Very minor spoilers below; I don't mention anything specific, but I do talk about things in general terms, so if you don't want to know anything at all, don't read.
Overall, I enjoyed it, but it was nothing special. Iron Man 3 did several of the same things, and did them better.
The cast were all strong. Quinto can run! His eyebrows are so good. Cumberbatch did the physical stuff very well too. Pegg was funny, as always. Saldana didn't have much to work with, but worked it well. The rest all had a moment or two in which to shine, and we got Captain Sulu, which is always a win.
There were far too many white men, though. I really wanted the Admiralty scene to have more women and people of colour, and in particular, the head cheese would have been much, much better as a woman, in every way -- thematically, as a twist, furthering Rodenberry's ideals. Just. Such a missed opportunity. I liked Peter Weller fine, but I'm so tired of that particular character popping up in movies.
The TOS echoes were the highlight of the film for me, along with Zoe Saldana, who really is fabulous, despite having not much to do. There's one scene with her and Kirk in the lift that was so enjoyable; my fannish heart went: YES!
The opening was visually gorgeous, but felt like a cheat; I expect more cleverness from Trek plots. The middle was boring. The ending was pretty spectacular, and I really liked the way they re-worked some of the iconic original Trek moments -- when you see it you will all know which scene I mean in particular.
In the boring moments in the stodgy middle, I found myself thinking about original Trek and making comparisons. For instance:
- There were many clever things about TOS, but one of the writing choices I really admire is that the three leads (and this is why there are three) represent the corners of the rhetorical triangle: Kirk=ethos, Spock=logos, Bones=pathos. That's why they debate things all the time, and why Bones and Spock are polar opposites, and why Kirk is the mediator. It drives nearly all of the plot and conflict, and it's so clever. The first reboot film didn't have this at all, and was weaker for it. I thought it interesting that they started to work that dynamic back into the second film, and highlighting Kirk's ethics was the one saving grace for the otherwise heavy-handed opening sequence.
- Amanda Grayson invented the Universal Translator in TOS. How are they going to deal with that in nuTrek? Or are they not? In any case, it makes Uhura's role more important which I'm all for.
- There's a lot of speculation in TOS fandom that Kirk had a high psi factor of some sort -- probably empathy or pre-cog. It explained a lot of things about him and the choices he made, even though in TOS he had a more logically trained and educated mind. It actually explains rebook Kirk even better, so I'm officially re-instituting this bit of fanon into my personal headcanon.
Spoiler about the main villain
About the casting of Cumberbatch. This is not a simple thing. Khan is an important part of TOS canon, so I can see why they wanted to engage with that storyline. Having made that choice, there are two conflicting issues with regards to casting Khan. Obviously, casting Cumberbatch whitewashes an important character of colour, and that's crappy, especially in a film with so many white men already. That said, Khan as originally conceived was alluding to the "yellow peril" and "evil foreigner" stereotypes -- it's a credit to Ricardo Montalban that he managed to make the role so much more. However, to perpetuate that stereotype, no matter how well acted, is also crappy. It's one of the reasons IM3 did what it did with The Mandarin. You just can no longer play the "yellow peril" card in films without considering the way it stereotypes race, thank god finally.
All of that said, the solution to this is not that hard -- have lots of other diversity in your casting, so that Khan is not the only major character or colour. Duh! See that J.J. Abrams? Choosing a white person is the slacker's way out of the dilemma; you fail the Kobayashi Maru.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/398