My thanks and big hugs to T’Marii, who arranged for a group of us to attend the Hollywood premiere of “Star Trek” on Thursday, April 30, 2009 – what a fun, fun experience! Here's a picture of the Chinese Theatre set up for the premiere. About 300 Star Trek fans, including us, were sitting in the bleachers to the far right of the below picture.
My thanks also to MR for helping me remember lots of plot details; we both worked on this post.
I love spoilers. I don’t like surprises.
I’ve promised several people who knew I was seeing the Trek movie early that I would post plenty of spoilers to my LJ.
So here goes.
DO NOT READ BELOW THE CUT IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE NEW MOVIE “UNSPOILED”.
I mean it. I’m going to write down every single thing I can remember, along my thoughts and commentary. The mileage is definitely going to vary on this movie, so get ready for the rollercoaster.
Still here? You must love spoilers too. :-)
But just in case, this is your last warning. I’ll first talk about the event, and then it’s on to the movie.
The premiere was truly in the heart of Hollywood at the Mann’s (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, home of the iconic star footprints/handprints-in-cement courtyard). The entire street (except for a lane to the side for guest-carrying limousines and fancy SUVs to pull up) was covered with a solid black carpeting marked with the white “Star Trek” print. A raised platform was crammed with photographers and similar media people, facing a black wall with the logo printed across it. Here the VIPs stopped along the line to be photographed, admired, etc. We were settled in the front row of bleachers (about 10 rows deep with maybe 25-30 fans per row), across from the platform. The theater entrance was to our far right and the open street lane to our far left.
All the new cast, J. J. Abrams, the writers and other production people, plus Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and his husband, and Walter Koenig were there, as well as assorted actors from “Heroes”, “Lost” and various other Hollywood celebrities. (I figured out why Tori Spelling was there – Quinto was a guest in an episode of her reality show “So NoTORIous”. I’m not sure why Matthew McConaughey or Neil Patrick Harris or Heidi Klum (who did the Vulcan salute to a group of photographers) were there; do they have Trek connections I’m not remembering?)
OK, on to the movie. MR and I have done our best to remember everything and I’m going to try to make this as detailed and complete as possible. I don’t guarantee my memory for specific lines of dialogue is complete. But I believe I’m capturing the gist of what happened and what was said.
For those who want to cut to the chase, I’ve listed all the major spoilers in short paragraphs at the end of this post.
Let me start by saying the cast is excellent. Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban, in particular, absolutely nail their roles. I can easily see both of them “growing into” Nimoy’s Spock and Kelley’s McCoy.
And, BTW, Quinto *can* do the Spock raised eyebrow. (And maybe it was just a trick of the light, but I swear he had a bit of blue eyeshadow on in one early scene.)
Chris Pine does a great job as “bad boy” Kirk. I know this characterization of Kirk is going to be one of the major flashpoints for discussion about this movie, but Pine *is* good in the role, and the characterization works in the context of what they’ve set up in this “universe”. Re “bad boy Kirk”, there has been some fannish speculation over the years that “our” Kirk, the TOS Kirk, had somewhat of a juvenile delinquent background (his facility at picking pockets in “Patterns of Force”, for example), and one of these days I hope to expand on this concept and do a post about it. But that’s for another day.
I’ll talk about Zoe Saldana in a bit – she’s also excellent. Sulu doesn’t get much screentime, unfortunately. The new Chekov is just as annoying as the original Chekov. Simon Pegg was a surprise as Scotty. I had doubts about him, but he’s as “excitable” as Doohan in the role; every bit as passionate about engines and technology, and when he gets into the red shirt he looks like he belongs in the engine room.
Everyone gets to say at least one of their classic Trek “tag lines”. McCoy says, “I’m a doctor not a whatever” at one point. Kirk asks Sulu what martial arts he knows; Sulu replies “Fencing”. (Of course Sulu winds up in a sword fight with a Romulan.) These “tag lines” come as an organic part of the plot; they never feel shoehorned in. Also, McCoy gets to use his “salt shaker” medical scanner, complete with the original whirring noise.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the age differences between the characters in TOS and how they all manage to encounter each other in this movie. It all works out just fine. McCoy is presented as older than everyone else, a man who already has had a career of his own, a refugee from a bad divorce who is joining Starfleet to get away from his past (and an ex who basically took everything he had to his name). Spock is introduced as an instructor at the Academy (Uhura is one of his star pupils). When Kirk and Uhura and Sulu graduate, Chekov is a 17-year-old cadet (he’s directly asked his age near the movie’s end and 17 is stated). We meet Scotty in an entirely different setting; he’s obviously been a member of Starfleet for some time.
