First Aired :
The whole story regarding the destruction of Romulus is nonsense from a scientific point of view. First off, it's virtually impossible that a single supernova could threaten the whole galaxy. Destroy the planets in one system, yes. Be potentially dangerous to life in nearby systems, yes. But nothing significant beyond that. It's about like saying that a stick of dynamite could explode and destroy America! Then, it's shown that the supernova destroys Romulus. Spock subsequently sucks it up with his black hole, AFTER it's exploded. The supernova explosion would be expanding at the speed of light; if Spock got there even a few hours late he'd have to create a black hole of truly stunning size to suck this up - the event horizon would have to encompass most of a solar system. To give you a sense of scale, the average black hole produced by a supernova is something like 50 kilometres across. Spock would have to make something in the region of tens of millions of times larger than this, at the very least.
In the original series Delta Vega is a planet on the edge of the galaxy. The location of the planet should not really be something that changes in an alternate universe, and yet now Spock can apparently SEE Vulcan being destroyed from the surface of Delta Vega. Hell, simply diverting there to drop him off should have been a pretty major undertaking for Nero. One claim that's thrown around for this is that Delta Vega is a moon of Vulcan, which is therefore close enough for Spock to see the planet. However, Kirk is dumped on Delta Vega after the Enterprise has already been at warp for some time. Any Vulcan moons should be left far behind by now. So Delta Vega has to be in some other star system, and yet not the one we saw in TOS.
The travel times seem really strange in this movie. When the Enterprise heads to Vulcan Kirk gets a shot from McCoy that knocks him out. We then cut to Sulu saying the ship has reached maximum warp. Pike orders Chekov to announce the ship's mission to the crew which he does... and caps it off by saying they will be at Vulcan in three minutes. So how long was Kirk asleep from a "mild sedative"? A time short enough that the ship didn't even reach maximum warp - surely a matter of minutes, no more than an hour or so even being generous. Meaning the Enterprise reached Vulcan in an hour or so! We might claim that the ship takes days to accelerate to top speed... but when Kirk warns Pike about the attack on Vulcan Uhura confirms that she picked up the distress call from the Klingons "last night". There is no way to avoid it; this trip does NOT take days, it takes hours at the very most and most likely less than an hour. And this is not something special to the Enterprise, as half a dozen other Starships leave shortly before the Enterprise does and arrive shortly before she does.
When he takes command, Kirk informs the crew that Spock has resigned his commission. This would mean that Spock quit Starfleet. He resigned his COMMAND, not his commission.
When the captain of the Kelvin goes to the shuttle bay, we see an exterior view of the lift descending to the hangar bay floor. However, look at the Kelvin exteriors - the hangar is the topmost part of the ship, well above the saucer section where the bridge is. The lift should have been going up, not down.
It's obvious from the visuals that Nero's drill head stops miles above the surface of Vulcan - how far we can't say for sure, but Kirk and Sulu fall for more than a minute when the drill begins to retract, and on Earth that would translate to something in the region of two miles, or 10,000 feet. On Vulcan, with higher gravity, it should be comfortably more than this. In TOS "Amok Time", Vulcan's atmosphere was so thin that Kirk had great trouble fighting Spock in it. Here he is a good ten thousand feet higher up at an absolute minimum, yet both Kirk and Sulu whip off their helmets and battle away without any problems whatever.
When Kirk, Sulu and Redshirt guy make their parachute jump, we see a scene on the bridge that shows a tactical display with Red in front, then Kirk, and then Sulu. An instant later it cuts to show the actual guys and Kirk is in front, followed by Sulu and Red at the rear.
Nero spends much of the movie with scars on his head and the tip of one ear missing. However, the missing ear point switches from right to left in some shots.
Great Moment :
Have to give it to the actors who played the original cast. It is an intimidating job for an actor to play an iconic role made hugely famous by somebody else, but they pull it off superbly. Most especially Karl Urban does the most amazing job imaginable as Leonard McCoy. There are moments you literally forget that you aren't watching DeForest Kelly. Chris Pine just owns Kirk, without really copying Shatner at all he just takes the role and makes it his. And what can you say about Zachary Quinto? He not only played an iconic character made famous by another actor, but he played against that same actor playing that same character in the same scene! To even attempt this is remarkable.
