J.J. Abrams has done the unforgivable: he has given movie-going audiences a young Captain James T. Kirk who is a complete and utter, irredeemable, douche-bag. Abrams' Captain Kirk is George W. Bush without the cowardice.
The film starts with an orgy of explosions and drama and people running around, pell-mell. If the swarthy Romulans antagonizing and attacking the peace-loving earth ship in the opening minutes doesn't arouse enough emotion, there rolls onto the screen a pregnant woman in labor who is being whisked to an escape pod (probably known on the ship as a "freedom pod"). The original captain of the ship has gone on a fool's errand to meet with the Romulans, to see if diplomacy might avert complete disaster. He leaves the ship in the hands of man named Kirk. As any good executive officer would do, Kirk has brought his explosively pregnant wife on the expedition with him -- or, better yet, made her explosively pregnant during the expedition. Gawddamn it! Is no one listening to Bristol Palin's pleas for abstinence?
Communication is established between the gurneyed, writhing mother-to-be and her husband, who has his hands full managing the attack of the Romulans and his wife's demands that he join her for the birth of their child. Of course. Because children are the hope of the future -- even if the Romulans are blowing the shit out of the ship. Kirk and Mrs. Kirk's banter might have been taken from the Hugh Grant/Julianne Moore film Nine Months, so rich it is in homey, North American cliche and insurance-advertisement-hope-for-the-future.
Alas, this Kirk goes down with his ship, but his wife and newly born son survive.
The audience is given its first loving glimpse of young ragamuffin James T. Kirk when Kirk is just a boy who has stolen a vintage automobile from a gnawing voice that harangues him over the in-car communication system (was it his uncle? Stepfather? Mom's live-in boyfriend?). Young Kirk must have played a shitload of Grand Theft Auto because he's another Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel. Pursued by a cop on a land speeder who addresses young, recalcitrant Kirk with the futuristic salutation "Citizen!", Kirk evades him and ends up driving the vintage car off a cliff. Unfortunately, Kirk dives out of the car in time to survive. After climbing up from the very precipice of the cliff, pre-pubescent Kirk looks at the hovering, robot cop and utters the 20th Century staple phrase, "Does there seem to be a problem, officer?"
Kirk grows into a morose, self-pitying alcoholic hick somewhere in Iowa, Earth. He wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. He drinks beer from the bottle and verbally harasses any and every piece of available ass in his local. If his verbal intercourse at the bar with the lovely, young Uhura is any indication of Kirk's proficiency with women, there's little doubt that he took a yellow-ribbon-winning hog to his high school prom; that he lost his virginity to a John Deere tractor. Clearly he's unused to speaking to anything that does not possess a V.I.N.
After harassing Uhura for her first name -- a running joke that comes back way too many times, though is mercifully dropped halfway through -- Kirk promptly proves his mental and spiritual prowess by getting into a fight with four Federation cadets who knew Uhura. Kirk gets his licks in, but is ultimately laid out, sprawled dramatically over a table. As luck would have it, the commanding officer who's come to call the cadets back to the ship happens to have known Kirk's father. He recognizes the young Kirk immediately and invites the young, beer-swilling Iowan to become a Federation cadet. Kirk dismisses this invitation by guzzling beer out of a tall, narrow science-fictiony tumbler.
But he goes. Presumably after a night with no sleep, and a morning with no hangover, Kirk shows up for the cadet ship with the same bloody shirt he'd been wearing when he got his ass kicked. When a guy near the cadet ship says, "Hey, great bike!" Kirk throws him the keys. "It's yours," our douche-bag hero says.
The film does veer into true science fiction when, at the Federation cadet academy, Abrams attempts to make Kirk-the-lout some sort of student. Don't worry, he's still a crass, bilge-brimming douche-bag, but Kirk's now found something he can direct all his chaotic energies into: cheating on a test.
There were groans aplenty emanating from the soul of this reviewer during a Friends-styled-Three's-Company-ripped-off scene in which horny Kirk attempts to lay a luscious green girl (who does not practice abstinence). Lascivious green girl's roommate returns to their room unexpectedly, and holy shit -- it's Uhura! Luckily, the green girl knows enough to have Kirk hide. The subterfuge lasts all of three seconds as Uhura discovers her roommate's coquettish game and finds underwear-clad Kirk in his clever hiding spot -- beside the bed.
