Space, the final frontier, to boldly flog dead horses where no dead horses have been flogged before!”
How many Star Trek films have there actually been? I’m a fan and even I have lost count so hearing that there was a new one in the offing , and one that was to be a prequel detailing the friendships of Kirk, Spock and the others forming, I was dubious. Was there really anything left to say about these characters that had not already been said? The answer surprisingly is yes.
Watching the new actors take on these iconic roles is actually fun. The actors are great and the script is fun, zipping along at speed and managing a tightrope walk between knowing in jokes for the die hard fans and fresh introductions for uninitiated. It’s genuinely funny and showcases a real chemistry between the cast. The effects work is flawless, and so for the first hour it’s hugely enjoyable entertainment.
But then we get to the actual plot and everything falls apart. There is something about time travel. We get to see whole planets disintegrated and there is some future space age deadly material/scientific break through type thing called red matter that the bad guy has stolen. With no adequate explanation of what it is or where it comes from it offers no threat rendering the bad guy with his plans for galaxy scale genocide a toothless villain. The bad guy is the real problem here. Having lost his wife in a super nova (how careless) he has decided to destroy the entire galaxy. Call me picky but attempting to destroy the galaxy because you’ve lost your wife is a bit of an over reaction isn’t it?
Like too many science fiction films before it the bad guy is nothing more than an unshaven man who growls a lot and steels weapons. His motivations are explained by Spock in such a shockingly bald manner you feel like you are actually watching a script meeting where someone suggests an idea rather than a finished film. It’s an unforgivably lazy way of telling a story.
A further problem is the fact that the destruction of these planets is rendered in such an impersonal manner. In the opening minutes of the film we witness a hapless space cadet suffering a nasty death in the cold hard vacuum of space. It’s up close and personal and even though we do not know her it packs an emotional punch. The destruction of six billion people however is treated such nonchalance that the film is robbed of any drama.
There are some fist fights on high ledges with no safety rails and then some big explosions and then it’s all over, clichés dutifully accounted for. It’s such a pity because as mentioned the early character based part of the film was fantastic. A note to anyone getting to work on the sequel. A decent story and a properly motivated bad guy will make all the difference.
This was 50% of a good film. Next time can we have the whole thing please?