be completely motivated by the belief that he was in fact committing the atrocities in order to stop crimes against his people. Its a pity JJ (or the writers) couldn’t have thought of something that topical.
    As for standing for, or saying something. I have to agree with Wil again. Friendship (a common theme in TOS I might add) is the key to the movie. The crew itself holds the message behind this movie. In addition, this is, in its core, an origins story. The focus is on the characters JJ is (re)introducing, not on the federation dogma (Which I find preachy, unrealistically idealistic, and against the core of human existence, but hey Im not a ST fan). The message is definitely there, just it appears that some people have been sucked into only seeing the flashy cinematography and CGI (which is breathtaking, lens flares are a mood point) to see the actually well thought out plot that leaves the viewer with a promise that this is a continuing mission.

  12. Hah, I will. So there. I’ll drink my coffee and like it, missy.
    Is there coffee in space? There had better be coffee in the future, or I will be severely grouchy.
    Maybe that is the ultimate goal of the great anti-darv conspiracy. I’ll get space but I’ll lose coffee.
    Does anybody drink coffee in Star Trek? I haven’t seen much to know.

  13. Surely they must have coffee by then, because by the time they get to Next
    Gen Trek, Picard gets his “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” and Troi eats chocolate to
    the point of almost having orgasms while she’s in the middle of a hot fudge
    sundae. And I’m pretty sure that Janeway on Voyager drinks coffee
    religiously.
    I’m with you, Darv, no future is worth not having coffee. Mr. Wheaton can
    keep his domain over beer. Just show me the coffee and I’ll be right there
    with ya, buddy.

  14. “Troi eats chocolate to
    the point of almost having orgasms while she’s in the middle of a hot fudge
    sundae.”
    Wow, I so need to watch more Star trek, apparently. And the only Voyager I’ve seen is as filtered through Mike Nelson.
    There should be episodes on Hulu, dangit.

  15. Remind me to never, ever directly post to Mr. Wheaton’s blog again directly from email. I had no idea that the formatting would come out looking that way!
    Darv, you mean to tell me that you haven’t caught any episodes of TNG? Even in reruns? Reruns of reruns? Reruns of reruns of reruns? Wow. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen all of them so many times that I can practically quote the dialogue verbatim.
    As far as Troi’s obsession with chocolate goes, there’s one episode in particular, and I’m pretty sure it’s The Game (Oh, which incidentally, features Mr. Wheaton in a “Special Guest Star” appearance) where Troi is practically having an orgasm while eating a hot fudge sundae in Ten Forward. Riker actually asks her “Would you like me to leave the two of you alone?” because of how into that sundae she is. I think he may have been jealous of the sundae, since she never showed that much enthusiasm towards him, at least not until Insurrection but I try to forget about that movie as often as possible.
    There used to be a YouTube channel a while back that had Voyager episodes on stream, broken down into parts, of course, but it’s highly doubtful that it’s there anymore. They don’t rerun those to death the way they do with TNG, but like I said before, I’m pretty sure that Captain Janeway is addicted to coffee.

  16. No, I’ve seen probably at one time or another most of Next Generation and Deep Space 9. They were on pretty much constantly during the day for a while. However it has been some time, etc etc. So most of it has long since faded.

  17. Hee. You are a very witty guy as far as dry humor is concerned. Which incidentally, happens to be my favorite brand of humor. WIN!

  18. Ohhh…gotcha. Just surprised that you don’t remember Troi showing so much affection towards a sundae, since it was pretty memorable, even for a girl like me.

  19. Ok, so call me the geekiest fan girl out there, but it occurred to me that no alternate time line in the Star Trek universe could be complete without our favorite time traveler WESLEY CRUSHER!!! How perfect would it be to have Wes pop in and blow their minds? So I created a Facebook page devoted to letting JJ Abrams know that Crusher fans are still out there and that we want Wesley, our boy Wil, in the next Star Trek movie. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91627807368#/group.php?gid=91627807368

  20. Excessive use of Adrian Lyne/Oliver Stone-inspired Firefly/Serenity/neo-BSG ShakyCam®!
    The DVD version will have a anti-motion sickness “Schmooove” setting, right? ;)

  21. I had serious reservations going in to the movie, but…it didn’t suck. All told, there were some parts that were good (I like the way we were introduced to Bones, even if they fraked up his name – not from “sawbones”, but from his divorce), some that were horrible (the Bones name, the complete lack of Vulcan stoicism – they seem to be humans with pointy ears now, since they seem to show emotion at the drop of a hat, the stupidity of how they got Kirk on the Enterprise – Bones is registered in the Academy as his physician? Really?), and some that were pretty good (such as the fight scene with the Romulans with Sulu).
    If I’d been exposed to the reboot through some other media (such as the Ultimate line of comics for the X-men and other marvel heroes) I might have felt better about it, but this was a bit jarring, and way, way too much an action flick. For me, this wasn’t too bad, but a bit disappointing. Do I want to see more? A bit – there is some potential to be something better than “terminator in space” (an action flick with little story in it), but this is just “Star Trek Alternate Universe”, another series in the franchise, not “Star Trek”.
    I know that as actors age and die, you have to replace them, but why they felt the need to rewrite the series instead of make a new one with other characters….you got me. As for the new “Spock” – he had none of the gravitas that Nimoy had. His Spock grew and showed more of his human side through time – here, they wanted to compress all that character development into one film, with Spock being a human pretending to be stoic and logical. I did not get any feeling that Spock was doing more than pretending to be “logical”, and I kept seeing what seemed to be some kind of smirk on his face – if he was trying to be poker faced, he failed miserably.
    Overall, a B movie for me. I enjoyed it but thought it really lacked depth. Maybe they can do more in a movie sequel.

