Star Trek: The Motion Pictures, Part 3
“Star Trek” (2009)
I had some serious reservations when it came to new cast portraying the iconic crew of TOS, but the teaser trailers eventually had me excited. I assumed I’d take umbrage with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk 2.0, but I was actually more uncomfortable with Spock 2.0. Not that there was anything wrong with Zachary Quinto’s performance, but his romance with Zoe Saldana as Uhura baffled me. Spock had a relationship with one of his cadets at Starfleet Academy? Illogical.
As far as Kirk goes, he got pummeled in every physical altercation, which seemed out of character. I remembered William Shatner always being good in a fight even if his stunt double was noticeable in most wide shots on TOS. Eric Bana was a bit stale as Nero. Romulans just don’t have the same flair as other Star Trek antagonists. Leonard Nimoy appears as Spock for the first time since 1991, when he guest starred on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” was released.
William Shatner was not included in the film, which was probably for the best. Kirk cannot simply return from the grave for a shoehorned cameo. An entire film, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” was dedicated to resurrecting everyone’s favorite Vulcan science officer. A William Shatner cameo could only have been justified with some lazy writing.
This film was well cast, even though seeing Winona Ryder playing a mother made me feel old. It was quite clever of the filmmakers to create an alternate timeline, so this is a reboot that doesn’t discount the history of these characters and also takes them in new creative directions. In my opinion, the “Star Trek” reboots play better than the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, so the edge may now go to “Star Trek” when comparing and contrasting the two greatest sci-fi franchises. Let’s see if J.J. Abrams can tip the balance of power back in “Star Wars” favor with Episode VII.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)
Okay, some people were apparently shocked to learn that Benedict Cumberbatch was really playing Khan Noonien Singh, but I fell into the category of those who saw the big reveal coming even before the film was released. I think that Cumberbatch was quite good in the role, even though the character probably should not have been played by a Caucasian actor.
Benedict Cumberbatch was a casting choice which I had initially struggled with. In TOS episode “Space Seed,” Khan was presumed to been of Indian decent, albeit genetically enhanced, and was portrayed Ricardo Montalban, who was Mexican. The reboot crew all (in some way) resemble the original crew, but there’s very little physical resemblance between Montalban and Cumberbatch. I believe that Benicio Del Toro was originally considered to play the part. He was also the first actor attached to play Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” I’m starting to think that Del Toro will never be a villain in a big summer sci-fi flick. Ultimately, I’ve decided that Cumberbatch captured the true essence of Khan and choose to ignore the alleged “whitewashing” and just appreciate his talent as an actor. Also, Khan’s inclusion in this film confirms that he is greatest villain in the franchise. (I’d rank The Borg Queen second). But, I respect the opinion of anyone who still disagrees with the casting. No one has said that Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t a terrific antagonist in the film, only that Khan should have been played by someone bearing more of a resemblance to Ricardo Montlaban like Benicio Del Toro.
I’m still not sold on the Spock / Uhura romance, but I’ve learned to cope. At least they introduced a love interest for Kirk. Apparently, having Alice Eve in her underwear set the women’s movement back decades, but I don’t see what the big deal is… and I’ve studied that scene closely. And, more importantly, Kirk didn’t get his ass kicked a bunch of times like he did in first J.J. Abrams flick.
I think that this film was wasting its time by trying to recreate the impactful climax of “Wrath of Khan.” The roles were now reversed, but it was still Kirk and Spock saying farewell to each through a piece of glass. It’s not so easy to recreate the chemistry that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had. Also, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto haven’t been paired together long enough to warrant such drama. So, Captain Kirk has now had two death scenes and neither was worthy of the character.
The next “Star Trek” film will be released in 2016. Where does the franchise go from here without J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair? Who knows, but I know what I’d like to see…
Some serious cold war tension with The Klingons. Almost justifying Admiral Marcus’ paranoia in the previous film. Also, now would be a good time to reincorporate William Shatner, either in archival footage or a voice-over. More screen time for Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. Perhaps even a love interest? The romance between Kirk and Dr. Marcus should end in heartache. And how about another Tribble cameo? Some call that “fan service,” but why shouldn’t a film serve its core fan base?
The story should pick up three years into their five year mission because that is how long TOS was on before cancellation. I’d also like to see Simon Pegg grow a mustache, so he could resemble James Doohan more as he ages.