We next find Kirk in a fully crewed flight simulation, which serves as a sort of final exam for the cadets. The simulation has Kirk's ship under attack. The very, very talent-impaired Chris Pine (please Jeeezus don't let him have Shia Labeouf's agent!) who plays Kirk does his high-school-drama-best to portray Kirk's arrogance and devil-may-care attitude with regard to the test. Fearing that his overt demonstration of chuckling, smirking casualness isn't enough, Kirk pulls out an apple and disinterestedly eats it as his crew shouts at him that they are in mortal danger. Kirk eats an apple. No kidding. An apple. He has it hidden beside himself in the jazzy captain's chair, and when he deems the moment is right, he pulls it out and takes a huge, messy chomp. Of his apple. A motherfucking apple! He has an apple! A fucking-fer-chrissakes apple!
As any good neo-con would do, Kirk ignores the advice of others and then takes the short way around (we later learn that he introduced some sort of computer "script" into the simulation that gave him an advantage), and easily beats the simulator. He and all other neo-cons know what none of the rest of us know: battle is little more difficult than eating an apple.
Spock -- the hardassed rules lawyer and creator of the simulation -- accuses Kirk of cheating. Kirk does not deny it. He is placed on academic suspension just as the Federation mobilizes all its cadets to help with some emergency. Thus, Kirk is excluded due to "the rules."
But Doctor McCoy doesn't give up that easily. During far-too-long, convoluted series of scenes, McCoy administers a space rufi to Kirk in order to sneak him aboard the ship. Apparently, Federation rules dictate that a doctor must stay with his patient, even to the detriment of an entire crew. So, if the doorman monitoring who enters the starship doesn't allow Kirk on, he would also be disallowing McCoy, the ship's doctor. Or, to put it more confusingly: if the doorman allows McCoy onboard, he automatically allows Kirk onboard, as well. Put in this impossible, untenable position, the doorman blinks and nods. Kirk is aboard the ship!
From there, we see a lot of people running around. We're introduced to the cute and cuddly Communist, Chekhov, who makes us laugh with his funny accent and endearing, foreign conscientiousness. We're introduced to Sulu who, essentially, forgets to take the "parking brake" off the Starship Enterprise, thus rendering it unable to get up to warp speed, at first -- or, whatever it is. And very late in the film, we meet Simon Pegg as Scotty. But roguish, comic-relief Scotty is not alone! No, he has a warty Ewok as his non-verbal sidekick. This bit of cinematic tinfoil hit my mental dental fillings with all of the miserable "Noooooooooooooooooooo!" as Jar Jar Binks hit me in The Phantom Excrement of 1999.
If any rational, steadily-being-disappointed filmgoer hadn't been put-off enough by all of this, there is the bizarre, left-field quiet, romantic moment in which Uhura kisses Spock in the ship's elevator just after Spock's home planet had been made into a blackhole and destroyed. Uhura is all into Spock. It must be the Ziggy Stardust eye shadow he uses. It's as though a snippet of the show Felicity had been jokingly spliced into Star Drek at that moment. But no, there are later hints at Uhura's hots for Spock. What's not to love about him? He has the emotional spectrum of a vending machine. He has a voice like Muzack. A haircut like Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. He looks soulful and lawyerly in blue pajamas. He probably has no usable sex organs.
Luckily, justice is served at the end of the movie and douche-bag Captain James T. Kirk is exalted and praised for his douche-baggery in the line of duty. He proves that one need not have any tangible experience or knowledge to be a Federation captain, only bravado, machismo and pores that emit Brut 33. No doubt, in the sequel to this prequel, Captain Kirk will address a graduating class of Federation cadets and tell them ". . . that even the C students can grow up to be captains!"
Star Drek is a work definitely geared toward the A.D.H.D.-gadget-distracted multitudes who require shock-and-awe from their filmmakers in place of . . . they just want shock-and-awe.
For me, it was shlock-and-ugh.
I am not the audience for such extravaganzas. Don't get me wrong, I love big, fun movies. The first three Indiana Jones films are among my all-time favorites. Even the first Harry Potter film was entirely enjoyable -- watching it amid a packed moviehouse.
Star Drek, however, in the money-numbed hands of J.J. Abrams, pained me. I was just a vegetarian in J.J. Abrams' steakhouse.