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Star Trek: Kirk vs Pike

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Mark Kermode | 12:45 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

Given the increasingly likely probability that you have just arrived from an alternative suburb of the multiverse here's a heads up: the venerable Star Trek franchise has returned with a head-spinning vigour that is the movie equivalent of an injection of monkey hormones. Replacing William Shatner as the arrogant, dynamic, heroic Captain Kirk is young Chris Pine, yet hanging over this film is another possible universe where another man is the true captain of the Starship Enterprise...

Clips courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Hi. I saw the movie yesterday and really enjoyed it! Having been a Trek fan for many years this is what the franchise needed. A complete fresh start. Much, much better than last weeks Wolverine!!!!

    Mr Kermode, keep up the good work. I don't always agree with your opinions (I like Michael Bays loud Transformers - i'm sorry) but you introduce me to films that i wouldn't normally think of seeing. Now i'm off to browse the David Lynch dvd collection.

  • Comment number 2.

    I totally agree about Common People. Shatner's version on his album 'Has Been' is so much better than Pulps, actually come to think about it, that album is bad-ass.

  • Comment number 3.

    Robert Wise had one hell of a career though Dr. K. Elbow The Sound of Music. I'm talking the likes of The Sand Pebbles, The Body Snatcher and Somebody Up There Likes Me. Not a fan of the Trek so can't comment on the first film.

  • Comment number 4.

    I might give Trek a look sometime.
    I never liked any of the shows, but it still hasn't had a negative review yet.
    I still think Star Wars is the most overhyped film and franchise ever.
    The Alien and Planet of the Apes franchises are the best.
    I still think they could make one more Alien film.

  • Comment number 5.

    You're somewhat overlooking the fact that the film is actually utterly moronic and vacuous. When Abrams said, this is not your Dad's Star Trek I didn't think he meant that it was my ritalin-addled, slightly retarded little brothers. I think Shakespeare reviewed it the best 'A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'

  • Comment number 6.

  • Comment number 7.

    Content of above video

    2% review of the film
    98% extraneous waffle

    Waste - and if you will - of time

  • Comment number 8.

    That Onion video is very funny. They're good over there. Doesn't excuse simply bad film-making though. The new Trek film is very badly written and shot like an episode of a flashy tv show; all close ups and handheld cameras.

  • Comment number 9.

    Whilst one will agree, Dr K, that the idea of Star Trek V-era Shatner climbing El Capitan is about as realistic as Chris Moyles climbing Kilimanjaro (Umm... Something's gone wrong with my point here...), there is still a warm, unifying strength - the idea of someone able to bring cultures together - with Shatner's performance that Chris Pine simply doesn't have

    Yes, it is fair to say the young-and-attractive choice of JJ Abrams' crew is indeed the right one for such a visceral and pacey style of film-making as the new movie is. However, this still doesn't get past the fact that the idea of Pine's Kirk bringing people/species/universes together gets more and more ridiculous the longer you ponder the film

    NB: Two extra points to pick up on this week
    i) Claiming Shatner's version of the greatest single of the Britpop era, if not UK music in the 90s, is a borderline shambolic claim (and no love of skiffle will ever change that)
    ii) Finally, since following yourself, you come to Scotland for me to see you and it's sold out before I've even checked! I fear you'll have to be coming to Glasgow instead of Edinburgh sometime soon

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Dr K

    Watched Star Trek on Thursday and enjoyed it. A good space romp. The idea of creating a new timeline where Star Trek V wouldn't have happened is a stroke of genius.

    However, I think you're being a bit hard on the old crew, especially Kirk. Remember that the original pilot failed because the US audience didn't want a drama set in space with a captain moaning about being tired of his responsibilities for the lives of his crew. The initial success of Star Trek came with the introduction of the likes of the pirate Captain Kirk and his heroic, arrogant, womanising ways.

    Regarding the films, in my opinion they have all been, with the exception of 'The Slow Motion Picture' and 'The Final Frontier', good space action movies, and central to all of them has been the strength in the characters and their relationships with each other. This is particularly strong in, what I consider to be, their best two films. In the 'Wrath of Khan", the one where William Shatner does some acting, Kirk is not only fighting Khan but also deals with getting old, his career and the loss of a friend; whilst Cpt. Picard has to confront and get over his Borg issues in 'First Contact'.

