Over the weekend, PJ and I saw the new Star Trek movie starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Here are two of the trailers for the film:

As everyone knows by now, this movie is a reboot of the Star Trek franchise. After showing us a couple of scenes from their respective childhoods, it relates how James T. Kirk and Spock first meet (at the Star Fleet Academy) and quickly get on the wrong side of each other. A major crisis to Vulcan, however, ends up uniting the two as they square off against Nero, a rogue Romulan played by Eric Bana who is out to destroy every planet that is part of Star Fleet.

My overall impression was that Star Trek is an entertaining movie but no where close to being the “best movie I’ve seen in the past two years,” as a friend of a friend intimated. The highlight of the film for me was Zachary Quinto as Spock. First off, Quinto is totally hot. (I strongly object to AfterElton ranking him a mere 94 in their Hot 100 list. He definitely deserves to be in the top 2 or 3!) But more importantly, Quinto is excellent as Spock. He strikes just the right note of logical control over seething subterranean emotions. There’s a great moment when his relationship with another character is revealed to Kirk; Quinto is perfect in his rapid switch from passion to total nonchalance. He’s completely great in this role. I can’t to see (hopefully) future depictions of him going through pon farr, the Vulcan mating urge!

The rest of the supporting cast is also great. Zoe Saldana is great as Uhura. She plays this woman as a sexy, independent, strong, geek who knows what she wants and how to get it. Simon Pegg is one of my favorite British comic actors, so I was thrilled to see him play Scotty. He doesn’t get a lot to do in this movie, but whenever he’s on screen you know you’re in for some fun. John Cho plays Sulu. He too gets a great comic/action scene. And finally, Anton Yelchin is a very youthful Chekov. He looked familiar when he appeared on screen, but I couldn’t quite place him. I looked him up later and discovered that he had played the kid on Huff, a short-lived series on HBO. He’s more or less grown up now and is also very cute!

Of course the movie rides most heavily on Chris Pine’s shoulders. The franchise has always been about the captains. In a sense, this movie is the tale of how Kirk becomes the captain of the Enterprise. Pine is perfectly good as Kirk, but I thought that the movie made him a little too much of a horndog for his character to be entirely believable as a great captain. It’s one thing for him to be promiscuous but it’s quite another for him to be such a buffoon about it. As PJ kept saying afterwards, no one would ever make him captain of the most important ship in a fleet based on his personal behavior. I think the movie would have been better served to have shown more personal growth in his character.

The movie is an action-packed box of special effects eye candy, which I thought were great. It’s definitely a fast-paced action film, even if that means the plot suffered on occasion.

PJ objected to the film’s reliance on time travel, a staple of J.J. Abrams‘ work. He didn’t like that the movie’s plot messes with the future and creates an alternative time line. I didn’t mind so much, since it makes sense that the producers want to start a new franchise, one in which we don’t know what’s going to happen. If they kept to the original time line, they’d be severely limited in what they could do in future plots. Now they can do anything they want.

My main criticism of the movie is that there wasn’t any queerness in it. One of the big criticisms of the franchise as a whole has always been its inability to include gays in its utopian vision of the future. Apparently diversity still only means racial/national/species diversity and not sexuality. This movie did explore the question of male homosociality, i.e., Spock’s and Kirk’s friendship, but I was disappointed by its continuing homophobia of quiet exclusion. Maybe the next one will be better on this front. I hope so. I think it’s time that Star Trek really enter the 21st century, where gays can already marry in multiple states and the debate is no longer whether we should be terribly ashamed and closeted but about whether we should be truly equal or separate but equal.

In sum, this is a good action flick that could have been great.