SPOILER ALERT. Do not read this if you haven’t seen Star Trek. I have seen it SPOILER and I’m going to SPOILER talk about what I saw SPOILER. So if you haven’t seen it yet and you don’t want to be SPOILED go away and come back when you have. And feel free to leave lots and lots of comments, because I could just talk this stuff all day.
SPOILERS FOLLOW. You have been SPOILER ALERT warned.
First and most important — I marvel at the elegant simplicity of the plot twist that allows this crew to head off into their own time line without interfering with the original one. It’s so natural! So obvious! Of course that’s what will happen! And it’s all explained in like three lines of dialogue in part of a scene, superb craftsmanship. I have serious writer envy going on here.
Pike and Kirk — I have always loved Bruce Greenwood, and he is wonderful here as Pike, probably because he is written so well. This is what a leader is, this is why they get paid the big bucks. He recognizes a lack in Star Fleet, sees that Kirk can help supply that lack, knows that begging Kirk to join won’t work and dares him to join instead. And then is smart enough to leave it at that, to let Kirk get the rest of the way on his own. It’s all about character, something too many people who make films have forgotten.
Kirk and Pike — Okay, he’ll join, but on his own terms. “Four years? I’ll do it in three.” Walks on the shuttle with what he’s got on his back. Whatever happens to him next happens somewhere else and he’s not cluttering up his future with any excess baggage. I do love a character who is willing to risk everything on one throw.
Love the scene of Kirk riding his chopper to the dockyard. Amber waves of grain against a rising sun, shifting to the dark, grimy hard-surfaced, sharp-angled shuttle. It’s like Kirk goes through his own personal industrial revolution in two minutes. And exterior to interior, a metaphor for Kirk’s spiritual journey as well.
Spock and his mom — His mother is his soft spot. She’s his trigger when the other kids are trying to insult him into responding (Mudblood, anyone?). She is the proximate cause of him turning down the Vulcan academy in favor of the Star Fleet academy. One is run by Vulcans, the other by humans. It’s also an in-your-face to his father for weaseling about his marrying Spock’s mother. Well, Dad, you said I’d have to choose my own path. See ya.
Spock and the High Council — Best. Dialogue. Ever. Smackdown: Spock. They’re bigots, racists and snobs, he calls them on it, and they can’t say he’s wrong. He rejects them and walks away. A glorious moment in Trek history.
Spock and his father — His father telling him he married Spock’s mother because he loved her gives Spock implicit permission to love Uhura. Spock’s relationship with his father in this time line is going to be very different. Of course there are only 10,000 Vulcans left in the universe, so they’d better get along.
Spock and Uhura — I love this trope. I love it that xenolinguist Uhura’s smart enough to go for Spock and not Kirk. She’s not even tempted and Kirk gets the bimbo roommate instead. YES. Says a lot about the character of both men. I do wish Uhura had been the one to make the leap about the Klingon attack being a Romulan trap, but yeah, Kirk’s way onto the ship. The first time. He needed Scotty the second time.
Sulu — “Fencing.” Yeah, and that’s some sword. Kinda redeems him for not releasing the space brake or warp damper or whatever that was. Certainly wasn’t the ‘fencing’ Kirk was thinking it was when Sulu tells him what his hand-to-hand experience is.
Scotty — He was only in like a tenth of the whole film and he had at least half of all the best lines. “Incredibly, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.”
Kirk — He was right and Spock was wrong. They had to turn and fight, and I loved what he said when he told the crew, what was it, something like “either we come back or they do.” Yeah. Motivation.
Great bits: Kirk and Spock on the transporter after Uhura says goodbye. “So, her first name’s–“ “I have nothing further to say on the matter.” Kirk getting the snot kicked out of him every five minutes. Was there an alien character or two that reminded anyone else of the Star Wars cantina? Bones first infecting and then treating Kirk — “Stop that!” “Op at!”
The shout-outs: Chekhov’s W’s. Sulu’s fencing. Spock’s eyebrow and “Fascinating.” Uhura’s skirt, I’m so glad it’s not up to the crack of her butt in this timeline. Kirk’s Kobiyashi Maru test and the apple, loved that. The red shirt/suit on the drill, you just knew what was going to happen there. The younger Spock using the nerve pinch on Kirk. The elder Spock mind melding with Kirk. Kinda indicative of where the two Spocks are in their relationship with Kirk, isn’t it?
In short? They got it right. I can’t remember the last time I came out of a theater feeling this good.
Some bonus prizes for those of you who made it down this far:
Go here to listen to the GWC podcast on Star Trek. All this is what I would have said if I’d been in the room with Chuck, Sean and Audra. If I’d managed to get a word in edgewise, which is doubtful.
For the full backstory on Nero (and his tattoos) and the elder Spock, read the four-graphic novel prequel, Star Trek Countdown. I bought them on iTunes and read them on my iPhone. Not as fast as a mind meld but the art is better.
Go here to read a great post on the film’s science (“Black holes are not to be trifled with. They really suck.”) on Discover’s Bad Astronomy blog.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.