    Assuming that this new release will be a series of new Start Trek films, I hope the exploration of the characters will continue to be just as important as the exploration of space; including the development of Scotty's accent.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well thats like kermodes reviews - 1% review, 99% self aggrandizing waffle.

    But as for generations it wasn't Shatners fault that Kirk died (well he could have said no to the role of course, but apart from that) it was that twit Berman who was busy killing the "franchise"

    And its nonsense to say people didn't know the difference between reality and movies, its a psychological phenomenon called caring about something - guess DrK never heard of that.

    This film is full of out right sloppiness (apparently the writers don't know the difference between a solar system and a galaxy) its also not true to the humanistic core of 'real(tm) trek - its mostly shooting things and blowing stuff up.

    Roddenberry used to complain that the studio only wanted to see spacebattles, but that this wasn't what Star Trek was about.

    Of course the point of this film was to get rid of the old baggage (old fans) and pick up some shiny new luggage (new and younger fans!)
    I'm sure it'll manage that.

  • Comment number 12.

    I've yet to see this, although despite having no interest in Star Trek in general I am intrigued. However, am I the only one who's sick of 'rebooted' franchises? The last decade, or more even, seems to have been largely characterized by remakes, sequels, and 'reboots'. The only good thing to come out of it so far is the new Batman films, although even those I think are slightly over-hyped. It's just getting a bit boring now. It feels like, just like in this new Star Trek film, we've been made to go back in time and repeat history, albeit a re-written and 'rebooted' version.

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh dear - why allow a tedious rant about Shatner to take up half your review when he wasn't even IN the film

  • Comment number 14.

    Actually, this is what I like most about Mark's reviews. You get some personal opinion, and some inspiration to check out the old series. Yes, I know most of this stuff, but that's because I'm a *massive* Trekkie. All I need is the Borg Outfit, and it's all over.

    I completely agree that Christopher Pike would be an awesome captain. "I dare you to do better."... Honestly? Still a little tingly.

  • Comment number 15.

    In-My-Not-Remotely-Humble-Opinion, what this film does better than any of the last 20-odd years of Trek is get the strong crew relationships right. There really aren't any TNG relationships as strong as the original Kirk/Spock/Bones relationship (although DS9 got very close with Bashir and O'Brien). TNG is my favourite series, but many of its better episodes dealt with a single member of the cast acting apart from the crew.
    The only TNG crew relationship that really had emotional weight was Geordie and Data, and that was actually played down for a long time.
    Contrast that with more modern sci-fi like Firefly or Stargate, where the relationships between regular cast members are often the strongest part of the series. Again, all of that is in the Original Series. Look at "Amok Time", for example:

    What TNG, and to a lesser extent Voyager, did best, and what this film lacks, were big concepts. "What if an alien race could only communicate in terms of historical references? Could a race become a hive mind, and begin to expand like a computer virus? Would geeks become as obsessive about holodeck programmes as they are about computer games or TV shows? If a trickster god became human, how would he handle it? And What IS the Measure of A Man?" And there's no argument that that "big concept" thinking was directly inspired by episodes of the Original Trek like "City on the Edge of Forever".
    That kind of big-concept writing translates very poorly to film. It's best served by books, where you can set your own pace, re-read important explanatory dialogue, and the visuals are only limited by your own imagination. Radio and TV can do it, but they still often have to include action sequences, B-plots and charming characters to keep people paying attention. Stretch that for TWO HOURS of board-room discussion, and nobody's that charming. Not even His Shatnership.

    There's a reason why "Wrath of Khan", "Voyage Home" and "First Contact", which steer away from the big concept and towards the raw emotion (revenge, humour and fear respectively) are the significantly better films. And that's what this film does better than any of them.

  • Comment number 16.

    Generally I have found JJ Abrams' work to be well summed up by fortunesfool73's quotation from the Bard above (and I confess to having watched every episode of Alias - in my defence it was quiet year!)