This is an AU. This movie diverges from TOS canon and any future movies will continue to diverge from TOS canon. Time has been changed, and in the context of their plotline is not fixable. They state this specifically. (To follow this to its logical conclusion, this movie sets its course away from TNG, DS9 and Voyager, as well. In fact, all that’s left of Trek canon at this point is (sigh) Enterprise. Admiral Jonathan Archer (and his beagle) are mentioned at one point.)
Aside from one point – which I’ll get to later – this is a good AU. Good AUs take familiar characters and put them in different settings and circumstances, but the essential quality of the characters shines through. (Bad AUs are ones in which the reader says, “Who ARE these people anyway?!?”).
These characters *are* Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov. Very much so. The universe is very much TOS Trek. In everything that counts psychologically, these are the characters I know and love.
I knew they intended to reboot canon with this movie, and I thought I was fine with that. TOS premiered 43 years ago. It’s time for these characters to be given new life for a new generation (and it’s my hope that the new generation will go back to TOS and hopefully enjoy all the original has to offer). I was fine with everything they did in this movie – with one exception – which as I said I’ll get to later.
I have been eating up spoilers on this movie ever since it was announced. I knew it involved time travel. I figured I knew what to expect. Silly me.
The one thing I never guessed – and I never saw anyone speculate on this – was that the time incursion was accidental. Picture Dr. McCoy in “City on the Edge of Forever” – now assume Kirk and Spock arrive in the 1950s, not the 1930s, way too late to change what he’s done, and now none of them have a way home.
Now imagine someone accidentally sent back into the past who has a grudge against Spock.
I’m not going to tell the plot in strictly linear order. The heart of the movie – which we find out mid-movie in a mindmeld between Nimoy’s Spock (named in the credits as Spock Prime) – is this. Romulus is about to be destroyed by a supernova. Spock Prime has a potential way to save Romulus. Due to a lot of technobabble, he fails. Nero (guess they wanted to continue the theme of giving Romulans Roman names) is, if I'm remembering correctly – I’m guessing – an ore freighter captain who just happens to be close enough to what happened to blame Spock Prime for the loss of his world, his pregnant wife, everything.
Due to more technobabble, a black hole/time warp is accidentally created and both Nero’s and Spock Prime’s ships are sucked in, Spock Prime’s ship just a few seconds after Nero’s.
As Spock Prime explains in the mindmeld, his was “a few seconds in a black hole, 25 years in ‘real time’”. Nero’s ship shows up some time before James Kirk is due to be born, but Spock Prime doesn’t show up until Kirk is graduating from the Academy.
The movie starts when Nero’s ship encounters the Kelvin, a Federation ship.
Nero doesn’t realize quite what happened at first. He’s still looking for Spock. He takes the Kelvin’s captain for questioning, leaving First Officer George Kirk in command. Due to more plot, the only way they can escape is having everyone evacuate the Kelvin, while George Kirk remains on board. Kirk’s wife is very pregnant and gives birth to James Tiberius Kirk in the shuttle as they flee.
George Kirk and his wife have one final “I love you” conversation as he takes the Kelvin on a suicide run into Nero’s ship, thus buying enough time for everyone else to escape. During their last exchange, she says it’s a boy and asks what the name should be. They both seem to be trying to act normal, as fresh new parents would, yet both knowing without words what inevitably will happen in the next moments. She suggests George’s father “Tiberius.” He responds along the lines of “I wouldn’t do that to a child.” They move it to a middle name and want something plain for the first. He offers her father’s name; she smiles weakly and lovingly at her son and says “Jim.”
Thus history is changed in the first few moments of the movie, and nothing will be the same for our characters after that. There’s a lovely touching scene mid-movie when Spock Prime explains to Kirk that in the previous timeline Kirk’s father lived long enough to see Jim begin his Starfleet career and become captain of the Enterprise. It’s a wistful moment, as the movie Kirk realizes both what he has lost and what he can potentially achieve.
