PG-13, because Captain Kirk's meta reputation followed him into the new reboot. Kirk likes being promiscuous. The new franchise is a bit more extreme. There's an example of genocide. That's something happens in a movie that I watched with my kids. There's violence and blood. A guy dies by getting incinerated. Take the old Star Trek and add a Monster drink. That's my parental advisory. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
When I heard that they were making a new Star Trek movie set in Kirk's timeline starring the crew of the Enterprise, I nearly lost my mind. That initial teaser of the Enterprise being constructed I watched on repeat. For me, Star Trek was gone. It was gone for a lot of fans, so the idea of SOMETHING coming back was worth holding out hope for. I have complex feelings about the Kelvinverse, a term used for the Star Trek reboot movies. When I first saw it, I adored it. I can even safely say that the first Star Trek is consistently entertaining and watchable. But I also have to kind of admit...it really isn't Star Trek.
I mean, it kind of is. There was all this talk, especially after Abrams got Star Wars, that this was all an audition tape for Abrams getting his hands on his Shangri-La. He always admitted that he never really cared for Star Trek. As a devoted Trekkie and a laissez-faire Star Wars fan, that bit of information is always scratching at the back of my head when I watch this movie. Of course, in 2009, I wanted to get my hands on more and more Kelvinverse stuff. It came out at a smart time. We really couldn't gripe because it was just far enough away that it looked like Star Trek was dying. Now we have CBS All Access (that's a whole other Pandora's Box that I'm not ready to open), it's a different landscape. I enjoy Discovery a lot. I'm slightly ashamed to say that because I know that fans of things only like the old things. But it puts the Kelvinverse into perspective. If you read my reviews on the other films in the franchise, I always kind of argue that the films aren't really Star Trek. I don't think that gets any more true than the Kelvinverse. The original films are always on the fringes of the original mission statement. Take Roddenberry's vision of allegory and model behavior and keep that in mind when making an engaging Hollywood blockbuster. They don't always succeed, but that seems to be the thing that's running in the background. Star Trek doesn't really do that. Star Trek does a lot of guilty pleasure stuff that doesn't really remind us why we like Star Trek. Me, I saw these movies as fan service. I don't mind that at all. These characters kinda sorta remind us of the old ones (except for Karl Urban's Leonard McCoy. He can do no wrong) in situations that the characters would never really confront. As much as I say that the old ones were blockbusters, that was always the ambition. This is the full on, energy drink spewing, powered by Axe body spray version of Star Trek that Paramount Pictures probably always wanted to make. Even though the film is fan service, the goal is to get the Next Generation (pun intended) of viewers onto Star Trek.
Because here's the unfortunate truth that Star Trek fans don't want to admit. Despite being on for 50 years, Star Trek is far from a cold fusion, self-sustaining entity. Some things will last forever. I don't want to speculate, but I think that Marvel and DC will exist, in some form, for a long long time. I can't forsee an end to Saturday Night Live. But we all thought Star Trek was in that camp. It really wasn't. Star Trek was really afraid to grow with the times. My case-in-point, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That show got swept under the rug. It tried to change the formula too much. So it died for a while. When we were presented with baby steps, a lot of us turned away. To save Star Trek, we kind of needed the Kelvinverse. Now, I'm a guy who really got mad at the New 52. The DCeU is abhorrent to me. But the Kelvinverse, for all of its flaws, makes the most sense. It was the Frankenstein's monster because Star Trek was dead. It was straight up dead. The general public had grown tired of Roddenberry's vision. The only way to sell that was to give it to the Transformers guys. (I also loathe the Transformers movies.)