    He certainly knows how to do entertaining, but he hasn't got the faintest idea about depth of meaning or archetypal resonance. He seems to confuse being complicated with being profound, and hopes everyone will miss the gaping plot holes.

    Still D+Star Trek's had uniformly positive reviews, so I'm looking forward to getting to see it.

    Let's see if we can get Joss Wheedon on the Pike project if they do pull the rug out from under Dollhouse. There's a guy who understands storytelling and relationship - if not how to find a TV channel that will let him finish a series!

  • Comment number 17.

    saw it last night,
    it was excellent, best blockbuster since the dark knight

    jj abrams has done a fantastic job, dusting off all the mustiness associated with the series, to reveal a bright, futuristic, day glow, sc-fi adventure.

    it is a welcomed approach, which brings relief from the stream of "dark" and "serious" appraoches to summer blockbusters.

    jj abrams succeeds in every way george lucas spectacularly failed with his star wards prequels

  • Comment number 18.

    Yeah I watched it last night as well.

    I thought it was really good and I can't stand Star Trek normally.

    I still think other franchises are better though,like Batman and James Bond.

  • Comment number 19.

    For someone who doesn't like "back story", your radio review of Star Trek on Friday included a whole lot of back story about all the previous attempts to make a movie version of the TV series before you got on with it. But this new version of Star Trek seemed to be at virtually all back story and you didn't seem to have a problem with that. I mean, how much of the movie actually had Captain Kirk at the helm of the USS Enterprise? (Very little). In the original series we used to be plunged into some cosmic crisis within minutes of the opening sequence which would develop into impending catastrophe only to be resolved after much scenery shaking just in time for some Kirk/McCoy versus Spock inter-species quipping on the bridge and the credits. But here it's about 15 minutes before even the title of the film comes up and Simon Pegg doesn't get to give us both barrels of his Scotty for another hour.

    Is it just me or is this film stuffed with references to other films? I don't think you would want that in a space fiction film that is at least semi-serious and doesn't include Leslie Nielson.

    We have Kirk's birth and being sent to safety by his Dad like Marlon Brando in Superman. Then there's boy-racer Kirk tearing Skywalker-style across the same landscape that Cary Grant dodged a crop duster in North by Northwest before escaping
    a Thelma and Louise fate in the style of Indiana Jones and holding
    on to the edge of a precipice like Stallone only to be apprehended by Judge Dredd or is it Robocop? Then it's a James Dean incarnation or maybe the young George Bush in "W" until he meets and fails to impress Uhura in a "Top Gun" kind of way in a Star Wars bar missing just a few extras. Then we have the old two-people-one
    -parachute scenario (brilliantly staged in Moonraker). Apparently we still need
    parachutes in the 23rd Century (none of that space boots, jet-pack nonsense). But haven't I seen the two-people-one-parachute scene more recently in "Harold and
    Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"? So surely not a coincidence, then, that it is Sulu who gets to enact it. Is JJ Abrams having a laugh? And anyway, how could you watch a going back in time to change the future theme without ever thinking about Marty McFly and Doc Brown?

    I think you have been very kind towards this film. Very kind, indeed.
    I hope you will be as open-minded and generous with your review of "Angels and Demons" as you were were with this film, but I'm not holding my breath. I envisage your film reviewer's pencil is already sharpened to an extreme point.

    Live long and prosper, Dr. K

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.


    Did you enter this blog from the future through a wormhole?

  • Comment number 22.

    Sorry to hear that you didn't like Robert Wise's TMP, Mark. Too taxing on your brain? Your opinion of TFF is obviously spot on though. If you want more Captain Pike, read the novel 'Burning Dreams' and the novella 'Captain's Table #6'.

  • Comment number 23.

    I just watched Star Trek and that it was really weak. I watched it partly because you said it was okay so really it's your fault Kermode :) Here's why I didn't like it (spoiler alert)

    1. The jumps through history to the point where they get on the Enterprise where too brief and silly.

    2. How come cadets can be in the Acadamy one minute and then in charge of Starfleet's best ship the next.

    3. Why did the Romulans leave Spock on the planet to watch his planet instead of keeping him on the ship.

    4. Why did they kill off the Vulcans, I liked the Vulcans, they had a rich history :)

    5. Why invalidate the entire history of the Star Trek universe with a stupid plot device because they couldn't come up with a new crew.

