The movie should be titled Star Trek: Alternate Reality as right from the start it plays fast and loose with canon.
The movie opens with the sounds of a starship bridge; even before we can see the setting, we know where we are. And it finishes with the original theme music, while Leonard Nimoy recites “Space, the final frontier…” Both of these anchor the movie totally within TOS universe. But not all is as we expect.
Okay, so Kirk is the same self-righteous, obnoxious twat that he was in the series (that scene where Spock throws him off the Enterprise and he’s marooned on Gamma Delta, or Delta Gamma or whatever the hell they called it, and he’s being chased by the Hungry Red Monster? Yeah, I’m so cheering for the Monster) but this Kirk has a very different history. All nicely explained, of course, by the Romulans (plus Spock) altering the timelines and creating an alternate reality. In this reality Kirk’s father died the day he was born, and he’s gone from being the youngest Captain ever to command a starship, to probably the first person in the history of the space-time continuum to graduate from Cadet to Captain on the strength of ONE MISSION. One that he wasn’t supposed to be a part of anyway.
I don’t think Starfleet Command works that way….
As for Spock, I have two main words. Pon Farr.
I’m just sayin’.
Apart from the whole Uhura thing he was beautifully in character, and his arguments with Kirk and McCoy were TOS at its best. (Although in TOS Spock never got to evict Kirk from his ship.) A demonstration of the logic vs intuition as determinant for action that we often saw in the original.
I liked the way the actor had Spock’s characteristics down pat, from the way he straightened his tunic in the council chamber scene to the way he walks with the suggestion of a stoop at times.
Bones was one character who hadn’t changed a bit; still technophobic, and joining Starfleet after a divorce. Nice to see him true to his roots.
Scotty was a bit of a disappointment. I like Simon Pegg but never thought he’d play Scott as a sort-of mad professor. Should have expected it, really. In a nod to canon (fourth movie) Spock Prime gives Scott an equation for something that, in Spock Prime’s own timeline, Scotty had discovered. It reminded me of the incident in STIV when Scott himself gives the formula for transparent aluminium to Dr Nicholls.
Uhura, as usual, did very little other than be someone for Kirk to be interested in and for Spock to nuzzle (nuzzle? Did I just write that, in relation to Spock?) on the transporter platform. Tad unprofessional, that. In her favour, she did intercept and translate a coded Klingon message. I’d just like to see her used more in the actual story.
Chekov was a joy and a delight! His obvious near-genius went a long way to explain why a 17-year-old was on the bridge of a starship. I giggled as his attempts to have the computer recognise his speech, and his ability to get a lock on the falling Kirk and Sulu in order to transport them up speaks of an adolescence spent playing the future’s equivalent of Xbox games.
We got to see a bit of Sulu too. I loved Captain Pike’s droll comment “Is the parking brake still on?” when Sulu was unable to get the ship into warp drive!
Interesting that he tells Kirk his skill in hand-to-hand combat lay in fencing. We know from TOS that he can fence; in The Naked Time he demonstrates that skill admirably. But by the third movie he had marked martial arts skills as well (Don’t call me Tiny!) So, did he learn them on-the-job, or was he obfuscating to Kirk in this movie?
Spock’s parents, Amanda and Sarek: well we all know that Amanda, in canon, was still alive and kicking at the time of the movies, and it was fanon that eventually killed her off. So seeing her die in this movie was a bit of a shock. Sarek’s comment that he married her because it was logical was a nice little shout-out to TOS’ Journey To Babel, one of my favourite episodes. I did like his eventual admission that he married her for love, though. And Spock had to know that.
The glimpses of Vulcan were intriguing. The architecture brought to mind some sort of hive community; I’m sure this is one aspect that will be thoroughly explored in fanfic over the next few months.
I was moved by the scenes between Spock Prime and Alternate-Reality Spock, especially when S-P is talking about the friendship that AR-S will share with Kirk; "a friendship that will define you both" (? May not be exactly right).Could hear the slash fangirlies all over the planet sighing at that one.
ETA: and the whole Kobayashi Maru thing! How good was that! In ST:TWOK Spock tells how Kirk was the only person to ever go through the test with his ship intact, and only because he cheated by subverting the program that ran the test. He also says that he never took the test himself so in effect, TWOK was his Kobayashi Maru, his no-win situation. In this movie we learn the reason; he CREATED the Kobayashi Maru test!
How cool is that.
In conclusion: I’ll buy the DVD when it’s released, and not just to stick on the shelf but to watch and watch again, while waiting for the next instalment (for there surely must be such a thing) to be released.