There really isn’t anything to dislike about Star Trek. Well, maybe the music, which isn’t bad, just isn’t as good the rest of the music in the series. There’s a lot to like–Chris Pine (though the wife disagrees), J.J. Abrams’s direction is outstanding, there’s some nice little stuff (Zoe Saldana’s Uhura and her romance, Leonard Nimoy’s reaction to Pine, Karl Urban’s woefully underused McCoy). Oh, wait. What’s his name… Eric Bana? Was it Eric Bana? He was awful. Oh, and Ben Cross. He was lousy too.
The problem with the film is its uselessness. I saw it in a theater packed with college students who hooted and hollered during the Transformers sequel–Abrams isn’t exactly going for a high brow audience. The script, from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who often really stink), isn’t bad. There are some weaker moments, but the dialogue’s solid–Pine delivers it with an unbelievable swagger, playing Kirk as a superhero, something Shatner never really recognized in his essaying of the role–and there are some neat developments. But it’s really all about Abrams’s direction. Whether it’s the–as far as I know, I haven’t seen the more recent Star Trek films–outstanding CG space shots (Abrams’s composition of these scenes is utterly unlike any other Star Trek direction I’ve seen, much more visceral… in fact, it sort of resembles the new shots from Bob Wise’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture director’s cut), amazing action scenes. Abrams, on his second film, does a fantastic job.
So Pine’s excellent, something he establishes from his first scene. Saldana’s good, playing well off Pine and Zachary Quinto. Quinto’s okay… adequate. The problem is how good Nimoy is in his scenes. His link to the original incarnation, not to mention his lovely (there really isn’t any other word for it) scenes with Pine… Quinto can’t really compete. Maybe in the next one (in this one, there’s a hint at a solid chemistry between Pine and Quinto). And, really, all Star Trek is about is waiting for the next one.
Because Karl Urban? He’s really not in this one enough. He probably gives the best performance and, even without a lot of back story, has the most interesting character.
Bruce Greenwood’s kind of useless. Abrams should have tried harder to get Tom Cruise.
Simon Pegg’s hilarious as Scotty. John Cho and Anton Yelchin are kind of useless too. They’re both all right, but there’s no part for them in the film.
The script’s got a bunch of logic holes and probably many more if one were to think about them, but one isn’t supposed to think about Star Trek. One’s supposed to enjoy the action, laugh at the jokes, get the references. And it works.
For an absolutely pointless two hour franchise “relaunch,” it’s about as good as it could be and it’s pretty good.