We next see young Kirk (maybe 10-12 years old, with pale blond hair flying in the wind) taking his (uncle’s?) prize antique car for a joyride. It’s truly v-e-r-y antique: a classic Corvette convertible). If you’ve seen the trailer, we all know what happens to that car. (BTW, why is there a huge Grand Canyon-sized chasm in Iowa? Is this the result of a war, or did Starfleet dig it for some training exercise? Or is there some 24th century rare mining-worthy treasure deep under the ground there? The landscape actually is quite barren and dusty, allowing the careening, racing car to kick up quite a dust rooster tail.)
Switch to a school scene on Vulcan. I don’t know if the school scene is intended to represent final exams, or just the way all Vulcan children are educated. Remember the re-education of Spock from “The Voyage Home” where he’s being quizzed by a computer? We see a huge expanse of an enormous room filled with dozens of lighted high-tech “pits”. Inside each isolated circular sunken room we see one Vulcan child being quizzed by a computer, coolly rattling off strings of scientific formulas and definitions without a blink.
When the lesson is done, the children come out, and a group of them immediately converge on young Spock to harass him. He’s calm at first, and says something like, “This is the 35th time you have attempted to elicit emotion from me by stating insults.” They start right in with the insults anyway, and call Sarek a traitor for marrying a “Terran whore”. Young Spock just can’t stand it and goes on the attack.
(One thing this movie loves to do is have parallel scenes – set something up once, repeat the same theme later in the film. We’ll see a variation of this scene again with Spock and Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise)
Next is a scene with young Spock and Sarek. Sarek gives him a lecture about the necessity of emotional control, and states that Vulcan emotions are very powerful, even more powerful than human emotions. Because of this, logic and emotional control are absolute necessities. Spock asks why Sarek married Amanda; Sarek states that it was “logical” to do so and says something along the lines that it was appropriate for his career as Terran ambassador.
Ben Cross is excellent as Sarek, BTW, all restrained emotion, the perfect calm Vulcan exterior; the intense emotion beneath.
Back to Iowa. Kirk the “townie” goes to a crowded, noisy Starfleet bar, and makes a pass at Uhura, who turns him down flat (and refuses to tell him her first name). Several Starfleet cadets show up and they trade insults (Kirk calls one of them “Cupcake”). Kirk then gets into a fight with some Starfleet cadets, who do a good job wiping the floor with him since there’s only one of him and a room full of them. (Kirk gets beat up a lot in this movie – here in the bar, later on by Spock, and still later by assorted Romulans.) (Cute touch, the bar has salt and pepper shakers in the shape of silver starships.)
We now have the scene from one of the trailers, where Cpt. Pike talks to a banged-up Kirk about Kirk’s Bad Boy rep, gives him a pep talk about his heroic father, and encourages him to join Starfleet. He advises him to be at the Starfleet shipyard at 0800 hours the next day and join the new recruits. Kirk basically scoffs, but you can see something behind his eyes....
Next comes a scene with Kirk on his motorcycle contemplating the shipyard, then it shows him driving his motorcycle to their Iowa staging point. He agrees to join, brags that if it takes most people 4 years to graduate, he’ll do it in 3, and gets on board the shuttle.
The last person to board the shuttle is Leonard McCoy, who shows up grousing and griping about the hazards of space travel and space diseases, etc. Kirk points out that “Starfleet does its business in space”. McCoy tells him he’s joining Starfleet and going offplanet to get away from a bad divorce, that his ex “took everything but my bones”.
Now we see Spock at the Vulcan Council chambers (Sarek is also there). The guy in charge tells Spock he’s so exceptional that he’s already been accepted into the Vulcan Science Academy. He states there was no reason for Spock to also apply to Starfleet because, despite his “disadvantage”, his work was sufficiently brilliant to guarantee admittance to the VSA. Spock puts them on the spot by directly asking what they mean about “disadvantage”. The answer: “Your human ancestry”. Spock promptly turns down admission to the VSA and tells them he’s been accepted by Starfleet.
Somewhere in here we see a scene with Spock and Amanda where he basically asks what would she think if he chose to attempt Kolinahr. She replies she would be proud of him no matter what he chooses to do in his life. “You always would have a proud mother.”
This is Amanda’s only major scene – obviously the scene from the trailer with Sarek, Amanda and baby Spock hit the cutting room floor. I’m sure we’ll see it on the DVD release. We do see Amanda at least two more times, but she doesn’t have dialogue in these scenes.
Fast forward three years. We see that Kirk and McCoy have become good friends. Kirk is about to take the Kobyashi Maru – for the third time. McCoy is trying to talk him out of it because no one takes it twice, let alone thrice. But Kirk is adamantly positive he’ll win this time.
