Like a girdle-encased middle-aged gut topped by a ridiculous toupee kicking you in the face, JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" delivers the goods in spectacular, satisfying fashion.
The Good: The casting, the action, the acting, the spirit, the fun, and the special effects all come through with flying colors. The Holy Trinity -- Kirk, Spock, and McCoy -- in particular deliver performances that are truly inspired by (rather than a copy of) the original cast.
The Bad: The story is more full of holes than a Caddyshack golf course. Luckily it's enough fun that you don't really care.
The Ugly: Eric Bana's bland, utterly forgettable role as bad guy Nero.
More to follow after the jump (spoilers abound!).
First, let's be clear here -- this movie is an action/adventure, not a science-fiction flick with aspirations of Deepness like the very first "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". I mean, look at that subtitle, it practically screams "Take me seriously!" JJ Abrams has no such pretensions, just as his movie has no such sub-title. This is just pure "Star Trek" -- a bunch of cowboys flying around the universe kicking ass. People nowadays make a lot of noise about the "Prime Directive" and how progressive and noble the unity the Federation showed was, but that's horse puckey. "Star Trek" was first and foremost a Western, a morality play of Good Guys versus Bad Guys, with liberal amounts of womanizing and ass-kicking. It just happened to be set in outer space.
Which is exactly what we get in this latest movie installment.
I was reminded of nothing so much as "Raiders of the Lost Ark", a movie that jumps right into heart-pounding action and rarely slows down. This is pure, unadulterated fun from start to finish, a big old-fashioned Saturday afternoon serial featuring big fights, big explosions, big characters, and big fun. Go into it with that understanding and you won't be disappointed, whether you're the guy in the Spock ears at your local convention or someone who thinks William Shatner is just that guy from the Priceline commercials.
Now, having said that, the story is utterly ridiculous on several levels. Time travel always irritates me, and I'm only giving Abrams a pass because he outright admits as much right in the movie, with Kirk calling it "cheating". I get that the writers have done this so they have a clean slate with the very vocal Trek fans who are going to make up the bulk of their die-hard support, but when I'm in a movie I don't want to be thinking about "meta" issues at all. I don't want to ponder how "the franchise" is going to develop, I don't want to worry about fanboi reaction, I don't want to worry about clearing the slate from what went before. I just want to set my phasers to kill and be about my business.
Like I said, I understand WHY he had to do it, I just don't think it was necessary. We didn't have to have a time-traveling Daniel Craig clearing the decks for a "new" Bond, we just were thrown right into the action and we don't worry about what went before. I wish Abrams had done the same here.
Second, you can't time travel through a black hole. The tidal forces would rip you apart long before the overwhelming gravity crushed you into sub-microscopic dust. That's just stupid. And if you WERE going to get sucked through a black hole into another time, why does it take twenty five years between one delivery and the next? And if it's going to take twenty five years between one delivery and the next, why would it come out at the same point in space? And if you're a guy waiting around to take revenge on a whole galaxy and find yourself armed with technology 125 years more advanced than the fledgling Federation around you, why do you park your ass in space doing absolutely nothing for a quarter of a century? Have they never heard of a remote probe parked in orbit waiting for your target while you go off and find some green-skinned chicks to pass the time with?
Third, if such a thing as "red matter" existed, and could be transported in a one-man ship, and it could literally annihilate any star or any planet with the push of a button, I'd say you've got some pretty damn serious problems. Remember how "Genesis" almost started a war for exactly that reason? And it couldn't even affect suns!
Fourth, if Romulus' sun was about to go nova, sucking it into a black hole wouldn't have done jack squat to save Romulus. Last I checked, suns were kind of important to planets in terms of, you know, actually supporting life there. "Congratulations, sir, we saved your planet from supernova death by destroying your sun! Hey, good luck growing plants and supporting weather without one, gotta run, ta!"
But look, like I said, the movie is fun enough that you don't really worry about all that while you're watching it. It's all just an excuse to get the crew together so they can fly around kicking ass without regard for the laws of physics, logic, law, or anything else but Kirk's overwhelming libido. Which is just fine with me!