MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. Also, capslock. Things may be out of order.
At the beginning of the film, the film-watching experience was interrupted by the projection being Wrong: I've never before seen a split-screen where the top is cut off and shown at the bottom instead, but it was instantly clear that All Was Not Well in the projection booth. There was a great outcry from the audience, and the first bits of Space OMG were obscured by first the outcry and then the assorted cheering when the projection was rectified. But. Space. And ZOMG WTF IS THAT SHIT. A rather large ship looked actually like something that might have been found in Babylon 5, and oh dear, when it fires on our Dear Enterprise it's not supposed to take the shields down like that. Hi, Nero. What's your major hate-on for Ambassador Spock? I thought this was a prequel? Either Spock has an early career as an ambassador, or you're Mr. Futureface.
I was eyeing Nice Mr. Captain, trying to decide whether he was supposed to be the New Kirk and I was just faceblind like woah (like I usually am) or if he was not. Oh, woops, no, he's addressing one of the Helpful Youngsters as "Mr. Kirk"; looks like that's the Kirk. And, woah, big-eyed alien lady! It's great to see Real Alien People scattered about in the ship; Starfleet is not just giving lip service to racial diversity in its crews. And while they're all extras, it's sure good to see them there. O hay there, pregnant lady. Did someone's space contraceptives fail? George? Who's George? Ohhh, this must not be James Kirk here; the baby who's about to pop must be James Kirk. So this is further back than I thought it was.
Cheesy or not cheesy, I was bawling like a little baby when George Kirk died. I am a sucker for True Love Stories, and somehow they managed to convey how absolutely in love with each other the couple was, and also how absolutely devoted a captain George Kirk was for his very short time there, in the space of a very few minutes. The fact that they could joke with each other, while making sure that they talked about the important stuff, says Relationship Done Right to me. They were clearly speaking their own language in their own world.
Before I could descend too far into maudlin, we hit up Iowa. Iowa! This must be Kirk! I thought gleefully, and when I saw the muscle car, I knew it. There was a muttering in the audience; was everyone else not aware that Kirk was from Iowa on the same visceral level that I was? Have I read too many Star Trek books? And then we get a look at the driver. OMG WEE JIMMY KIRK IS GOING TO BE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. Whole theatre dies laughing. Then the phone rings, with the default ring from some brand of phone or other, updated so it sounds a bit futurey. Another giggle, hi pop culture. Hi, Mr. Policeman. Hi, cliff. Hi, foreshadowing for MOST OF KIRK'S CAREER IN DANGLING OFF CLIFFS AND LEDGES. Hi, wee!Kirk's attitude toward authority.
Oh, look! Miniature Vulcans! In study pits, just like recovering!Spock from the time he died. Hi, wee!Spock! Hi, wee!Spock dealing with bullies! You are fierce and adorable, and our ovaries hurt now! And it's a Sarek! Faceblind or no, if I think someone looks more like John Kerry than Sarek, that may not have been the best choice for actor, but at least he can pull off the attitude right. Poor Spocklet. Sarek, Sarek, Sarek. IT IS MASTERY. MASTERY. (As book-canon-compliance goes, that was not actually too bad. I was seriously impressed, but I was hoping for a shout-out in the form of the actual word "mastery".) Oh! And now it's a teenage Spocklet! And that must be Amanda! HI, AMANDA, WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND WE'D LIKE YOU FOR A MOTHER-IN-LAW PLEASE. And! Oh, my. The board of the Vulcan Science Academy acting like racist fucks? Why, yes! Isn't it grand? And oh, Spock, Spock, Spock, excellent choice of a safety school, and oh, your career in sarcasm is only improving. ♥ (May I have one for my very own? Please?)