Kirk does find time for a coitus interuptus scene with a redheaded, greenskinned woman who, despite being alien, acts like a Valley Girl. She happens to be Uhura’s roommate. She has also made a promise to Uhura not to bring men home, so when Uhura shows up unexpectedly she hides Kirk under the bed. Uhura is wise to this and sends Kirk packing. Kirk once again unsuccessfully attempts to learn her first name; this is an ongoing aside through the whole movie.
Kirk takes the Kobyashi Maru, but is nonchalant to the point of insolence as the program runs through its paces. All the participants, including Uhura and McCoy, want to know why he’s acting this way – and then suddenly the program switches to Kirk’s hacked-in scenario; they destroy the enemy ships and rescue the Kobyashi Maru crew.
Next we see Kirk, now on suspension, being brought up on cheating charges before a Starfleet board. He demands to know his accuser – it’s Spock, the designer of the Kobyashi Maru test. Spock describes how Kirk hacked the test.
But before the board can pass judgment an emergency call comes in – from Vulcan. There’s strange seismic activity and they need help immediately. For some reason Starfleet’s main ships are too far away to help, so they send seven ships full of cadets to the rescue.
I’ll pause for a second to say I really like Zoe Saldana’s Uhura. She’s strong, dynamic, and a genius-level linguist, and her abilities as a linguist contribute actively to the plot – for example, at one point she states she knows “three dialects” of Romulan. While the cadets begin manning the ships, we learn that she has been one of Spock’s star pupils (can’t remember in what subject, but it had multiple Spockian syllables). She’s upset to learn she hasn’t been assigned to the Enterprise, Spock’s ship. He tells her he assigned her to the Farragut to avoid the appearance of favoritism. She points out this isn’t fair to her or her abilities; he reconsiders and assigns her to the Enterprise. Somewhere around this point they also mention the translation she’s doing of some strange transmission activity in some sector of space.
Kirk is still on suspension and is barred from joining the ships. McCoy, en route to his own assignment on the Enterprise, pulls one of his medical tricks, injects Kirk with something that simulates some disease, and insists he must come on board. (McCoy’s “logic” escaped me; maybe it’ll make more sense on a second viewing. Kirk’s not the only one who cheats...!) There are several humorous dialogue lines and images through this sequence of Kirk’s rapidly-changing temporary symptoms, such as “numb tongue” and “blindness in his left eye,“etc. There’s a bit of juvenile humor about the weird side effects Kirk gets from McCoy’s medication – no, NOT Viagra jokes, though that would have been easy enough to do. His *hands* swell up. Ahem. And there’s a few too many instances of McCoy hypoing Kirk and Kirk loudly protesting.
We have a lovely lovely first view of the brand new Enterprise, ready for its first mission. Seeing her even temporarily supercedes Kirk’s misery about his addled body. Pike’s in command of the cadet-crewed Enterprise. Spock is his first officer.
My memory is a bit fuzzy about how Kirk gets up to the bridge, but on the way to Vulcan something about the transmission Uhura translated and the description of the phenomenon – a “lightning storm in space” – makes Kirk realize they’re about to encounter the same ship that destroyed the Kelvin and his father.
He demands that Pike “stop the ship”. Pike of course refuses. But they’re delayed enough that when they arrive at Vulcan, they find the first six ships have been destroyed and they drop out of warp amid a bunch of swirling ship debris segments. What’s more, Nero’s huge ship is there, and it’s lowered an enormous drill down to Vulcan that is drilling its way to the planetary core.
Now it’s basically a repeat of the opening sequence in that Pike, like the Kelvin’s captain, goes to parlay with Nero, is captured and tortured with a Ceti Eel – oops, sorry, one of its ugly relatives that enters the body through the mouth, not the ear, and latches onto the brainstem and forces its hapless victim to tell the truth, which is in this case Earth’s planetary security codes.
Before he leaves theEnterprise, Pike looks around the bridge for anyone with “hand-to-hand” combat fighting expertise. Kirk (who got back into his good graces when he turned out to be right) and Sulu volunteer. Pike sends them down to the enemy drilling platform to disable it (they get down there with powered parachutes). They are able to stop the drill by a lot of fighting with two Romulan tough guys right at the edge of the fire-spewing platform which is, of course, thousands of feet above the planet surface.
