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Star Trek 2009 poster

When I saw the movie on opening night, I loved it. It was fun. It was fast. The opening scene was gripping and intense. The visuals were flashy. It had plenty of humor. And Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy ROCKED!

Over time, though, my nitpicky cynicism started to kick in, and started to seem more and more like a Hollywood bastardization. It started with the observation (on opening night) that the crew of the Kelvin had the Enterprise "delta shield" flight patches on their tunics, instead of the ship-specific flight patches that were in use during the original series and before.

Really, who are these people?

Eventually, I started to be bothered by the insistence that all the characters have to turn out exactly like their original series counterparts, despite having their origins and life histories significantly changed. Apparently, in the J.J. Abrams' Star Trek universe, a person's "destiny" is a complete matter of "nature" rather than "nurture".

The writers put themselves in a catch-22 with this one. If they changed the character's personalities, then fans would cry foul that they made a "Star Trek" movie and got the characters wrong. So instead, they probably figured they could piss off fewer people if they just made charicature mockeries of all the characters, but make it funny enough that most people won't mind.

This problem is no more apparent than with Kirk. In fact, it is even referred to in the movie. He doesn't have a father anymore. He never knew him. But this is a guy who's supposed to be - by the movie's own admission - the inspiration and motivation for Kirk to join Starfleet!

So instead of growing up with a father that he respected and adored, he grew up with an uncle that he disliked so much, that a young Kirk drove his uncle's prized Corvette off a cliff apparently "just cause". In fact, in a deleted scene, the young Kirk tells his brother about how he hates his adopted uncle, but I'm going to disregard that because it wasn't actually in the movie (pending a "Director's Cut" or whatever being released that reintegrates those scenes). And we are supposed to expect that this delinquent is supposed to grow up to be a Starfleet commander with the same sense of duty, respect, and devotion to his crew and ship that he had in the original series? Despite such a fundamental change to his upbringing?

All the other characters seem like charicatures of their former selves. It was cute and funny at first, but got old after a few viewings.

Just because Sulu got "drunk" and danced around the ship with a fencing sword one time in the Original Series (we don't even know that the sword is his), they give him a telescoping katana that he apparently keeps on his person at all times because he didn't have time to stop at his quarters to pick it up on the way to the shuttle.

Leonard "Bones" McCoy is not nicknamed "Bones" because "all [he's] got left is [his] bones". The nickname "Bones" is supposed to be a reference to his Southern roots and the term "saw bones" (or "old saw bones"), which was used to describe Civil War doctors who would often perform amputations on the battlefields with hand saws. Other than that minor complaint, though, Karl Urban completely nailed the character of Dr. McCoy and I absolutely loved every second that he was on screen!

I didn't mind some of the changes to Uhura. Her character in the original series was a very sexist portrayal of women. She was the captain's secretary, was completely incompetant in her job, and served as a damsel in distress on numerous occasions. Seriously, watch the show. She's pathetic. By the time the movies came around, her character had matured and was actually a capable officer.

So changes to Uhura were mostly positive. However, the Spock-Uhura relationship was completely unnecessary, and it's only purpose for being in the movie was to a.) reinforce the idea that Spock is NOT GAY (apparently, the writers thought that needed to be explicitly stated), and to b.) give Zoe Saldana (whatever her name is) something to do in the movie after she tells Kirk about the Klingon transmission. Seriously, watch the movie again. Uhura does NOTHING except makeout with - or stand next to - Spock for the rest of the movie. But she's the eye candy to attract teenage audiences, so we have to cram her into as many shots as we possibly can. Even though the one scene of her undressing in the trailers was more than enough to get that audience to shell out the money to see the movie.

But at least that was part of the story. There's also examples of things the writers/producers/artists changed just for the hell of it.

Science fiction ships are not a size contest!

For example, they scaled up the volume of the Enterprise (and all Starfleet ships) by at least 8 or 16 times for the sole purpose of making sure that the shuttlebay is big enough to hold the excessive amount of shuttles shown on screen. They treat these starships like they are aircraft carriers. This is not Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica, and the Enterprise is not a Star Destroyer or Battlestar. It is not launching TIE Fighters and Vipers.

What's worse is that they didn't even bother to update the detailing or texturing, so the ship looks like it should be the same size as the original (with windows, hatches, lights, etc being in the same place and roughly the same proportion as the Enterprise from the first movie). So this was clearly a late and arbitrary decision by someone on the post-production management staff. This new "original series" Enterprise is now longer than the Enterprise-E and about 50% taller than the Enterprise-D. This resizing served no value to the story, and was only done to make the ship look "more impressive", and it is just one more thing for nitpicky fans like me to complain about.

2009 Star Trek - Enterprise size comparision
So which is it? 366 meters - and the shuttle bay being impossibly large? Or being 735 meters - and all the windows are 2 decks tall?

I also would have preferred to see Carol Marcus be the lab technician who Kirk sleeps with to gain access to the Kobyashi Maru test, instead of some random (but very hot) green-skinned Orion chick. Kirk DOESN'T have a thing for green chicks! That was actually Pike who had the thing for green chicks. There was ONE episode in which Kirk had relations with a green woman. And she was the one who seduced him. And she was bat-shit insane. And Kirk only did it to take advantage of her and gain an upper-hand. And then she got blown up. Literally.

Nit-pick time!

  • No reference to Robert April.
  • Starfleet ships are way too large for that time period. A scout ship with a crew of 800 and carrying about 2 or 3 dozen shuttles? Are you kidding me?
  • The Enterprise being assembled on Earth and not in the San Francisco ship yards in space. How does that structure (especially being as supersized as it is) even stand the stresses of taking off from a planet surface?
  • Scotty has tribbles, even though no human had ever encountered a tribble prior to the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles" in TOS's second season.
  • The engine room is a brewery? Really? I know the original Enterprise's warp core wasn't the familiar upright tube to begin with, but a brewery?

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the Star Trek that I know and love is now once and for all dead. No new content belonging to the original timeline will probably ever be made again (except in books and maybe video games, but none of that stuff is canonical). And instead of a true continuation or deepening of the original story, we have a complete replacement. It's still a good movie, and lots of fun to watch. I don't hate it. It just isn't "Star Trek" anymore. It's just a random "space adventure" movie with characters named after and loosely inspired by characters from the original Star Trek.

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