Iowa again! And now we're in a bar. Lovely young Black woman; is this Uhura? Chatting over some alien with Mr. Arrogance? Why, yes it is! Watch Miss Lunatic barely restrain herself from waving "hi" to old familiar characters being introduced! (I think I failed on that; I know I went grabbyhands at the Enterprise a few times.) And it's the Kirk charm, and Kirk is majorly striking out here. Oh, Kirk. :D I like that much, much better than Kirk always succeeding at getting the woman. And Uhura's sticking up for Kirk! Is he a stealth cadet? No, he's a local, and he's ... getting the shit pounded out of him. Oh dear. And ... HI, CAPTAIN PIKE!! ... Kirkie's not buying the blatant recruiting effort. Oh, but if we *dare* young Mr. Kirk to join, then we get some action.
And here we contrast the nice cornfields with ZOMG SPACEPORT. Hi, spaceport. Hi, shuttlecraft. CLANG. Hi, low-clearance beam. You, sir, clearly do not know this shuttlecraft like the back of your hand. Hi, grumbling fellow. Are you... yes! HI BONES! She gets the planet, heh. (How much for just the planet?) Figures that he'd be obsessing about disease and so forth, before he gets his hate on for the transporter. Oh! And it's Starfleet Academy! Hi, little shiny cadets! And oh, Kirk. Womanizing again/still, and OMG SHE IS GREEN HI ORION WOMAN YOU ARE LIBERATED AND NOT A SLAVE HI HI HI. Oh dear. Roommate problems. And ... wouldn't it just figure. Hi, Kirk! Bye, Kirk! Annnd... it's Kobayashi Maru time! Third time around! We know what's going to happen, don't w... omigod, Kirk, you little *shit*, you are eating an apple in the middle of the fucking killer simulation (and there needs to be an icon with a bitten-into apple and a "what no-win scenario?" type caption in TOS font, right?) ... and... there we go. AND SPOCK HAS PROGRAMMED IT. HI SPOCK, YOU ARE SEXY. And have some review board. Nice.
O hai! Emergency! Time to get all available cadets manning ships! And ... oh dear, no ship for Kirk. And Spock knows Uhura and doesn't assign her a plum place because he wants to avoid the appearance of favoritism, but she knows him well enough to stop that piece of backwards-logic right in its tracks. And not to fear for Kirk either! Bones is here to Manufacture An Emergency, in the form of slipping Kirk a mickey and dragging him onboard under protest. Oh, McCoy, how we love you. Kirk is nearly too sick to appreciate the view, but we get OMG STARSHIP PORN. Hi, Enterprise. Nice to see you and your lovely, lovely nacelles. But this film doesn't make The Motion Picture's mistake and dwell on those lovely curves too long; we get inside while we were still staring at the lovely, lovely ship. (I'm sure there will be an extended set of footage in the DVD special features.)
HI HIKARU REMEMBER TO TAKE IT OUT OF PARK. (Oh, young helm operators, how we love you.) And Chekov! HI PAVEL NICE TO MEET YOUR ACCENT AGAIN. And Kirk totally knows what is going on! Totally! Even though he is suffering from all the rare side effects in the book! And Uhura speaks all three dialects of Romulan, where the actual communications officer does not. Pwned! Let's have a swapout on the comms board! And Pike follows Kirk's advice, and SURE ENOUGH it is the SAME FUCKING TATTOO-FACED ROMULAN WHO GEORGE DIED TO TRY AND TAKE OUT. Hi there.
