This is the spoiler-filled companion piece to my “General” Review. This is more from a Trekkie point of view, but should be understandable to those who have seen the movie already.
As a Star Trek film, I think its definitely one of the best, if not the best. Unlike Wrath of Khan (generally regarded to be the best), it doesn’t require any assumptions about the characters or any of the Original Series episodes, since this movie literally starts at their births. I also think it changes enough about the characters to bring some depth to characters who originally had none (Chekov as a barely-understood boy-genius is much better than the “look, a Russian guy with a Monkees haircut” lack-of-introduction in TOS) and keep things interesting.
Things I loved:
- The casting: Every main character was perfect. Each actor brought their own interpretation to the role and even though they looked and sometimes acted different than the Original character, you could tell that they were the same ones. Yelchin brought a thicker, more real Russian accent to Chekov while keeping it over-the-top (a bit too far maybe?), and Pegg actually made Scotty sound Scottish (since his in-laws are Scottish and he’s British, he knows the accent). Pine brought an arrogance to Kirk that was reminiscent of Shatner’s most shining moments. Quinto played Spock so cold that even the slightest hint of emotion on his face was like an explosion. Saldana made Uhura more real than just the girl who answers the phone. Urban seems to be the only one who tries to actually sound and act exactly like the real McCoy (HA!), but he does it perfectly.
- The nods to the Original universe: Besides Urban’s McCoy, there were many things kept from the Original that I appreciated being there. The primary color uniforms, along with the sound of the intercom button being pushed and the communicator being opened were the most obvious. So was Chekov’s inability to pronounce the letter “V”. Putting Pike in a wheelchair and having him wear a modified admiral’s uniform from The Motion Picture at the end were a bit more subtle. Seeing Kirk cheat on the Kobayashi Maru test while chewing on an apple (just as he was doing when he told his son about it in Wrath of Kahn) was just plain awesome (having Spock be the designer of the test was just icing on the cake). Also, everyone got to say their classic lines and none of it felt forced or made me cringe (see Fantastic Four, which does make me cringe)
- What happened to Vulcan: Nothing says “everything is different now” more than blowing up one of central planets in the Federation and making Vulcans an endangered species. It changes Spock and even the face of the Federation. Killing Spock’s mom fits into that too. I didn’t expect that at all. And people watching the movie wouldn’t either. “Of course Kirk and Sulu will stop the drill in time to save Spock’s home— oh, wow, I guess not. Spock will save his mom— oh, I guess not.”
- The characters’ reactions to time travel, alternate realities, and older versions of themselves: All these huge concepts are being thrown around and their reactions range from “Bullsh**” to not even reacting when they see themselves 120 years older (they are Vulcan, of course). Scotty was also very accepting of Spock Prime also.
- The special effects: From the epic space shots to the extreme close ups of the hulls to the viewscreen that is actually a window, Star Trek has never felt more real. The ships fly with weight behind them and “up” is relative, which is rare for any movie.
- Simon Pegg: His portrayal of Scotty is an instant classic.
Things I’m not so sure about:
- Spock/Uhura: It gives Spock an emotional bond that he never had before and gives Uhura more depth, but it just seems weird. It’s hard to get used to Spock kissing anyone.
- Engineering: I’m torn on the industrial complex as the secondary hull. I mean, it makes sense to have the contrast between the shiny main areas of the ship and the grungy below decks, it just seemed off or too contemporary. Again, its probably just that I’m used to the shiny engine room with the one warp core at the center.
- Trans-warp Beaming (a real nit pick): I liked Scotty’s explanation that he couldn’t make it work because it was like “shooting at a bullet with a smaller bullet while blindfolded and riding a horse”, but the logic behind Spock Prime telling him that Scotty Prime figured it out didn’t make sense. First off, the transporter technology in this new reality seems far different from the one in the Prime universe, what with its swirly lights and taking forever. Second, when did Scotty Prime figure this out? And why did they never use it? I’ve not seen the official explanation, but I assume that since Scotty is still alive in the Prime universe (he was in an awesome episode of TNG called “Relics” where he helped the Enterprise-D and then took a shuttle and was not heard from since) that maybe he just came up with it after Nemesis but before the events that send Spock Prime to the alternate reality. But I had to make that up to make it fit, and that’s not right.
Things I really didn’t like:
- Nothing: Honestly, there was nothing I didn’t like about this movie.
I may add to this the more I think about the movie, but that’s pretty much it.