My problems with AOS
Well here I am, 10 years late with an opinion no one asked for, but I have to write this down and throw into the void so that I can be at peace. I’ve been salty about this film franchise for a very long time now. This will mostly focus on Star Trek (2009) with the other two movies sprinkled in.
Honestly where do I even begin? In TOS, Starfleet was modeled after the navy (idk how accurately, but Roddenberry was in the air force so I’m assuming he’d know how all that works). You can get a feel for the chain of command, and everything feels natural with character ages and things like that. There’s a procedure for everything.
AOS Starfleet feels more like a high school club than an interplanetary exploration organization. Jim is supposed to be twenty-five when he gets the rank of captain- after he was almost expelled for cheating. He has no idea how to operate or run a starship. TOS Kirk moved through the ranks of Starfleet and was promoted on merit and leadership skills- he worked for his position.
Why was Jim the only person who knew what was happening when Nero showed up? Was there any requirements to joining to Starfleet other than get on the shuttle? Why did the linguist not know the difference between Vulcan and Romulan when they’re the linguist? How did Pike bypass the chain of command to appoint Jim Kirk as First Officer which was an obvious show of favoritism to someone was about to be thrown out of the academy? Why the fuck was he allowed to keep the title of captain?
What the fuck?
Speaking of Jim.
2. Jim Kirk’s Character
I…don’t like Jim’s character in this film. It’s not terrible for a younger version of Kirk, but like I said though, there’s no reason Kirk should be this young. And in this one he’s just kinda a douche.
We know from TOS that Kirk gets around, but he genuinely cares for his exes, and in general respects women. He uses sex appeal as a strategy, but more than anything this comes off as a subversion of the femme fatal trope bc Kirk is a man. In the movie, he’s just a standard action movie protag who has lots of sex just because.
The scene when the Orion woman says she loves him and he replied “that’s so weird” is just…so weird? Like I can’t imagine Kirk doing anything in that situation than backing off and explaining that he doesn’t feel the same way. The scene continues with him hiding under the bed when Uhura walks in. Watching how the camera angle makes Jim out to be a voyeur made me uncomfortable then and it still does. It could be explained that Jim is trying to figure out Uhura’s identity or that he’s listening in and people look at who they’re listening to but like…she was in her underwear. You shouldn’t look at people while they’re getting undressed, especially when they don’t even know you’re there? Is that a hot take? Apparently.
In TOS there’s this really nice scene in This Side of Paradise(S1E24) where the whole crew is high (again) and has abandoned ship, leaving Kirk to tend to things. We see Jim move around the ship with a little clip pad and make the proper checks. This is a captain who knows his stuff. That is the Kirk we should have seen if we’re going to see Jim become captain.
AOS kirk goes through a standard “stop being an asshole” arc commonplace for male protagonists, but this happens well past the point he should stop being an asshole. Either the AOS series should’ve been a prequel with Jim becoming captain at the end of the trilogy, or he should’ve been older with a completely different arc- maybe coming to terms with his rank? Imposter syndrome? Learning to trust his crew and building trust with them? Building a friendship with Spock and McCoy? There’s a lot to work with here.
3. Spock and Uhura’s relationship
Why. Like why. For what. Por Que.
I like giving Uhura a bigger role, I don’t like making her a love interest to do that.
It doesn’t make sense for either of their characters. Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, linguist expert who handles all transmissions to and from the enterprise- an icon of black women’s representation is now demoted to Spock’s nagging girlfriend. This bothers me more than a little bit.
It manages to make even less sense for Spock. A hallmark of Spock’s character is his duality. He struggles to combat his emotions and the human half of him. His repeating character arc in TOS is coming to terms with humanity while upholding the Vulcan way of life. Having him in an established romantic relationship before this arc is supposed to happen just makes for a boring romantic subplot about a relationship that shouldn’t happen and that I don’t care about.
TOS Vulcan culture is kinda shitty. Explicitly patriarchal and stuff, and also kinda racist against humans. The source of Spock’s inner conflict is not himself but a society that views him as lesser for being half human. However, one thing that I can certainly understand from a “logical” (logic in quotations bc racism and sexism is fucking stupid) people is ritualized arranged marriages. It just…makes sense to me that Vulcans would simply have their mates chosen for them and then marry that person and be done with it. Neat. Logical. Conformity.