But the drill has reached the planet core, and now Nero shoots his “ultimate weapon” (something called red matter) into the planetary core.
Remember when I said “aside from one point – which as I said I’ll get to later – this is a good AU?”
Well, we’ve gotten to that point. What follows disturbed and depressed me so much it was difficult to concentrate on the rest of the movie. And the rest of the movie is good, and most of the best scenes, including Quinto’s best scenes, lie ahead. I need another viewing to appreciate them.
I’d seen this particular scene in the previews, and I figured out the implications. But I thought: “No, they’re not really going to do THAT, are they? La la la la la! This is just for drama in the trailer. They’re not really going to DO that.”
Oh – my – God – they really did THAT.
Nero destroys Vulcan and almost all of the billions of Vulcan on it.
And, Amanda dies, right in front of Spock.
Deep breath. It’s amazing to me how the destruction of a fictional place affected me so much. I was as shocked and devastated as if it were a real place filled with real people.
In the final minutes before this annihilation, we see Spock on the Enterprise. He knows Vulcan will be utterly destroyed within a short period of time. He beams down to where some kind of council of elders is meeting in a cavernous underground hall which serves as the repository of all Vulcan culture. Sarek and Amanda are there. He gets them all outside, calls for beamup, but as the beam takes them, the cliffside crumbles beneath Amanda’s feet and she falls. When they materialize on the Enterprise, she’s not there.
OK, from now on I kept on flashing to this scene and kept missing chunks of the dialogue and plot. I want to thank MR for all her help on remembering the rest of the movie.
Here’s one of Quinto’s finest moments. He enters the lift to leave the bridge and Uhura slips inside with him. She hugs him and asks if there’s anything she can do, anything he might “need”. Spock is trying to conceal everything, but is clearly in shock. He allows her embrace, then awkwardly tries to return it but doesn’t know what to do with his hands, doesn’t know how to touch. Then, for just a moment, he buries his head in her shoulder, then rears back. The look on his face is that of a man who knows if he lets go for one instant, he’ll shatter apart. His verbal response comes out slowly, with short pauses between some words was: “I need each member of the crew to act admirably.”
Kirk shows up, full of ideas on what they should do next. Spock disagrees with everything and at this moment he’s had more than enough of Kirk. He has security haul him off. (One of the security guards had been involved with the barfight back in Iowa. The guard is only too pleased to call Kirk “Cupcake” in return for Kirk’s original insults.)
Kirk is placed in an escape pod and sent to the nearby planet Delta Vega (possibly the same Delta Vega from “Where No Man Has Gone Before” but the “location” is wrong). I’m fuzzy about the details, but it looks like it’s a mostly unmanned mining station.
Kirk’s pod lands, burrowing a crater into the thick ice and snow around it. The computer voice identifies it as a Class M planet. It informs Kirk to remain where he is, that personnel from the nearby Starfleet station will come and retrieve him. It also states the Starfleet outpost is somethimg like 14 kilometers to the northwest (or east or wherever).
Kirk isn’t sitting still. He opens the pod, climbs up the “ice cliff” caused by the pod’s landing, and heads out toward the station through the blowing snow On the way he gets attacked by some tiresome Star Wars beasts (maybe the other name for this planet is Hoth). First one big ugly mutant-polar-bear-type beastie tries to eat him. Then another, bigger, bright red ugly beastie kills the first and goes after Kirk. Which makes me wonder (a) why Beastie # 2 would forego a huge banquet (Beastie # 1) for a tiny morsel like Kirk and (b) bright red is not a – dare I say logical? – evolutionary good choice for a creature living in an ice/snow environment.
Anyway, Kirk seeks refuge in a cave, with the bright-red spidery beastie rattling in after him. But someone’s already in the cave, who fends off the beastie with a torch. This is Nimoy’s Spock,”Spock Prime”.
Spock Prime looks at Kirk with affection as Kirk demands his identity. Spock answers with the familiar tone and deliberate pacing: “I am and always have been your friend” and introduces himself. Kirk doesn’t get it or believe him for a moment. Spock Prime cuts to the chase and initiates a mindmeld (Kirk’s not too sure about doing this). Spock Prime reveals all the details about Nero and what happened to Romulus.
Originally, Spock was racing to counter the supernova with a mere drop of the red matter, but the nova moved too fast and wiped out Romulus, leaving Nero rabidly sure Spock had done so on purpose. I’m fuzzy here; I think somehow Nero then captured Spock Prime and stranded him in this ice cave, somehow enabling him to helplessly witness the destruction of Vulcan.
