Memo to J.J.: Put. The camera. Down.
“Not your father’s Star Trek”, indeed. In this long-awaited freewheeling hyperkinetic reboot of the series, J.J. Abrams, as director, does everything short of attach bungee cords to our POV and fling us headlong into the vacuum. That, along with enough lens flares to produce a galloping case of photo-sensitive epilepsy, had me begging for Dramamine before the opening battle sequence ended.
Maybe I’m getting cranky in my old age. (All right: crankier.) But I can’t help feeling that a story worth telling is worth telling coherently. And don’t get me wrong -- this is a story worth telling. It re-ignites the pilot light in a (sometimes overly) spectacular fashion, with humor and character favored over plot. And the casting is great. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban as (respectively) Kirk, Spock and McCoy pin down their characters like nail guns on stun, and the rest of the cast, though not given as much to do, do their best with what they have.
And the best, of course, is Leonard Nimoy as “Spock Prime”. The character fits him now so well, and he plays him so effortlessly, that it’s difficult to imagine him not wearing the ears to bed every night.
The movie’s not without problems and plotholes (for example, although we can suss out the contrivance that leads to Spock Prime and Kirk being both marooned on the ice world of Hoth -- er, Delta Vega, and even sorta kinda accept it, still, two people could wander around on an entire planet for some little time before running into each other). And the villain, a Romulan blue-collar named Nero (as in, “Hi, Chris, I’m Nero” -- one has visions of Cap’n Pike and him sitting down over a couple of still extant 23rd Century Buds to work it all out, instead of Pike winding up being tortured in a dingy basement on the enemy ship) is somewhat less than Khan-like in stature and menace. (You’d think that, being such a “dese dem ‘n’ dose” kinda guy, he’d at least get around to fixing that burst water pipe.) This is the biggest problem of the film, for my money -- even a young, still wet-behind-the-ears Kirk needs a more majestic villain. And do we really need an entire subplot referencing the Kobyashi Maru test again? (I know, I know. I wish I hadn’t mentioned it in the ST:NV episode, too.)
But never mind; Abrams keeps the pace skipping merrily along at about Warp 9, and the technobabble at a merciful minimum, so it flashes past like road signs barely glimpsed (“Transwarp beaming!” “Red matter!” “Gravitational sensors!”) And, when all is said and done, we come out at the end more than ready to see this group of cantankerous twenty-somethings take on the Klingon Empire. Just bring sunglasses next time.
Live long and prosper, gang.