Star Trek: Just another Vulcan sequel?
So I have just returned from the cinema to see Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura and the gang return in their needlessly uncomfortable woollen outfits to boldly go and whatnot. Now, I cannot stress how much of a fan I was of the first film. Yes, it had its flaws as any remake of a cult classic will do if you look hard enough, but in essence the first film was an incredibly fun, well directed homage to the film and TV powerhouse that is Star Trek.
To be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing in this sequel; at first I thought it was that they hadn’t quite gotten the balance of non-stop action, humour and emotion quite right as they did in the first. But that’s not really it. One thing you can’t fault either film on is a lack of action, and though the against-the-glass vulcan salute was a bit much I must admit Spock and Kirk’s moment in the reaction chamber was quite touching. However, the other main emotional component, Spock and Uhura, is just creepy and wrong and I don’t want to talk about it because quite frankly it makes me sad. Despite that, I did find myself laughing out loud a lot throughout the film. I mean, disagree all you want but at first I was glad Scotty disappeared so I didn’t have to put up with Simon Pegg’s accent, but in the end he added some of the film’s funniest lines, especially in the cargo bay scene. I would like to add one minor thing missing was Chekov, who I personally love. On a side note, mad props to the crew member who managed to, while ON A SPACESHIP which EXPLORES SPACE and makes SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES, calls their heroic rescue by Kirk a ‘miracle’ in a show of religious faith rivalling that of Captain America.
My most valid theory I think is that J.J Abrhams Spiderman 3’d it, and tried to add too many villains. Once the word ‘Kronos’ was mentioned I started getting excited for a Klingon encounter until I remembered that Benedict Cumberbatch is not remotely Klingonian (yes I’m not sure if that’s a term either, let’s all move past it). To be honest, I thought the Klingon segment of the film was unfair to the Klingons, who although initially enemies of star fleet but became close allies to humans. They’re given a very short space of time in which they come across as an incredibly inferior race, actually reminding me of Orcs in their depiction, and then are quickly killed off. Yes, I accept that Khan is a huge nemesis of the USS Enterprise, but that’s like the Cybermen turning up for five minutes, being made to look stupid then being killed off by a Dalek. A bit disappointing, and I hope they revisit Kronos in future films, if even just for Worf’s dignity (although yes it’s not his series). On top of this you have the human adversary, Admiral Marcus, who although added a lot to the film also teaches us that if you want someone to do Southern and grumpy and call people “son” repeatedly, get Tommy Lee Jones or just leave it alone.
Really what I did miss the most in this film though was the sly nods and references to the original series and films which the first one was riddled with and kept you smiling throughout. Although I do admit that the first film really is an introduction to all the characters for the new generation of Trekkies it was trying to target, it had enough old-school pizzazz to keep older generations happy as well. This film seemed to feel the need to explain itself more, particularly with regards to falling in to the pit-fall of all sequels whereby they over-explain the previous film. I can fully appreciate Abrams’ efforts to reach a wider audience with Star Trek, but I did miss the almost in-jokes you shared with the crew.
Though it may sound like I’m picking holes in it, I did really enjoy the film. I think what I mean to say is that J.J Abrams nailed it so well with the first one that it would have been difficult to produce the mind-blowing sequel that everyone expected. What always makes Star Trek is of course the camaraderie and chemistry between the Enterprise crew, which this generation of Star Trek films has in bucket loads. It’s difficult, apart from Spock and Uhura’s romance, to find a relationship which doesn’t feel natural within the cast. Chris Pine has always made an excellent Kirk in my eyes, filling a role not unlike Maverick in Top Gun; the dangerous but heroic protagonist, which is always a winner in action films. On top of that you do have a great villain, portrayed very chillingly by Benedict Cumberbatch with just the right balance of pure evil and pure awesome.
So I guess overall I would say yes you should go and see this film, because it is well worth it and you’ll come out of the cinema feeling satisfied and still a little bit goosebumpy from the standard “boldly go” monologue. However, you shouldn’t expect to come out with the same sense of wonderment, excitement and that pure spine-tingling feeling that makes you want to walk out and buy a ticket to see it again that you did with the first one.