Kirk staggers away after the meld. Spock Prime apologies for sending so much emotion through the meld.
As mentioned above, Kirk asks about if his father had died in the original timeline.
Spock Prime and Kirk make their way to the Starfleet station, which is manned by only two beings – Scotty and a three-foot high gnarly alien. Scotty is delighted to see them, tells them they’re six months late, and where’s the FOOD? He’s been surviving on Starfleet package rations for weeks and he wants real food. Explanations are made, and Scotty reveals he’s been basically exiled here by Admiral Jonathan Archer, because in his zeal to improve transporter technology to allow things like ship-to-ship beaming, he used Archer’s beagle as a guinea pig. (An aside: I hate it when even fictional animals are abused...! I’m presuming that the beagle in question was one in a long line of Archer’s pets, since it can’t be the same one he had on "Enterprise".)
Spock Prime informs Scotty that he (Scotty) will devise the process and technology for ship-to-ship beaming and even transporting between vast areas of space. Scotty is amazed – and excited – that this is to be his own accomplishment. Spock Prime studies Scotty’s current transporter technology design, inputs some code, and Scotty, delighted, sees where he went wrong in his plans. They can now beam to the Enterprise.
Kirk urges Spock Prime to come back to the Enterprise and tell young Spock everything. Spock Prime refuses and gives Kirk technobabble that two of the same people being in the same place at the same time would not be good. Spock Prime tells Kirk that he (Kirk) needs to take command. Spock Prime says something along the lines that young Spock will be too emotionally devastated to command but will conceal it, and that he won’t make the correct decisions because of this. He tells Kirk that Kirk must provoke young Spock into an emotional display. Kirk can then invoke Starfleet regulations and young Spock will agree he’s currently unfit for command and step aside.
Kirk and Scotty and the little alien beam to the Enterprise engine room, but the beam isn’t quite accurate. Kirk and the alien are fine, but Scotty is trapped inside some weird maze of large, clear pipes full of water. This scene didn’t particularly work for me, as he gets washed along, with Kirk racing across the floor beneath trying to get ahead of the rapid flow and save Scotty from being sucked into a huge fan inside a clear vat. Kirk finally is able to release a trapdoor and Scotty is dumped out in a splash of water on the engine room floor.
This triggers a security alarm on the bridge. Spock has them brought to the bridge and questions them, including how the heck they got aboard. Kirk is insolent and completely uncooperative. Spock asks Scotty if he’s part of Starfleet; Scotty says yes, but then says he doesn’t want to get caught up in their argument.
Kirk then attacks Spock verbally, almost in his physical face, nagging that he just saw his entire home planet and its population destroyed, his mother killed, his culture shattered, and how can he have * no * feelings about all this? (I found this scene so painful to watch that I can’t remember exactly what he says). In a parallel scene to when young Spock was hazed by the Vulcan bullies, Spock finally snaps and starts punching and throwing Kirk around, practically wiping (out!) the bridge with Kirk. Spock is choking Kirk when he finally realizes what he is doing. In shock, Spock says he’s emotionally compromised, gives up his command, and leaves the bridge.
McCoy then bitches to Kirk, “Now what? We don’t have a captain, and now we don’t have a first officer.”
Kirk calmly and directly sits in the chair. “We do now.”
(There was an earlier scene in which Kirk was sitting in the center seat and Spock orders him out of it.)
Spock strides quickly through the halls of the Enterprise – to use a cliche, like a man pursued by demons. He encounters Sarek in a quiet room. In an echo of their earlier scene, Spock questions Vulcans’ lack of emotions. Sarek quietly explains to Spock why he married Amanda: “Because I loved her.”
Plot ensues. At some point in the movie, it was revealed that Nero wants to destroy all the Federation planets as his own home world was destroyed, using his drilling platform and tiny drops of the red matter to make each planet implode into an instant black hole. This red matter sits in a huge, round, clear enclosed chamber in his ship, like a shiny red marble the size of one of those massive saved-and-rolled-up-for-decades string balls. A little mini-drill inserted into the chamber will withdraw a tiny floating drop – maybe pea- or marble- sized – which clearly is sufficient to cause all the annihilation we’ve already seen. Chekov, the young whiz, calculates the facts and figures via nifty holographic screens et al. He announces Nero now is heading toward Earth. The Enterprise soon is in pursuit.