And now it's time for some ACTION! Let's see, of an away team of Kirk, Sulu (MARTIAL ARTS OH BOY), and SOME REDSHIRT, any bets what's going to become of them? They jump out of a perfectly good ship. Someone has parachute problems. Shit. Pike gets captured, tortured. Our boys work to shut down the beanstalk that is INEXPLICABLY BLASTING THE PLANET. And somewhere in there, WTF, no, seriously, what the FUCK, is "Red Matter"? It looks like a red lava lamp. It's sure red, all right. And there are Romulans on the beanstalk, and there is FIGHTING! Kirk dangles off the edge a bit. Sulu pulls out a FUCKING SWORD and SWORDS ROMULANS. HI THERE. Stuff is destroyed, Kirk and Sulu dive off and get beamed up by CHEKOV WHO CAN GET A LOCK ON ANYTHING at the very last second. And Nero redmatters the planet Vulcan. THE PLANET VULCAN. Time to evacuate! Spock beams down and pulls his parents and RUNS. And ... Amanda falls. And Chekov? No lock. No lock. THEY KILLED AMANDA. THEY KILLED AMANDA. REPEAT: AMANDA. AMANDA GRAYSON. OUR AMANDA. This is a little overshadowed by the fact that Vulcan, the WHOLE DAMN PLANET, has been just sucked into a BLACK HOLE. Bye, planet Vulcan; it was nice to know you. Next planet on the destruction list? EARTH.
Spock is in no fit shape for anything, and is ambushed by Uhura in the lift, where one of the most awkward hurt/comfort scenes I've been witness to plays out. Um. You're good friends and all, but he's a Vulcan; he's probably not interested.
Spock is left in command. Spock wants to regroup with Starfleet. Kirk has other ideas. Spock thinks Kirk's on crack, and WHO'S THAT LOUNGING IN MY CHAIR? (Who's that casting devious stares in my direction?) GTFO, HUMAN-BOY. And no, Kirk's on *crack*. ROUND ONE, FIGHT. Cue some Spock/McCoy verbal fencing. Cue Kirk getting subdued by security, brawling with security, brawling with Spock, and getting taken out by a neck-pinch, stuffed in a bod-pod, and launched onto the nearest semi-deserted planet.
Kirk comes to on
Out they beam. And Funny Transporter Accidents in three, two, one: let's see who gets to tour the inside of a starship The Fun Way! Fortunately, Kirk finds and activates the emergency hatch, and now we've got a very wet Mr. Scott spitting out water and ... Intruder alert! ... getting hauled up to the bridge by some unamused security guy, possibly the same cadet that Kirk got in a barfight with three years ago as a civilian. Kirk, well-armed by old!Spock with the right buttons to push, has a merry old time getting Spock to display emotion. Woah, there, Spock! THAT IS NOT MASTERY! Before he actually, you know, kills Kirk, he realizes what just happened, chills out, backs down, and certifies himself unfit for command citing chapter and verse.
Kirk takes them to Earth to face down Captain
What's this in the transporter room? Uhura kissing Spock?! And ... Spock is kissing back?! Did someone honestly put LSD in my coke? And despite three years at the Academy together, Kirk still doesn't know her first name. :D (Also, Kirk and Spock? HOT ITEM THERE.)
Note: when the transporter operator says that there's not going to be anyone in sight? Ahahahaha. Romulans! Blasters! Improbable interior ship architecture featuring Many Things To Fall Off Of and no safety rails in sight! A Captain Pike in need of rescuing! Backstory in need of articulating! Ambassador Spock's Weird Ship, now in young!Spock's hands! Sentimental last messages cut off by Kirk being an arrogant ass and not wanting to convey Spock's mash notes to Uhura! (Christine Chapel, eat your heart out.) Action! Adventure! Red Matter! Transporter hijinks!
Ship is mashed, check. Ship is mashed into black hole, check. Kirk offers rescue to Captain
Earth pulls itself back together. Spock is part of an endangered species! Spock should really Be Noble And Go Off And Continue The Species, but is really more into Kirk. He has a heart-to-heart with his older, AU self, and the universe does not explode, although the audience sort of does, because it is All So Very Meta, and the subtext has reached palpable levels. Several women faint. Kirk gets the Enterprise. Pike gets his wheelchair. Spock agrees to serve under Kirk. The starship starts to fly away, and the whole audience whispers along with old!Spock and tries not to cry too visibly:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise, and its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations: to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes. Do I want to watch it again and again and again? Oh, yes.