This makes Spock and Uhura’s relationship even stranger. Why would Spock go so against conformity that he dates someone before he truly comes to terms with himself? Even if they throw out ponfarr and arranged marriage, it still doesn’t work but now it especially doesn’t work.
My personal theory is that Spock and Uhura’s relationship was established purely to make shippers shut up. It’s no secret Spirk is the most popular ship from TOS. I have no doubt they knew this while writing the movie. So to quietly wrap a no homo on Spock and Kirk’s friendship, they use Uhura as a prop to do so.
The teacher/student dynamic should only be relegated to fan fiction and the throwaway line about oral sensitivity makes me cringe. Every. Time.
Karl Urbans performance is easily my favorite part of this movie. He captures DeForrest Kelley so well it hurts. He made Leonard Nimoy cry. His chemistry with Pine made McKirk go from the most underrated triumvirate ship in TOS to rival Spirks popularity in AOS. His scenes with Zachary Quinto are just *chefs kiss*.
So why doesn’t he have more of a role? The triumvirate is missing a third.
In particular, there’s a scene where Uhura, Kirk, and Spock make their way down to a planet to talk to a Klingon. I can’t remember which movie it was or why, but Spock and Uhura were bickering and Kirk remarks “can we do this later?”
The line was funny. It would’ve been golden if it was McCoy and not Uhura.
A fantastic performance by an underutilized character in a movie where that character should’ve been at the forefront.
I am skeptical of any movie that advertises diversity. Nonetheless, it made me happy to know Sulu was going to be gay. This is Star Trek after all, known for its diversity and large LGBT fan base, and an homage to George Takai who’s a gay man irl. So whatever.
The fact that I wasn’t expecting much says a lot about the current state of LGBT rep in media but this blink-and-you-miss-it shit is really starting to get to me.
I mean he jus- he doesn’t even give his husband a KISS. Like why.
6. Destroying Vulcan
WHY. Oh god why.
This isn’t Star Wars, JJ. We don’t do that here.
Imploding Vulcan was the most god awful shock value bullshit plot device I’ve ever seen in a movie and it was done entirely to make Spock sad. Besides the gaping plot hole of “why did Nero go back in time to destroy Vulcan when he could’ve just saved Romulus” I’m just grasping to find a purpose for this particular event. New fans don’t care at all about Vulcan while I was enraged that they would do Amanda that dirty.
It’s not just that they did that, it’s more that they did it like that. Vulcan’s destruction should’ve caused a federation wide meltdown as the biggest catastrophe in the entire franchise. If they were gonna make the stakes so pointlessly high, they should’ve treated the destruction of Vulcan exactly how they would treat the destruction of earth. There a million ways to treat that event with more gravity and million better plot lines that don’t involve G E N O C I D E
7. Miscellaneous petty bullshit because I’m a baby
-lower the fucking stakes Jesus Christ
-Don’t like the set. It’s bright and white and boring and gives me a headache. You don’t need a remake of the old set but like have fun ya know? Shit looks like an Apple store.
-Christine and I are the same in that we are both soft and are thirsty for Spock. Imagine my surprise to learn she wasn’t fucking there. Same with Janice but I’m more pressed about Christine. I don’t even remember the name of that blonde doctor lady who is Not Christine but i didn’t want her.
-The costumes in AOS look boring but still don’t feel like a uniform either. I deadass think Chris Pines outfit in the SNL skit looked better than the actual movie (minor adjustments needed)
-I didn’t notice this at first but someone pointed out that women’s uniforms don’t signify rank and now I can’t not see it. I don’t…think this movie treats women good? Or McCoy? Or just people who deserve better?
-I get why they did it but I don’t like that they misquoted the opening theme to say “no one” instead of “no man”. I probably wouldn’t have even notice except they gave the line to Uhura. Comes off as just a touch too “yay feminism” which is really rich coming from that treated Uhura like an object to be looked at when she wasn’t too busy being Spock’s emotional support gf, and completely cut two women from the main cast.
If I could describe these movies in one word it’d be generic. Which sucks because Star Trek far from generic.
They’re fun to watch but not think about. It was nice that I got to see a Star Trek movie in theaters. I just wish it as the same Trek I saw on TV.