Star Trek (2009)
November 30, 2022 8:59 AM - Subscribe

The fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of bitter rivals. One, James Kirk, is a delinquent, thrill-seeking Iowa farm boy. The other, Spock, a Vulcan, was raised in a logic-based society that rejects all emotion. As fiery instinct clashes with calm reason, their unlikely but powerful partnership is the only thing capable of leading their crew through unimaginable danger, boldly going where no one has gone before. The human adventure has begun again.

Currently sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes but often derided by "fans" as not Star Trek-y enough, J.J. Abram's version of Gene Roddenberry's vision is action-packed, brilliantly lit, and just irreverent enough when it needs to be. It does suffer from Abrams's poor understanding of distances in space (as also seen in "The Force Awakens"), but not in an overly-distracting way.

I am shocked this hadn't been posted already.
posted by hanov3r (36 comments total)
I mean, it's certainly pretty. They lost me pretty early, though, by building the Enterprise on the fucking ground.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:44 AM on November 30, 2022 [8 favorites]

This was a fun movie, but it missed the depth of character that the original series had - instead, Kirk & Spock (& everyone else) are just a few character traits turned up to 11. That's what didn't work for me here, but hey - lots of other people seemed to like it!
posted by nubs at 10:00 AM on November 30, 2022

It was a space opera, but it wasn't Star Trek. Somehow they found an excuse to show every female character in their underwear, often without their consent. In 2009, they managed to make Starfleet command less diverse than the 1960's original (look at all the white men, as far as the eye can see...).

I mean, it was pretty and all but a lot of what made original Trek special was that it was progressive compared to what else was out there at the time. Abram's version was regressive for its time and it didn't have to be,
posted by Karmakaze at 10:11 AM on November 30, 2022 [8 favorites]

As a re-imagining of Star Trek, I thoughgt this first movie was pretty fun, but the subsequent two were much worse. I think I mostly object to trying to shoehorn this into the rest of Trek as a separate timeline. It doesn't have to be included in the already-too-ponderous Trek canon. It would have been great as a stand-alone movie with zero connection to the rest of the Star Trek universe. But, by insisting that the events of this film bleed into the "prime timeline", it ultimately fails.
posted by briank at 10:23 AM on November 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

As I've been sitting here thinking about it and how it was really an action/adventure film with Star Trek named characters, I think briank has it right. Make this film, but not as a separate timeline of the Trek characters we already know - give us a new ship, some new characters, and I probably would have been all over it.

But maybe the timing for that was wrong - maybe no one was ready to take the risk of trying to build off of the main tentpole of the franchise at that point, and just wanted to find a new way to use the old familiar.
posted by nubs at 10:26 AM on November 30, 2022

Is this the one where Sulu has a switchblade katana? Because that was the one that I walked out on when that thing showed up.
posted by porpoise at 10:37 AM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like the cast.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

The casting was great and Abrams has a fun visual style but the script was just a disaster.
posted by octothorpe at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was sitting in the theater when they showed a trailer for an upcoming move…cop chasing a kid in a vintage convertible, lots of cuts, pretty chaotic, some shape vaguely registering on the horizon. Car goes over the edge but the kid bails first. Robotic voice? “What is your name?” “My name is James Tiberius Kirk”. I tell ya, I practically leapt out of my seat.

Then the next one showing the bar fight and Bruce Greenwood (that voice) “Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 600 lives. Including yours. I dare you to do better.” You bet I saw it the first day it was released.

Yes, I love this movie. The cast was spot on (RIP Anton Yelchin). It’s been sad over the years hearing when the TOS actors pass away. I was ECSTATIC that Leonard Nimoy lived long enough to appear. Don’t give a shit about timelines or lens flare. The second film was disappointing and the third did not make much of an impression but man, this first one was great.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2022 [9 favorites]

Cannot help but feel like it was dumbed-down from the very beginning, from when "You're the captain now, Mr. Kirk" replaced "Mr. Kirk, you have the conn."
posted by infinitewindow at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2022

There was a mention in the Nepo Baby thread about J.J.Abrams and I forgot that he turned Kirk into a nepo baby too. The TOS Kirk was a merit hire and worked his way up while Abrams' Kirk stumbled into it because of his legacy.
posted by octothorpe at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

The casting was great and Abrams has a fun visual style but the script was just a disaster.

I've compared this and Into Darkness to Abrams' Star Wars films: great cast (complete with a legacy actor), shiny visual style, but good overall only in comparison to Abrams' next film in the series, which is just painful; there's also an installment by someone else (Beyond), that, while not without its own problems, is lots more fun and takes a few more chances. There are moments, though: probably my favorite aspect of Chris Pine's performance is after the bar fight and Pike's pep talk, when he's just playing with the little starship salt shaker and thinking about things. Nevertheless, Strange New Worlds is by far a better retro-Trek-but-shinier fix.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:20 PM on November 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

Probably one of the greatest wastes of money in cinematic history. I guess it was profitable, as were the 2 sequels, but one of them was actively offensive and the other was fun but slight, and the pocket timeline it created so as not to annoy Trekkies with a wholesale reboot completely and utterly failed.
posted by rhymedirective at 1:31 PM on November 30, 2022

the pocket timeline it created so as not to annoy Trekkies with a wholesale reboot completely and utterly failed

The Kelvin universe has been actively referenced in at least two currently-running Trek series, so maybe not "utterly" failed.
posted by hanov3r at 2:04 PM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'll stake out the extreme viewpoint here -- I hate this film and it can go die in a fire.
posted by kyrademon at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

The Kelvin universe has been actively referenced in at least two currently-running Trek series, so maybe not "utterly" failed.

