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At 5:55 pm on Saturday afternoon, Chris Pine did another of his mid-air, hands on transporter rescues and delivers Star Trek the way JJ Abrams has envisioned. The moment also showered pride on Gene Roddenberry’s memory and the manner in which Star Trek cast camaraderie is meant to be. “Let's not do that again,” this generation's James T deadpanned. Unfortunately, the movie began at 4:30. Two or three years between installments, what a poor use of such valuable time.
So boldly going for 90 minutes meant that the Captain of the Enterprise was in search of himself and uncharacteristically brooded his life choices before us. Out in the alpha quadrant for over 900 days, Kirk can’t help question the vastness of space in between intermittent episodes of diplomacy and overseeing the domestic travails of 400 crewmen and women.
As we've seen in previews, “My father joined Starfleet because he believed in it. I joined on a dare,” laments the gruff but lovable icon to Dr. McKoy.
In short, Jim Kirk is bored. Certainly a dose of reality is an interesting juxtaposition when taking into the unlikely account of meeting a green girl or life menacing alien race every week. But we pay for Kirk’s dour disposition, and his introspection over whether he wants to continue taking the con.
Spock also finds himself at a crossroads with his namesake's death and a resulting pull to be part of sparking the genesis of New Vulcan. Of course being at odds with himself isn't really a departure, and we are not made to suffer so in this regard.
Dire Circumstance Doesn’t Change Disposition
Nonetheless, both decide to keep their angst to themselves and allay it until completing a nearby rescue mission that seems pretty routine. As expected, things quickly go awry, and our villain really does a number on the ole NCC. Krall (Idris Elba) sends enough of the crew to the vast reaches of space, and leaves the core of the Enterprise scattering to the surface yet again. Kirk is certainly not amused. He also doesn't seem to notice that the monotony has lifted.
So instead of imploring Spock that “it will work” or “it will fit,” Kirk doesn’t deliver the pessimistic optimism that had the starship and his novice crew flying at the seat of its pants. Spock, Bones and Scotty still try to bring up the rear of the Star Trek cast, but without Kirk leading the way, their efforts fall a little flat.
The dramatic events that have the crew flung far suffers the same fate. It's also frustrating to have no sense of why Krall is acting out and wreaking so much havoc. He’s just a dick being a dick until his backstory is revealed at the end.
And the Adventure Continues…
But alas, when Kirk rescues Sophia Boutella, who is a welcome heroine to our universe as Jaylah, James Tiberius suddenly finds purpose, and you finally get your JJ Abrams on. The on the job training in deep space is reengaged, and the Star Trek humor that the current generation has crafted with respect to the original, goes into full reboot mode.
Finally able to settle into my seat, Kirk makes good use of his, and even Harve Bennett (to the dismay of Khan) would tip his cap to the tactical outmaneuver employed to save the day. We also get to ponder the parallels between Kirk and Krall for good science fiction movie measure, and Spock looks back to go beyond.
Too bad Star Trek 3 a la Abrams took so long to start. I hope we don't make the same mistake again. Our Star Trek time is too precious, and we ain’t getting any younger.