    I could go on but I've bored myself. It was rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, if you're reading this, don't go and see it. The plot's full of holes, Kirk has a weird face and isn't suave enough. The rest of the younger versions are well cast actually, although I wasn't sure about the Uhura romance. I thought it was trash and I'm not even a real trekkie...I agree, maybe even a whole film with captain Pike and more backstory would have been better instead of this rush to set up the new series and having them all sitting at the right consoles by the end, entire history we've all been watching for forty years thrown in the dustbin. Garbage..

  • Comment number 24.

    Sorry, terrible spelling errors in my last post. I wish they'd let you edit it...Once again I undermine my argument with bad writing...

  • Comment number 25.

    Opening myself up to some harsh criticism here, but am I the only person who thought the sound track to the movie was really bad? With a Trek film you expect a pretty over the top sound track, and with this movie rewinding the series back to the beginning, it was no surprise that they'd gone for the more floaty original stuff... but I really thought at moments it jarred and brought me out of the movie and in the places where it wanted (and was pleading) for impact, it was left lacking and had no force behind it.
    On the whole though, thought the film was good. Especially loved bones.
    And hats off to you Kermode for being only the third man (including myself) to have watched Nymphoid barbarian from a dinosaur hell, and to have survived. two hours of my life lost into the void of things that should never have been.

  • Comment number 26.

    Although I agree that Star Trek was thoroughly entertaining but will you now be willing to admit that you were wrong about the old Star Wars films because lets be honest the reason the new Trek film is so good is because it cherry picks the best scenes from Star Wars. Space battles? Check. Orphaned farm boy? Check. Fighting monsters on an ice planet? Check. Hell the bar scene is only a couple of aliens away from being an exact copy of the cantina scene in Star Wars

  • Comment number 27.

    Saw it yesterday night at my local IMAX. Enjoyed it. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

    I love the work of Dr. Kermode. Really, I do. But I'm rather annoyed about how much of the film's plot he revealed in his radio review (I'll address him in the third person, because I'm not going to flatter myself that he'll read this...).

    I'm referring principally to a key thread of the story [SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO SEE IT...], that being almost the entirety of Star Trek lore being erased from *within* the plot, thereby respectfully presenting a blank canvas for the franchise moving forward. When I heard this in the review, I figured it would be revealed during the first ten minutes of the film, and that therefore it was no big deal for me to know it upfront. But no - it was unfolding gradually for three quarters of the movie. While those around me were wondering what this massive Romulan mining vessel was doing oafing around the universe, I pretty much knew already.

    And another bloody thing!!! The moment when [ANOTHER SPOILER...] Leonard Nimoy turns around in that icy cavern - there was a sharp intake of breath from several people in the auditorium... but not from *me*, because Dr. Kermode had *told* me that 'Old Spock' was in it!!! That would've been such a beautiful moment, too...


    And I'm not interested in anyone telling me, "oh, *everyone* knows that's what happens..." - I don't care whether other people, who've been trawling the internet deliberately looking for spoilers, knew these things months ago (you're idiots, by the way). *I* didn't, and it would've been nice to exprience the story *without* impacting knowledge that I didn't want revealing to me.

    I don't ever want to feel like I can't listen to Dr. Kermode's reviews, just in case he semi-ruins a movie that I want to watch. But if this happens again...?

  • Comment number 28.

    It's A Nymphoid Barbarian IN Dinosaur Hell, and I've got it on DVD. New Star Trek was better than the last couple of films (which stunk) but I still didn't like it, just way too much incredibly bad science and daft plot contrivances.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I think the idea and execution of rewriting the franchise in the film was a stroke of genius. The film was very well cast (especially impressed by Mr Pegg's Scots accent) but I found Spock to be a little off somehow, fantastic performance but for some reason I couldn't help but keep thinking "that isn't Spock".

    My final piece of joy in the film was an insight into how Kirk operates... it isn't that he is hard or tough or anything like that... he is simply lucky, very very very lucky. Which works (and could possibly explain why he manages to command a starship straight after being nearly kicked out of the Academy for cheating)


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