Referenced? Sure. Are there any additional movies or tv shows or books that take place in the Kelvin timeline? Nope.

If anything, these movies have made a lot of money for CBS by making Trek a viable property again, which I doubt was Paramount’s goal, but they’re the same company again, so who knows.
posted by rhymedirective at 3:05 PM on November 30, 2022

They keep talking about a fourth movie but the case isn't getting any younger.
posted by octothorpe at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2022

Gosh, I hated this movie. It was like the frat-boy's version of Star Trek.
posted by jabah at 5:03 PM on November 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

The thing that drove me absolutely nuts about this movie is that Abrams has absolutely no sense of scale. Three minutes at warp from Earth to Vulcan? Planets fully visible in daylight skies from a few AU away? Beaming back into a moving starship?! Has this man ever even driven to a pharmacy?!

And the plot didn’t need any of that stuff to work!
posted by thecaddy at 6:49 PM on November 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

This movie was the exact opposite of what I expected. I was thinking it would probably be a typical cerebral Trek-y script, moral dilemmas, Prime Directive, all that - but with horrible modern cheap CGI production.

But instead I thought all the production stuff was actually pretty good! Uniforms were pretty snazzy, effects looked fine even with all the patented Abrams lens flare etc., acting was good. And the script was a pile of garbage.

It's kind of amazing that they could get the style/tone of Trek all wrong while still having so many fanservice allusions to the original. I wish they'd felt more free to change things up, actually. Is there any real need for Kirk's implausible promotion to captain straight out of the academy? Why can't Spock be the captain, or keep Pike around? The original Trek is still around for viewing, let's see something different this time...
posted by equalpants at 7:11 PM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Ever since it's pointed out to me the rebootverse was clearly done by people who recalled/watched nothing but Wrath of Khan, everything about the janky characterization and beats make sense, in a horrific sort of way. I won't deny that I enjoyed it, but really out of friendship - i avoided it for a couple of weeks but friends insisted it was good, so I went. I enjoyed the new cast, but I really did come out of the experience with a big case of, ???

And at that point I've only ever watched the movies. Thanks to this one, I tried my best to find the actual show (not as easy over here then -- it was a whole adventure involving VPN because CBS timed its YouTube Channel launch of TOS around this time). Which of course, made the ??????? worse.
posted by cendawanita at 1:58 AM on December 1, 2022

Oh, and watching TOS (yes even up to Season 3) gave this movie the dubious pleasure of becoming even worse to me in retrospect. Which means the next one is nigh unwatchable.

And yes! Nepo babies can only write what they know. But not just nepo babies, generationally the huge shift is we all as a civilization of a certain class, have no understanding of privation and rationing and logistics as an actual force of nature in your decisionmaking. Of all the things that's jumped out to me over the years, it's this. Roddenberry*says* it's a post-scarcity world but his own writers can't escape it. In this one as example (and just modern trek in general), no one could imagine a world without same-day delivery and travel. This isn't necessarily a bad mental mode, but coupled with people who's never had to struggle in any disciplined setting or actually writing well, it's a movie that really had no stakes. Which makes all the whizz-bang really grating and fake. Vulcan blew up for no goddamned reason - Spock still gets to serve on the Enterprise at the end anyway. There's no consequences to anything unless as a macguffin or fan service.
posted by cendawanita at 2:07 AM on December 1, 2022

Gioacchino's epic intro with the french horn is the most star trek that ever treked, where is my uniform?
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 4:54 AM on December 1, 2022

The concept of this movie even existing is silly, but I thought the alternate timeline (and the inclusion of Nimoy) was clever enough to make it not completely offensive. Still pretty stupid overall, though by quarantining it to the Kelvinverse, it's not actively harmful to real Trek (some of which *cough* *cough* Star Trek 5 *cough* is just as terrible).
posted by rikschell at 4:59 AM on December 1, 2022

Say what you will about the movie, but Karl Urban's DeForest Kelley impersonation is spot on.
posted by Gelatin at 5:17 AM on December 1, 2022 [9 favorites]

The biggest issue with having the OG Spock show up is that Nimoy totally stole the scene from Quinto and then you spent the whole rest of the film remembering how much better Nimoy was.
posted by octothorpe at 5:18 AM on December 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

I love this film unreservedly. I can see its faults, and I have to laugh at the hate for it. That hatred is utterly of a piece with geek hatred for every other time some beloved property or media franchise is changed in some way, however small or big: Hellboy, Conan the Barbarian, nu-Star Wars, all declared to be travesties by True Believers. I've been there, but plenty of people come to movies or shows never having encountered y/our beloved ur-texts. They come to the work when they come to it, at whatever stage of rebooting/rereleasing, and I'm glad of it. Stories should change and be retold.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:55 AM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Stories should change and be retold.

