Twitter review: This is the Star Trek movie I’ve been waiting a long time to see. Finally some real fun and adventure!
Spoiler-free review: I liked the Star Trek reboot a lot. I thought it did a good job linking the older universe with the new one J.J. Abrams created. I even thought Star Trek Into Darkness was okay. It wasn’t as good as the reboot film, and the whole Harrison nonsense took way too much from the film. This film, though, I would rank as one of the best Star Trek films made. IMHO, I would rank this third, behind Star Trek II and Star Trek IV, and ahead of Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek VI. If the reboot changed the ordering, so that now the odd-numbered films are great compared to the even-numbered films, I’ll have to patiently wait through the next Star Trek film to get to the one afterwards (then again, maybe the next film will finally break this pattern for good – but we’ll have to wait a few years for it).
This film has the Enterprise in the middle of its 5 year mission to explore the stars. Besides getting a bit antsy on board, Kirk is also starting to question his place within Starfleet, even going so far as to apply for a promotion, which would take him out of the Captain’s chair. After a bit of shore leave at a Starbase, the crew are sent in to a nebula in search of a ship, one of whose crew came out of the nebula asking for help. Once the Enterprise gets towards the planet where the ship was supposed to have crashed, they are attacked by thousands of smaller ships, which manage to tear the Enterprise apart. The crew that is left are split up on the planet, with Scotty eventually meeting up with Jaylah, a woman who was similarly attacked and left on the planet. She managed to get away from Krall, the leader of the aliens who attacked the Enterprise. Eventually, it’s shown that Jaylah’s ‘house’ is actually an old Federation ship that disappeared over 100 years ago. Once Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chekov meet up with Scotty and Jaylah, they have to try and rescue the rest of the crew and get off the planet.
The thing that amazed me so much about this film is how much it felt like watching the cast of the original series interacting with each other. In the reboot film, we were getting introduced to each of the characters, and we also had Spock Prime as well. In the second film, it still felt like some of the interactions and emotions between the characters felt a bit forced. Here, for the first time, I truly could believe that these characters had a long history with each other and could have the banter the original cast had. They managed to capture the spirit of the original cast and make it their own – no small feat. In my mind, it also helped that they took a bit of the ideas from Star Trek II and VI – Kirk’s feeling of being out of place around his birthday, as well as the idea of the Federation being an organization of peace instead of war – without outright copying those ideas, as they did with Into Darkness.
Yes, the Enterprise gets ripped apart 20 some odd minutes into the film, but there was real humor and a sense of adventure throughout the film. I laughed at a lot of the jokes, and appreciated the extended time Spock and McCoy had with each other. This truly did feel like a proper Star Trek film, and it’s wonderful to finally feel like this cast are making these characters their own. That, plus I LOVED Jaylah. She could kick some ass, and also got some laughs by being literal with some people (calling Scotty “Montgomery Scotty” throughout the film as one example), while also being a properly developed character haunted by her father’s sacrifice for her. I really hope she’ll be part of the Enterprise crew for the next few films, because I really want to see more of her.
Spolier-filled review: The big reveal towards the end of the film (ironically enough spoiled by one of the commercials leading up to the opening of the film) that Krall was actually previously the Captain of the Federation ship that was stranded on this planet did manage to explain his motivation, but I still wondered about why he used a foreign language to talk with other people, and whether some of the crew that was left when his ship crashed on the planet were like him, mutated after using the life force of other people. I also wondered how he managed to know so much about this weapon he wanted to use. Still, in my mind I’m nitpicking a bit.
The main reason I didn’t give this film a 4 star rating is because it didn’t feel quite as satisfying as Star Trek II. Ricardo Montalban gave an iconic performance as Khan, and his fight with Kirk towards the end, quoting Moby Dick, is a true movie highlight. Again, I realize this is nitpicking. Overall, I would very much recommend this film to anyone who wants to have a good time.