Loved Kirk's offer to assist Nero at the end there. For all the youth and cockiness that he showed through the film, this was a moment when you saw a glimpse of the man that he would become. And I had to laugh at Spock's "Not really, no. Not this time."
Lots of little moments. The origin of Kirk's name : Tiberius is his paternal grandfather's name. James is his maternal grandfather's name. The origin of "Bones" - McCoy comments that his ex-wife took the whole planet from him in the divorce, leaving him only his bones. Chekov having trouble with the computer not understanding his accent.
Body Count :
The USS Kelvin's captain is killed by Nero. George Kirk dies when the Kelvin rams the Narada; at least one other crewmember is killed in that battle. The crews of 47 Klingon ships are killed off screen, as are the crews of seven Starfleet ships at Vulcan. The large majority of Vulcan's 6 billion population are killed, including Spock's mother and two others we see directly. One redshirt dies attacking the drill head, along with two Romulans. Several more Romulans are killed on the Narada - ultimately her entire crew s killed. The destruction of Romulus is seen in flashback, presumably with billions more killed. This is the highest body count of any piece of Star Trek that I am aware of.
Although the first name Nyota has been used for Uhura in many sources, this movie marks the first time it has ever been used on screen.
Her role as the computer voice in this movie was the last role Majel Barrett filmed before her death.
The gun battle on the mining ship was scripted as a fist fight; it was changed on the day it was filmed.
When we first meet Scotty, look at the cage he has on his desk - there's a Tribble in it.
The original plan was to have both Shatner and Nimoy come back in time to meet their younger selves. But it was felt that it would be wrong to bring Kirk back from the dead for this film.
If you look carefully at the various platforms Spock passes when he is stealing the older Spock's ship from the mining vessel, you can see a Vulcan lander from the movie First Contact parked on one of them.
Up until now the character of Kirk has only ever been played by two people. With this movie that rises to five - Chris Pine, Jimmy Bennett, and whomever played Kirk as a baby!
The USS Kelvin is on a mission in near the Klingon border when it encounters a "lightning storm in space." Investigating, the ship encounters a vast Romulan vessel emerging from the storm. The Romulan ship attacks and disables the Kelvin, whose crew only escape when Lieutenant Kirk stays behind to occupy the attacker whilst the shuttles escape; Kirk finally rams the ship, a loss made more poignant as we see his wife give birth to his son just moments before he dies.
The movie shows us a few selected scenes of Kirk and Spock growing up, both having difficult childhoods. At 22 Kirk is a drifter, in trouble with the law, brawling in bars and generally wasting his life - until he meets Captain Christopher Pike, who tells him what his father achieved in Starfleet and dares him to do better. Kirk enrolls the next day, meeting Leonard McCoy as they ship out.
Three years later Kirk is in trouble again for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test; during the inquest an emergency arises when it appears Vulcan is suffering a natural disaster. With the bulk of Starfleet occupied in another system the cadets are sent to work on the ships in dock to respond to the crisis. Although Kirk is technically suspended McCoy sneaks him aboard the Enterprise, where he realises that the Vulcan disaster is in fact an attack by the same Romulan ship. The warning does little good; on arrival the Enterprise finds herself massively outgunned by the Romulan ship, which is drilling into the planet Vulcan from a rig lowered into the atmosphere. The Romulan commander, Nero, demands that Pike surrender. Pike does, but sends Kirk, Sulu and a Redshirt to parachute to the drill head and sabotage it. They succeed, but Nero has already reached the core and drops a particle of "red matter" into it, creating a black hole which destroys the planet within minutes. Spock manages to save the planet's leaders, including his father - but must watch his mother killed moments before she would have reached safety.