As a movie in itself, it is probably more clever than a lot of prequels. We've never really met James Kirk at the Academy, shy of the YA novels co-written by William Shatner. Casino Royale and Batman Begins showed us that reboots can bring in audiences. I think that Star Trek read the room correctly. I don't think a lot of people wanted a Batman Begins or Casino Royale clone. Instead, they tweaked the formula. They made it a semi-reboot. The events of all of Star Trek history had happened. They all existed. Picard, the Squire of Gothos, the Dominion War...all of it. (And now I parodied Abrams's Star Wars movie.) Can I tell you how that little detail makes the movie something special for me? As goofy as the whole movie is, the film actually has the guts to not wipe the slate clean, but build on it. It's still a reboot. People who have seen this movie know what I'm talking about with the alternate timeline kind of stuff. Heck, they even brought in Leonard Nimoy to legitimize the whole thing. That's even better. It is almost giving the film its own blessing to continue. It's something that Nimoy approved of. I mean, even if he didn't, it wouldn't make or break the film. But it does make it feel bigger than it could be. As much as I would prefer having Star Trek television, which I have and will soon have in spades, I am kind of disappointed that they stopped making these movies. This kind of leads to the fact that, despite the long history of Star Trek before this moment that leads into this film, this crew of the Enterprise is its own thing. I don't deny that it has its own challenges that come with that attitude. Bones, Spock, and to a lesser extent, Chekhov are all doing pretty solid jobs channeling their predecessors. Yeah, there's impressions happening. Anton Yelchin is entirely impression because he looks nothing like Walter Koenig / Davy Jones. But I have a really hard time rapping my head around Kirk and Uhura. Like, a really hard time. So I can take this two ways. I can gripe and whine. Kirk, after all, is the center of the classic Star Trek. Chris Pine could do a William Shatner impression. It would have been a poor decision. While there is a lot of evidence that Shatner Shatnered his role a lot, for the majority of the time he was actually pretty functional. But young Kirk was kind of cold. Watch The Original Series. He's not that emotional of a guy. As much as he gets a rep for being hot blooded and emotional, he's mostly in charge of his crew. He's business a lot of the time. The movies gave him that softer side. He became actually really funny in the films. A film starring cold and professional Kirk would kind of be a bummer. So Pine did his own thing. One thing that the film never fully lays out that Kirk's personality would be different given the death of George Kirk. He was raised by what seemed to be a jerk of a stepfather. (I mean, Greg Grunberg got his car stolen. I would be mad too.) He probably disliked Starfleet knowing that it took his father away. Young Jim Kirk in the original timeline was probably the son of a soldier. He grew up with protocol and structure. Having the Kelvinverse Jim Kirk as someone else makes a bit of sense. But the other choices don't. Uhura, as much as I adore Zoe Saldana, has no real reason to be acting differently. Her relationship with Spock doesn't rally tie into the timeline. Yeah, the show featured flirtation. But that's was more window dressing than actual relationship.
So I had a choice. I chose to accept that this was something different. This felt like a love letter written by someone who didn't love the characters, but simply wanted to make a fun film. I love this crew of the Enterprise. Their adventures seem really fun. From an experiment in tone, it gets what we should be getting. I read Abrams as a guy who never really loved Star Trek, but tries to love Star Trek. He doesn't want to destroy it. He just wants to make into something that he would watch. I kind of dig that in a weird way. I compare that Zack Snyder, whose Justice League cut terrifies me more and more that I read about it. Zack Snyder hates Superman. He thinks he's dumb. He made a set of films to remind everyone why Superman is way dumber than Batman. That's not what is happening with Star Trek. This is just someone who wants to be part of the club. I don't think that fandom should be as exclusive as it is. We have so much Star Trek out there that we can have different readings of it. Does the Tarantino film that will probably never happen make me nervous? Sure. But I like Quentin Tarantino and I like Star Trek, so I'll watch it. The same is true with Abrams. Abrams has given me a lot of fun entertainment. He did that again with Star Trek. Heck, he even raised the stakes for what a Star Trek movie could do. He destroyed Vulcan. The crew of the Enterprise lost one of their major planets on their watch. How nuts is that? Kirk doesn't always win because he's Kirk. I'm just realizing that Nero is using Kirk's Kobiyashi Maru scenario against him. He changed the rules. The Romulans kept losing to the Federation time and again, so he got to go back and change the parameters. He got to make a mining ship the most impressive weapon in the galaxy. It also gave this timeline some consequences. We can't depend on everything always working out for the best and I adore that some things might change. I know that the films following kept it pretty safe compared to the destruction of Vulcan, but I don't mind that a bit. (I really like Beyond and secretly kind of like Into Darkness, despite the fact that it's a trainwreck of a film.)
It's unfortunate that we needed something like 2009's Star Trek. In a perfect world, the franchise would have adapted better to small changes so it could grow. But sometimes, it needed a kick in the pants. Maybe, because of the Kelvinverse, we have the show back on the air in the form that it should be seen. Heck, it's probably in some fashion responsible for getting us a Picard TV show. (Although I mostly attribute that to Logan.) But I rewatched these movies with my kids and I had a blast of a time. Yeah, it was like eating candy. But it was really good candy, so I can't gripe that much. Also, put Kirk in a yellow uniform for more than two seconds, franchise. Also, Karl Urban can do no wrong in these films.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.