As a general principle, I'm totally in agreement with this. (And have gotten frustrated enough by the number of people who hatewatch Discovery that I won't be covering it for FanFare when the next season drops.) But there's a big difference between "I hate this on principle because it's not the Trek that I grew up watching" (which, as far as I can tell, has been the case with every new iteration of the franchise) and "This isn't a very good use of the characters and setting."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:44 AM on December 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

> "Stories should change and be retold."

Sure. But can't they be changed and retold with a script that makes an ounce of sense?
posted by kyrademon at 8:17 AM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Stories should change and be retold.

Absolutely they should - and I would love it if this film felt like a new take on the old familiar TOS characters and setting. But instead of giving us a different view of Kirk/Spock/McCoy/Sulu/Chekov/Uhura/Scotty, it's just those characters recast and played to the expected character trope. Kirk is a reckless and a womanizer! Spock represses his emotions, but apparently the only emotion he has is anger! Uhura is a linguistic genius! And so forth.

This movie is very well cast, and is a lot of fun. I don't hate it, I just think it could have done a lot more with the idea of giving us a different timeline and consequently a different view of the characters - what if nuKirk is a smart young kid who has serious concerns as to what Starfleet is/stands for? Or, you know, just take the setting and give us a new crew with new perspectives. From what I've seen so far, Strange New Worlds is doing a good job of giving the audience something new mixed with the familiar. And maybe what I'm outlining is too big for a movie to do, but I feel like it should be possible.
posted by nubs at 8:30 AM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

One of my frustrations is that TOS Kirk is a womanizer in that he has a lot of brief flings and very few long relationships, but he's not a lech or user. The women in all of those relationships were on the same page with him. But so many people just remember "active serial monogamist" and it becomes "aggressive creeper" in translation. Fiction has enough aggressive creepers already, we don't need one more.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:59 AM on December 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Say what you will about the movie, but Karl Urban's DeForest Kelley impersonation is spot on.

I know they'll almost certainly recast the role for SNW eventually (and honestly Paul Wesley's take on Kirk has grown on me as I've rewatched TOS), but I really wouldn't mind if Urban showed up as McCoy for an episode or two.
posted by thecaddy at 2:06 PM on December 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

...razza-frazzin' red effing matter...
posted by RakDaddy at 2:06 PM on December 1, 2022 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this while in the theater the first time, but by the 2nd drink afterwards I was ranting about the nonsensical plot. I have worked with and for the military for much of my professional life, and that was about as close to an actual military organization as my sleepy aging GSD is to a racing greyhound.

Yes, it's Hollywood, but Roddenberry was a veteran, and Starfleet had a chain of command in TOS that they mostly even followed. This was nonsense and buffoonery, dependent on cowboy heroism and handwavey magic technology instead of teamwork and creativity.

Plus the wanton destruction of Vulcan just to make Spock have :::feelings:::

I am over using wholesale genocide as character motivation. Nemo could have been evil without the movie needing to do that.

posted by suelac at 9:36 PM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Many of the best responses to this particular Trek film have been in the form of fanvids.

The satirical "...on the dance floor." by sloanesomething, to the tune of the song: "Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor," Flight of the Conchords.

The grieving, processing, and celebrating "Grapevine Fires" by skywaterblue (original is no longer available online; it is, however, available as remastered by starlady), using the song: "Grapevine Fires" by Death Cab for Cutie. A sort of similar sentiment in "Long Live" by cosmic_llin, using the song "Long Live" by Taylor Swift.

And: there's a classic 2003 slash vid about TOS, "Closer" by TJonesy and Killa, using the song "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. And, in response to that vid and to the reboot film series (spoilers for Star Trek (2009), Into Darkness (2013), and Beyond (2016)), rhoboat made the satirical (and not slashy) vid "This is A Trent Reznor Song" using the song "This Is a Trent Reznor Song" by Freddy Scott.
posted by brainwane at 4:02 AM on December 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Well I really liked it. I loved the beginning USS Kelvin stuff and the look of the starship and the battle, the colour palette and the detail and all of that. The reimagined Kirk was ok and emotional Spock is obviously unacceptable. Loved Nimoy turning up, getting the sort of final appearance (nearly final) that Shatner missed out on, even though finding him in a cave on an ice planet and the set up for that made no sense. I loved the "Fire everything" scene when Nero tries to kill Spock in the ship with the red matter, and then the Enterprise comes out of warp going pew-pew-pew, and loving it was only very partially because I knew the rapid fire phasers would piss off the purists. I liked the other differences too, fine with destruction of Vulcan and bumping off Spock's mum Only thing I didn't like was emo Spock. Was totally ambivalent to Uhura having a family name - Spock can come from a culture where you only have one name but Uhura can't?

I think there are plot holes but the high energy of the film tends to overcome them and I loved it at the cinema so much I watched it there again a week later.
posted by biffa at 5:00 AM on December 3, 2022

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