  22. I made sure not to read anything about the film (all I could recall was Quinto=Spock) so that my experience viewing it the first time wouldn’t be colored. Yet it was plain to me that this was not, in the slightest, destroying “canon”: Consider the camera focuses right on Uhura as she boldly states, “An alternate timeline.” Doesn’t get more obvious than that.
    Another thing that bothers me is the whining that the movie lacked a good morality tale:
    * I thought the film said spoke about racism, particularly with what Spock endures from Vulcans (bullies from childhood and the Science Academy) because of his half-human lineage. We’ve got a black president who had a white mother. Pretty topical.
    * Not every Star Trek episode proffered “deep thoughts”–and when they did, often they were ham-handed or as cheesily-executed as Jack Handy’s words of wisdom. The first time Trek truly struck me on an emotional level was the Deep Space Nine episode about Benny Russell, the African-American sci-fi writer in the 1950s whom Sisko dreams is himself. At the end, Sisko states that maybe his universe is the fantasy and Russell’s downtrodden existence is the reality. Still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
    * I had a friend who was a much bigger Trekkie than I could ever be. Yet she didn’t like that DS9 episode at all, because it was too mind-blowing. She preferred shoot-em-ups! As did other Trek fanatics I’ve encountered over the decades.

  23. I was Very Disapointed with the movie the whole time line was miss-placed and to say that the movie was that of an Kerk and grew before was wrong. Don’t be fooled and suckered into hollywoods special effects. Sad But True!

  24. Or Hiro, Ando and the Nissan Versa of the first season… they never called it “the car” like real people do… it was always “The Versa”. They got me, though… I seriously want to trade my Sentra for a Versa… because it’s what Hiro drove… and it’s cute… and I’m a sucker for “the cute”.

  25. I started watching Star Trek as a kid with my Dad. I am a huge SciFi fan. I have always loved the genre. Guess I would say I was born a Trekker. I had reservations about this movie. I am so glad I went and saw it. I loved it, it was AWESOME! I usually do not watch movies more than once unless they come on TV, but I have been to the theater twice to see this movie. I can’t wait for the next Star Trek installment.

  26. Okay, I’ve read through all the comments, so after that epic feat I want to chime in. I saw the movie on May 8th, the following weekend, again this weekend, and what’s struck me is how into it the audience still was. It’s been out for three weeks, and people from all age groups, teens through grayheads, are still laughing, gasping, and even giving it a smattering of clapping at the end. And they’re sitting and watching the credits role.
    Now, I know there are a lot of die-hard Trekkies/Trekkers (what was the difference again?) out there, but meaning no offense, I don’t think it’s the convention-goers, canon-debaters, and technology-sticklers who make up the majority of the audiences. I think people in general just really love Star Trek. They love the characters, the familarity of the basic premise (people in space in a ship made from the shapes of two paper towel tubes and a paper plate), the gnerally optimistic perspective. But mostly I think it’s the characters. If I’ve learned anything from the release of New Star Trek, it’s that people really like Kirk and Spock and McCoy and the rest of the crew. They missed these people, and they’re happy to see them back again. (Oh, and they love Leonard Nimoy.)
    As for the big changes, I came away from the movie thinking “That was fun, fun, fun!” I wasn’t thrilled about the destruction of Vulcan and the introduction of the new timeline, but it was too much fun, and in retrospect: There will always be things to debate in Star Trek, and that’s fine. In my opinion, in this case, if you have new actors in a prequel, gosh, you have to have some reason to give for not making them walk in lockstep towards the status-quo of the first TOS season. Where’s the suspense? We’d know they weren’t in any real danger. Pine et al do a great job channeling without apeing their characters’ original actors, but they’re different people bringing different, though not totally alien, sensibilities to their roles. To pretend they’re not is to ignore reality and make the whole “reboot” attempt silly. Who wants to see a 120 minute William Shatner impersonation?
    Finally, I don’t think enough has been said about the HUMOR in this movie! The ST movies I remember most fondly are the ones that had serious and dramatic parts but that also just plain made me laugh with the characters, so I am thrilled that the writers tapped that tradition. That’s a huge part of what makes Star Trek Star Trek to me.
    Yeah, this is ridiculously long, but what the heck. The movie was awesome. I loved it.

  27. Last night I was watching an interview with Gene, and he said in the 24th century, he thinks people would evolve beyond the “shoot ‘em up” mentality. This is why my boyfriend and I were surprised when Kirk blasted the hell out of Nero’s ship. That isn’t something the original Kirk, or Picard, would have ever done. They had too much respect for life.
    I really loved the movie, but found myself feeling nostalgic, like a piece of the old star trek has died. I didn’t really find a “message” in the movie, like I’ve found in so many TNG episodes. I like it when ST makes me think.
    But above all, the casting was great, the special FX were amazing, and the plot was fun. I just felt a little sad because all the actors I know and love might not ever been in ST uniforms again.

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