But Nero already has reached Earth and sends down his drill.
Kirk wants to rescue Pike. Spock joins him (I forget how this happens). Uhura also joins them as they step onto the transporter room pads. She comes up to give Spock a gentle goodbye kiss. Kirk seems surprised/taken aback; he looks at them and then looks away. Spock says goodbye to “Nyota” and she leaves. Kirk then demands to know if “Nyota” is Uhura’s first name. Spock refuses to confirm this information.
Kirk asks Scotty to beam him to Nero’s ship. Scotty scans the ship and finds the perfect place – what appears to be a cargo hold. He beams them over. It *is* a cargo hold, a dark area tangled with lots of dark nooks and crannies – but since most of Nero’s ship was originally meant for cargo, they wind up beaming into the middle of a bunch of Romulans. Fighting ensues.
Nero’s poorly-lit ship is filled with mid-air platforms leading to nothing, perfect for the movie cliche of the hero fighting on the edge of the cliff. At least, since this is an ore ship, they actually have a reason for this design – but I still can’t figure out why the ship floors are awash with water, except to make everything look just that much more grungy.
At this point, Kirk and Spock just “fall into place” together. They go through this whole sequence as if they’ve been comrades in arms for quite some time. After disposing of a few Romulans, they need to find out where Pike is being held. As Spock mindmelds with an unconscious Romulan, Romulans are coming in for the attack, and Kirk is picking them off with phaser fire. This creates an interesting visual – Spock and the unconscious Romulan are at the far side of the screen, the motionless focal point of the scene while Romulans approach from behind and from the other side, and Kirk disposes of them all.
Spock breaks the meld and tells Kirk what they’re looking for is “in Captain Pike” – I apologize that I don’t recall exactly what this trigger was called, but they were determined to rescue Pike anyway, so...what the heck. Scrambling through various twisty-turny jagged dark corridors, they soon locate and rescue Pike. But now they have to get out of there.
Somewhere around this point,.the Enterprise is trying to figure out how to get to Earth and stop the drill and Nero before Nero spots them coming and blows them into tiny space-bits. Whiz-kid Chekov hustles to his computers and screens and says they can drop in behind Saturn’s largest moon Titan while Saturn’s rings will scramble some sort of give-away signals of their presence. The Enterprise does just that, but Nero’s drill is still busy doing its nasty thing. There is a view of cadets rushing in front of the Starfleet Academy building while the ground shakes. The camera pans away from them and shows the Golden Gate Bridge with the drill’s pointy zap-ray pounding into the waters of San Francisco Bay. Time’s running out.
In the mindmeld between Spock Prime and Kirk in the icecave that explains the destruction of Romulus and Nero’s obsession with repaying Spock in kind, we see Ambassador Spock’s ship. It’s a very odd vessel, shaped a little like the body of a dart with a spinning fan-like ring near one end. It looks kind of like one of those battery-operated whirly hold-in-your-hand-fans you can buy in the summertime at amusement parks, etc. Nero has this ship inside his ship. Now, aboard Nero’s ship and ready to get the hell outta there, Kirk and Spock quibble over who should take this ship and use it to finish off Nero and find a way to destroy the red matter.
Spock says something about how Vulcans and Romulans share some common ancestry or physiology, so he should be able to understand and manuever the little ship’s controls more easily and efficiently than Kirk, who has no argument against such logic. So Spock climbs aboard. The vessel “recognizes” him immediately and welcomes “Ambassador Spock” on board.
In an echo of George Kirk’s sacrifice, Spock manages to escape the confines of Nero’s ship. He zips around, firing potshots at the drill and finally severing the middle of its long, metal-snake shape. The drill collapses, crashing down through the atmosphere, very narrowly avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m a little hazy on the exact sequence of events in this action-filled segment of the movie. Kirk and Pike are beamed safely to the Enterprise. When they form on the transporter room pads, Scotty is amazed and delighted over the success. Pike is sagging but not too mangled,despite the critter still attached to his brainstem, I assume.... Note: When someone is transporting, you pretty much hear the familiar beaming sound effect.
Nero’s ship still is Right There hanging above Earth. Spock then flies in a suicide trajectory back toward Nero’s ship. The usual we’re-now-out-of-time-last-seconds, but the Enterprise shows up and beams Spock back on board. Kirk contacts Nero, offering to beam Nero over to safety before his ship is destroyed completely. Nero sneers and snarls (what would you expect?) that if he ain’t got Romulus and his revenge on Spock, he ain’t got nothing.