Spock decides to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet before taking on Nero, much to Kirk's displeasure. The argument boils up to such an extent that Spock has Kirk literally thrown off the ship, dumping him on the planet Delta Vega. There Kirk finds the older Spock, who explains what is happening. In the 2380s a supernova threatened the galaxy and Spock attempted to destroy it by using red matter to create a black hole which would suck it up into nothing. He succeeded, but not before the supernova destroyed Romulus. Nero, incensed by what he saw as a betrayal, attacked Spock's ship and both of them fell into the black hole, emerging in the past; Nero in 2233, Spock in 2258. Nero, with a 25 year head start, was waiting when Spock emerged and quickly captured him and his supply of red matter. Nero dumped Spock on Delta Vega so that he could endure the loss of Vulcan just as Nero had to endure the loss of Romulus. Nero further intends to destroy all other Federation planets so as to allow Romulus to reign supreme.
Kirk and Spock meet up with Engineer Scott on a Federation base on Delta Vega. Spock shows them how to use a transporter to beam back onto the Enterprise at long range, which they do. Kirk pushes Spock into losing his temper, demonstrating that he is emotionally unfit to command. Accepting this, Spock steps down - leaving Kirk in command. Kirk heads to Earth and he and Spock beam onto Nero's ship. In a fierce battle Spock steals older Spock's ship from the future along with its supply of red matter and uses it to destroy the drill rig completely. He then heads back to Nero's ship to ram it. Nero fires everything he has at the ship - but the Enterprise comes to the rescue, blasting the Romulan torpedoes out of space and clearing a path. Meanwhile Kirk rescues Captain Pike and all three beam back to Enterprise moments before the collision. The red matter in Spock's ship ignites, trapping Nero's ship in a black hole. Kirk offers to assist, but Nero says he would rather die - and Kirk happily takes him up on it, blasting the ship to pieces. Enterprise manages to just barely escape the black hole by detonating its warp cores behind the ship, the blast throwing them clear.
Back on Earth Kirk receives his first medal and is appointed Captain of the Enterprise, replacing the now Admiral Pike.
In short, I loved this.
The idea of Trek movie with different actors playing Kirk, Spock and the gang horrified me. I couldn't imagine such a thing ever working. Worse still, the very concept seemed to represent an admission that those who make this stuff had simply run out of ideas and decided to cycle round. When the movie was announced, I sighed and wondered if this would mark the end of my Trek fandom. But then a curious thing happened. Every time stuff leaked out about the movie... I found myself not minding. When the new Enterprise pictures came out there are Trek fans that went apoplectic with anger. And I should really be one of those people... because I'm the guy who DOES enjoy talking about how warp drive works, and what colour phaser beams should be, and why nacelles look one way in TOS and another way in TNG and so on. I'm the guy who has written thousands of pages about that stuff for the other guys who like it too! I should hate the new Enterprise. Only... I don't. I actually like it. I like the funky shaped nacelles. I like the turbine engine thing at the front. I like the sleek hull. I like the fact that it's built on a planet, even. I saw it on the surface and thought "huh, what gives? They build these things in space!" But then I looked at that picture and thought "wow... that actually looke pretty damn cool." And then I thought about it and thought "You know... working with gravity and atmosphere is way easier than working in space... and launching a thing like that into space would be really easy for people with the kinds of engines they have in Trek..." And now I wonder why anybody would ever go to the trouble of building a ship in space at all. I saw the cast pictures... and I liked them. I saw the trailers.. and they ROCKED! I actually got more and more excited about seeing the movie, and especially when the reviews started coming out and not one single one of them was negative. I couldn't wait!
The smartest thing they do in this movie by FAR is the scene where everyone stops to talk about how Nero coming through his black hole has created an alternate universe. Why? Because it gives them a blank cheque. It tells the audience "hey, that Star Trek that you love? It's still there! It's intact, one universe over. We're not messing with it! We're not raping your childhood here! We're doing our own SEPARATE thing!" And that means this is essentially a new universe where they can meddle as they please. Wonderful... if they can pull it off.
And god DAMN did they pull it off! Characters. Every actor in this movie pulls off their character. In order... Karl Urban is absolute perfection as McCoy. He just is. There were times I came close to honestly forgetting that I wasn't watching Deforest Kelley on the screen. After a few viewings you notice that a LOT of his lines are McCoy classics, direct repetition of things said in the original series. Yet it never comes across as forced in any way.
