The movie starts with Kirk and Bones on the run being chased by an indigenous tribe on an alien planet that the crew of the Enterprise is trying to save. For some reason, Kirk has stolen an object the tribe was “bowing to” (he not only doesn’t know what the object is, but he also wasn’t supposed to interfere with them in the first place) and is running desperately as the object is obviously of great value. He somehow knows how to open the item and place it just so when he needs to ditch it. Soooooo, the movie basically opens with Kirk being an asshole for no apparent reason and huge holes in terms of concept and purpose. Yep, it’s a JJ Abrams film alright…
And now we’re into a storyline we’ve seen before as the film is basically Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn. Watching an Abrams Star Trek film is like seeing a bad Led Zeppelin cover band, yeah, it’s the same songs but they’re not nearly as good as the originals.
So the thing that plagues this film is the writing. I’m not one to offer criticism without backing up why I offer criticism so here are just some examples of why I think the writing in this film is pretty bad:
Uhura was always a strong character until now. In this film she’s written like a whiny teenage girl that has to confront her boyfriend (Spock) while they’re flying in Klingon space looking for Kahn. Really? She would bring up relationship issues at that point? Really?
Why would Spock leave a “weapons expert” on board the ship when she wasn’t authorized to be on ship in the first place? He makes such a point about following rules yet he ignores one that could put the ship at risk right at the point where the ship is sabotaged. Wouldn’t she be a prime suspect? This would’ve made for a more interesting storyline with her character rather than just showing her in her underwear and a short skirt whenever possible.
Spock decides to converse with the older Leonard Nimoy version of himself again. Is this going continue to be a thing? Will Spock continue to be a consultant to himself? It seems like everyone is running out of ideas here…
And the way things end with Kahn – conveniently refrozen. Is this so they can pop him back out when they run out of ideas again? Maybe that’ll be the third film since they already ran out of ideas with regard to this film.
I could keep going on about how bad this script is but suffice it to say that the writing in this film is so lazy that the rehashes have rehashes. It seems like the writers are working without a character compass at times just throwing things needed to get from point A to point B. The lack of originality is overwhelming…
The acting is mostly pretty good. Chris Pine is showing more layers as Kirk. I continue to like Zachary Quinto in the role of Spock who has moments here and there where he gets to show some range and passion. Zoe Saldana is a better actor than what she exhibits here in her one note constantly worried character, but again, that’s due to writing and direction. Benedict Cumberbatch is also very one dimensional while playing Kahn. He seems mostly robotic with the exception of one moment of emotion he gets to briefly exude besides anger/intensity. Not very interesting to watch and his stoic nature gets rather boring. Simon Pegg and Karl Urban are tight in their parts as Scotty and Bones.
This film is why I fear greatly for the next Star Wars film. I can’t wait for the era of JJ Abrams being at the helm of both Star Trek and Star Wars to be over and we can truly get out of the darkness of sub-par filmmaking with these two legendary universes.
reviewed by Sean McKnight