Spock’s gallant little vessel smashes into the center of Nero’s ship, wreaking lots of fiery special effects havoc. Since the big ball of red matter was kept in the bowels of Nero’s ship, it appears said ship explodes and goes bye-bye – with Nero, it would seem. So I guess this means Nero cannot return for Star Trek # Next, unless they pull a fast one.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Spock and Kirk, now very comfortable with each other, have a brief conversation about friendship and how their past differences are now in the past. I wish I could recall more of the words, because my friend MR sitting next to me (who also can’t recollect anything specific, alas) feels it was a rather open-ended, candid indication that their friendship could lead to all kinds of things.
We then see Spock, walking alone on the Academy grounds. There’s an elderly Vulcan walking in front of him. He calls out, “Father”, but when the man turns it’s Nimoy’s Spock, not Sarek.
Young Spock is stunned. He then points out Kirk had told him that Spock Prime had said him two identical beings could not exist in the same space. Spock Prime replies that Kirk inferred that from what he had told him. Young Spock accuses, “You lied.” Spock Prime replies that “I allowed him to make an inference from my explanation.”
Spock Prime explains he has come here because he wants to find a suitable new world for the remaining 10,000 Vulcans to colonize. He wants to help this come to pass. After a short conversation, Spock Prime bids young Spock goodbye. He gives him the Vulcan salute and says something like, “It would be self-serving to give you my usual salutation, so instead I’ll wish you good luck.”
We then see the main Academy Hall. The guy in charge says in the view of your valor, etc., we drop the charges. In a karmic nod to the original, Captain Pike is there in a wheelchair. Since Pike can no longer command, Kirk is named captain of the Enterprise.
In the final scene Kirk steps out onto the bridge – wearing the gold uniform shirt. (The uniforms all look very nice.)
The final scene, if I’m recalling correctly, is of the Enterprise in space. As the screen fades to black, they begin playing the TV Star Trek theme.
The movie is dedicated to Gene and Majel Roddenberry
The music. Most of the music was cool, but every once in awhile they have a chorus of space angels vocalizing (maybe in a nod to the theme from TOS, but in TOS they had the sense not to have the space angels singing as part of the background music.)
Scotty has a moment where he talks about “the engines!”
At some point the doctor is killed and McCoy becomes the CMO.
Nero’s ship is humongous and reminds me, in the teeniest way, of the Vorlon ship in Babylon 5. It’s all black and dark grays and * spiky * like a razor-sharp rigid and dead-cold Mohawk hair style.
The Vulcan landscape is designed to resemble Vasquez Rocks (where so many of the outdoor scenes from TOS were filmed, including “Arena”).
There are a number of aliens in background scenes. Aside from green-skinned girl, there are several other aliens in Starfleet uniforms, including a big-eyed alien medic who assists in Kirk’s birth. Very nice effect – her face is otherwise human, but the eyes are as big as golf balls and seemed very natural.
There’s a tribute to the elaborate hairstyles in TOS – nothing as extravagant as Janice Rand, but several female cadets have their hair twisted up in what looks like an infinity sign on top of their heads.
Re the space battles, too much ultra closeups and not enough perspective. And they seem very enamored of this weird light-flashing effect; they use it a bit too often.
OK, that’s all I can think of. I know I’ve missed some details, and I wish I could have remembered a couple of conversations in more detail. But you’ll all be seeing the movie soon anyway....
Final observation: the emotional storyline between Kirk and Spock parallels the classic het romance of “hate at first sight”, then attraction, then..... ;-)
This is an AU. This movie diverges from TOS canon and any future movies will continue to diverge from TOS canon. Time has been changed, and in the context of their plotline is not fixable. They state this specifically. Several characters explicitly realize their lives have been set on a different course because of the time change.
The BIGGIE for me: The planet Vulcan was destroyed. Amanda was killed.
Spock/Uhura. Yes, but not nearly as much as people have speculated. She offers him a shoulder to cry on (he doesn’t) after the loss of his world and his mother; they kiss in one or two more scenes; there’s no indications that they will (or won’t) carry this on any further.
Nimoy is in two scenes, one in the middle of the movie, one at the end.
Nimoy stays in this time period – he has found a suitable world for the remaining Vulcans to colonize.