Reviewers Log, Stardate – 54868.6.
These are the continuing voyages of director JJ Abrams at the helm of the NCC 1701, the Enterprise. His four year mission to once again appear the fanboys and girls of the Roddenberry universe in the same way he deftly handled the 2009 relaunch of the Star Trek franchise. His crew, Chris Pine, Zacahary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Peg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin suit up to reprise their roles and give us the Prime directive of any actor – make us believe in them as their character.
Do they succeed? Is JJ once again able to warp us into his vision of the Star Trek universe and its alternate timeline?
Yes. Yes they do. – so in short- Just See it!
In what for me is a nearly flawless film, which is hard with just over two hours of running time, we are taken through the highs and lows of James T Kirk’s first captaincy. It’s unclear how long after the events of the first film this is, but it’s also largely irrelevant to the current plot as well.
What is the plot? In my usual non spoiler fashion we have a bit of a challenge here since the trailers did a fantastic job of hiding things for a change. Starfleet is attacked from within by a man of their own making. A nightmare for them given meat and willing to break bone to get what he wants. We then have a somewhat humbled Kirk driven to vengeance for this mans acts. In the course of the film he learns what it means to be a captain, to know fear, to know about the value of the lives of his crew, and truly what it means to be a Starfleet officer.
He isn’t the only one to learn things – Spock also learns what it means to be a (hu)man, a friend and a partner all while holding true to being the right hand that Kirk needs. The voice of wisdom that his commanding officer won’t necessarily listen to but will hear. His relationship with Kirk and the crew is pushed to the limits, just as much as his own repressed emotions are.
With a rare talent among directors JJ Abrams allows each of the crew their own heroic savior moment. While some characters don’t get as much screen time or epicness as others, and that is a shame, those that do earn their moments well. That is what this film does well by the way; it continues the character development of the first film and brings it to a head and cements it all. The command crew of the Enterprise are now and forever a family. All moments from here on are earned. Every tear, scream of rage, heart break and panic can be believed.
Even Alice Eve, as Carol Wallace-Marcus, new comer to the crew earns her stripes and becomes part of the family with one scene as a glaring flaw. Benedict Cumberbach brings all the weight and gravitas of his acting prowess as the films heavy. Even Peter Weller , welll not even , delivers in his characteristic way. Bruce Greenwood, reprises his role as Pike and shows all the charm and dignity he did in the first film. All of the acting is right where it needs to be.
So why isn’t this a perfect film? There are a few small flaws, some pacing issues and even some editing/timing issues. They are minor. My biggest complaint is a completely and totally unnecessary cheesecake shot with Carol. It was shown in at least one of the trailers and for that moment she was posed like a bloody store mannequin. My partner in crime with movies will be giving her well reasoned rant soon on this and it is well earned. Count on me to share it.
Aside from that one scene, damn near flawless.
TL;DR crowd – here’s what you are waiting on.
Just go see the thing. Everyone. Period. No exceptions. No alternatives.
This right now is THE movie to beat this summer until Pacific Rim in July. Nothing else will come close to this quality in every respect. Sure other movies will be entertaining (Fast 6, Now You See Me, etc) but few if any will deliver on so many levels so successfully.
So to you JJ Abrams, please continue to take us in this timeline where no one has gone before. I can’t wait to see what you do with the new Star Wars.