So I didn’t finish this movie because I forgot to bring a sweater. Basically. The air conditioning was a little too cold and the movie a little too bad to stick it out. Basically.
Basically, we have reached the fiftieth anniversary of this great franchise that has forever altered the cultural landscape with a mighty… shrug. Star Trek: Whatever, man.
Here’s what happens: We open with Kirk doing a diplomatic thing, which is cool; that’s a very Star Trek thing to do. Then the aliens (who look fierce and intimidating) turn out to be tiny and they attack him and it’s played for laughs. Whatever. Then, back at this stupidly futuristic Starbase that looks like it houses 500 million people, we find out that Kirk has put in for a Vice Admiral job and is recommending Spock for his replacement.
A couple things: first, Vice Admiral, are you kidding me? What are you, 12? (Also, addendum to this point, but so far we the audience haven’t really seen Kirk do anything but fuck-up; it’s an open question if he’s even remotely competent as a Starship Captain, and now he’s asking for a promotion?) Second, this is the laziest fucking arc you could think of for James Kirk – the whole ‘Kirk realizes his purpose is to be Captain of the Enterprise’ thing. Wth, guys. No one in the audience thinks this movie is going to end with Kirk parking himself behind a desk, satisfied that his career path is going pretty well, considering he was himself hired in a bar with kleenex up his nose.
So this is basically a waste of time to try to inject some inner-conflict into the story, and I really have no idea why. When we open, they’re 3 years into the 5 year mission of the tv show – which incidentally ran only 3 seasons, so maybe a bit of a nod there. Movie-Kirk laments about how fucking bored they all are, which is weird because TV-Kirk had none of this angst; none of them did because they were literally having awesome space adventures every week. Whatever, man.
Then a refugee of a ship that crashed in crazy-space arrives at the starbase, asking for help, and since the Enterprise is the only ship shippy enough to survive crazy-space, they get the job. This is basically the beginning of the movie. I should mention that we also get our nods to Leonard Nimoy dying and Sulu being gay around this time, which are tastefully done. Spock and Uhura exchange a couple of lines that tell us they’ve broken up. Bones gets in a zinger.
Then the action, and this is basically where I check out, for reasons I’ll get to. But the Enterprise arrives at the planet in crazy-space and are attacked by a ship/swarm thing. It goes on forever. CG camera angles and ‘splosions as far as the eye can see. I don’t know why, but even with all the rapid-action editing at a million cuts a minute, this just seemed so much longer and draggier than the parts where they were establishing character and story – you know, all the stuff they couldn’t wait to blow past?
Somewhere in here, my friend Emily got nauseous (which is a thing that happens sometimes and why we couldn’t watch Gravity together) and left, and the battle continued on without her. We meet Krall and he’s looking for the thing from Kirk’s cold-open diplomacy – and, oh yeah, buddy, if you want to go retrieving an itty-bitty box from a starship, maybe you shouldn’t go attacking the warp nacelles and deflector dish all willy-nilly. The warp nacelles – as the name implies – are connected to the warp core, which is literally the most explosive thing in Star Trek. And as for the deflector dish, this is what happens to the USS Odyssey when it’s violently introduced to a Jem H’dar warship:
And then this:
So it was a bit of a risky move that could have jeopardized everything the villain wanted to accomplish, is all. It doesn’t, because movies, but whatever.
So the Enterprise crashes and the crew is separated. Emily has yet to come back from the bathroom and I grow increasingly worried, and also cold – man, the air-conditioning in that theater just would not shut up. So with the movie not really grabbing me, and my concern growing, I left the theater and that was it for me and this movie. I waited outside the girl’s bathroom for Emily and she was fine. Neither of us minded cutting out on the movie because, whatever.
Not knowing how it ends, it’s pretty obvious to see the broad strokes. The good guys will triumph, the bad guys will fail; that’s a given. But since it’s grittier or whatever, the villain probably dies. None of the crew die and Kirk declines the promotion, because the Kelvin timeline is insane enough to offer him one. Kirk and Spock spontaneously kiss, and then look into each others widening eyes as both come to the same conclusion…
Bam. Credits. Music. Lights. People waiting for an end credits scene that will never come. Ushers waiting for those people to leave so they can do their horrible, thankless jobs.
Happy Birthday Star Trek.