The latest Star Trek movie isn’t bad, even if you’re not a Trekkie, you’ll find enough action to keep you interested. Of course, no movie is perfect and Star Trek has a few holes that could have made the movie even better.
In the first 15 minute segment of any movie, we learn about the hero, his motivation, and his goal. In the case of Star Trek, this segment focuses solely on James Kirk’s birth as he and his mother escape from a doomed starship. This segment is non-stop action, which compensates for the lack of a deeper plot. Without giving the story away, Star Trek is about a murderous villain (Romulan) who’s the classic bad guy with no redeeming features whatsoever.
The second 15 minute segment reveals all our favorite Star Trek characters in their early years, mainly focusing on the dual characters of Spock and Kirk. Strangely, Kirk is revealed as a daredevil racing an ancient convertible down the road and then inexplicably driving it over the edge of a cliff that resembles the Grand Canyon. Of course, this is in Iowa, so the sudden emergence of this massive canyon seems a bit out of place.
More importantly, in learning that Kirk is a daredevil who can handle himself, this second segment is rather dull since there is little suspense. Kirk simply speeds down a dirt road and then drives the car into a canyon. Even with a police man chasing him, there’s no goal for Kirk to pursue. Instead of drag racing someone else, he’s simply speeding for no reason, which hurts the movie.
This second segment ends when Kirk decides to enlist in Star Fleet and Spock decides to turn away from his Vulcan school to enlist in Star Fleet as well. Spock’s motivation, being half human and half Vulcan, is far more defined than Kirk. All we see of Kirk is a daredevil, but we don’t know what he wants. We just know he’s confident and that’s it. If we could have learned what Kirk wants, then the movie could have been stronger.
The third 15 minute segment shows us Kirk, Spock, and the other characters going through Star Fleet. This third segment is where everything seems to be going well for the hero in a new world.
The fourth 15 minute segment is where Star Fleet is sent out to investigate a cry for help from Vulcan. Kirk is denied to the Enterprise until Bones sneaks him aboard. Kirk has achieved a False Victory getting on board, but like all False Victories, it’s not enough.
The fifth 15 minute segment is the beginning of the villain taking control and the hero reacting. This is where they first battle the Romulan ship, the Enterprise’s captain is taken hostage, and we learn what the villain wants to do (wipe out all the planets). Kirk and Sulu land on a drilling rig, although their purpose for doing so is hazy. Then to provide a convenient battle, two Romulans pop out of a hatch and they engage in hand to hand combat for greater tension.
Battling these two Romulans looks exciting, but it’s simply action for the sake of action. Kirk and Sulu ultimately fail in their mission and wind up back on the Enterprise. Spock tries to save his parents, but loses his mother. Usually the sixth 15 minute segment is where someone dies, which somewhat tilts the dynamics of the story.
The sixth 15 minute segment is where things fall apart completely for the hero. Spock banishes Kirk to an icy planet where he’s chased by creatures for the sake of creating action. After more meaningless action, Kirk is miraculously saved in a plot point that’s too convenient. After Kirk runs into Scotty, the two of them wind up back on the Enterprise. Kirk succeeds in taking over the ship as captain.
The seventh 15 minute occurs when Kirk and Spock get beamed aboard the Romulan ship and fight it out in the cargo bay. The Romulans are simply portrayed as totally evil bad guys, which makes them a bit simplistic as villains, hurting the story a bit in the process. After defeating the Romulans in the cargo bay, Spock takes off in a ship while Kirk frees the original Enterprise captain.
In the eighth 15 minute segment, Spock blows apart the Romulan’s plan to destroy the Earth while Kirk and the Enterprise battle the villain (Nero).
While not a bad story, Star Trek suffers from action for the sake of action and lack of clear motivation for the villain and Kirk. It relies on familiarity of the characters to overcome its flaws.
While Star Trek isn’t a bad movie, it’s not a great one either. However, it’s still miles beyond the first two Star Wars prequels that George Lucas dumped on us. The reliance on action for sheer action and lack of motivation for Kirk and the villain Nero undermines the story. Still, Star Trek generally follows the 15 Minute Movie Method of separate segments that make up the whole. Star Trek is worth seeing as a story to see what it does right and what it does wrong.