Chris Pine has a slightly harder job, and whilst he doesn't acquit himself quite as well, he really does do a great job as Kirk. One thing that bothered me a little was just how cocky and self assured Pine plays Kirk as. It's a commonly held belief that Kirk was a bit of an egomaniac in TOS. In fact, he really wasn't. Kirk was a man who weighed what to do, thought carefully about his options, and often agonised about whether he had made the right choice or not. Had Pine simply been the cocky young guy, I don't think I would have liked him. But there's a moment that rescues this character and sets it right; towards the end, when Kirk has Nero trapped and helpless... he offers to rescue him. Spock is genuinely confused and disapproving of this, but Kirk simply points out that it's the compassionate thing to do, and may enable the Federation to build peace with the Romulans. It's a small moment, played for a laugh from Spock actually. But in that moment we see past the youthful ego of Kirk and into the true strength and depth that lies below. In that moment, I saw Chris Pine's Kirk blend seamlessly into Bill Shatner's Kirk.
Quinto as Spock has perhaps the hardest role in this film, and while he doesn't struggle with it at all, the choices are a little bit ill at ease. As I mention above, he takes on a near impossible task - playing the young Spock directly against Leonard Nimoy playing the original. Frankly, it does emphasise, somewhat, that Quinto just isn't as good in this role as Nimoy was. And yet Quinto does create a new character here, a spin on Spock who is his own. Showing Spock having a romantic relationship with Uhura is a choice some fans have questioned, but it raises the question "just how different IS this Spock"? And in a way, it excuses Quinto being so different from Nimoy. He's the same character... but very much his own man. Overall, it does work.
Less to say about the others. What is noticable is that everybody gets their own moment, their chance to contribute to the story. So often in the TOS movies Chekov and Sulu were pretty much set decoration, people there to say "now at warp speed sir" and little else. But here... Sulu not only fights on the drill head alongside Kirk, but he kills BOTH of the Romulan miners, and saves Kirk's life. If not for Sulu, Kirk would have died right there and Nero would have ultimately won. Minutes later, Chekov gets his moment when he rushes down to the transporter to save the plummeting Kirk and Sulu - and I just love his repeated "I can do that! I can do that!" as he dashes to the rescue. Uhura is the one who tells Kirk about the attack on the Klingons. Scotty gets Kirk back to the Enterprise. Every one of the main characters on the Enterprise does something which, had it not been done, would have led to the failure of the ship's ultimate mission. It's GREAT!
Nero... Nero is something of a cipher. And actually, I'm okay with that. Nero isn't some great sweeping villain. He isn't a Khan or a Chang who will quote literature at you. He's just a working joe who lost everything he cared about, and then lost himself in a rage that won't end. The thing is, people actually DO that in real life. Keep an eye on the news; it won't be too long until you see some office shmoe who snapped one day, pulled a gun out, and decided to see how many he could get before they got him. That's Nero. He's the guy who snapped, and just decided to run wild until he was brought down. And that's just what he does.
So we come to the story. Time travel... again! Ugh. And yet, they actually use it. They don't reset everything at the end in a corny "hey, nothing you just saw really matters!" sort of a way. They put the time travel in there, and then they follow it through to its consequences and never flinch. It works.
Mercifully, there's little technobabble. "Red matter"... we don't need a spiel about how it does what it does. Red matter makes black holes, Nero has it, that's all we need to know about it. If you read the Countdown comic you find Nero's ship is refitted with Borg technology before he comes back in time, which is why it is so huge and weird looking. They don't even mention it, because they don't need to. A dialogue about who and what the Borg were and how the Romulans got hold of the tech is something this movie just doesn't need.
There's a lot of weird coincidences and random silliness in the movie, admittedly. The travel times are strange, as I mentioned above. The idea of a cadet finding himself in command of a ship is fairly absurd - in this movie cadets seem to just jump randomly into officer ranks whenever the movie feels like. And the crowning silliness in that regard is that Kirk apparently graduates the academy straight into a Captaincy. It's daft... but it's not a big deal, IMO.
So. Big success all around, apparently the box office is rolling in, and Star trek XII has already been approved. Could we have asked for more? I for one can't wait to see where they will take it next.