By Scott Tibbs, June 12, 2013
I went and saw the new Star Trek movie on opening weekend, and I wore my red shirt. (Yes, I am a nerd.) It is an excellent (if imperfect) movie, and I would recommend it to any Star Trek fan or science fiction fan in general. While I normally hate reboots, establishing this as an alternate universe was a good move as it keeps the existing timeline intact. It also gives Kirk and company an opportunity to interact with some of the races that were not created until decades after the original series, such as the Cardassians, the Borg and my favorite, the Ferengi.
This will not be a full review, just a couple observations.
First, bringing back the old style "flip" communicators was a bad decision that strains the suspension of disbelief. We have smartphones today that can browse the web, support video chat, send electronic mail and do a wide variety of other things. The voice-only communicators are several steps behind my basic cell phone that is a half-dozen years old. This is supposed to be a futuristic, science fiction setting where technology is 250 years ahead of where we are today, yet the "cell phones" of the future are nowhere near as advanced as an iPhone?
Second, the way the Prime Directive is handled makes the Federation look completely and totally evil. Spock sets off a cold fusion device in the middle of a volcano that will wipe out all life on the planet if it erupts, and manages to prevent the eruption. Kirk is reprimanded and demoted for revealing the Enterprise and saving Spock because it is impossible to beam him out.
It makes sense that Kirk would be expected to allow Spock to die, but reprimanding Kirk for stopping the eruption makes no sense. Is the Federation's devotion so complete that they will allow hundreds of millions (if not billions) of sentient beings to be annihilated by a planet-destroying volcano? Does the principle of non-intervention with less advanced species include standing by silently and watching a global extermination event happen and not doing anything to stop it, despite having the technology to save those lives?
The principle of non-intervention makes sense, but taking it to that extreme is evil. It makes no sense that nobody would call out the federation on this evil philosophy. It would have been more realistic for Kirk to resign his commission in Starfleet rather than go along with this evil policy, and have a serious debate about the limits of the Prime Directive. Simply casting Kirk as reckless and insubordinate is lazy, sloppy writing that could have been much better.