Tuesday, May 5, 2009

STAR TREK! (spoilers ahead)

For some Star Trek fans (like me, for example), it never got better than the original series. You think that it would have been gratifying to learn that J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film would be based on the original series, to hear him say that to him Star Trek has always been about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Instead, it scared us to death. We needn't have worried. Having seen the film, I can assure you that J.J. Abrams and his associates know what they're doing.

Nemesis, the previous film in the series, did its best to cynically imitate that most beloved entry in the Star Trek pantheon The Wrath of Khan. Predictably, it was a miserable failure. The new movie reminds me of The Wrath of Khan in all the right ways: it's a fresh take on Star Trek by a person who wasn't a fan of the show before now, and who wasn't particularly worried about upsetting a few fussy fanboys. Some people may complain that that Abrams got some technical details "wrong", but they're missing the point. Transporters, warp engines, phasers, and Jeffries' tubes are fictional constructs; there's no "right" or "wrong" way to depict them. The original Star Trek was always about the characters, and this movie gets the characters right. The faces are different, but Kirk is unmistakably Kirk, Spock is Spock, McCoy is McCoy, and so on. And the Spock-Uhura relationship? I don't have a problem with it. It's believable in the context of the story, and I applaud the filmmakers for having the guts to take some chances with these characters. Ditto the destruction of Vulcan. It gets your attention, and forcefully drives home the point that this isn't your traditional prequel; all bets are off.

Are there plot holes? Sure. But The Wrath of Khan had some pretty gigantic ones, too, and it didn't hurt that film. I understand that there was an entire subplot about Nero and his crew being in a Klingon prison for the twenty-five years between the destruction of the Kelvin and the main events of the movie that had to be cut for time and clarity, and the resulting inference that they were just hanging around doing nothing all that time does hurt the movie a little. Couldn't it have been stated that their warp drive was damaged by the collision with the Kelvin and they'd been moving around at relativistic speeds ever since, so what seemed like 25 years to the rest of the universe was only a few days to them? Also, since Star Trek was originally concieved and largely written by men who had served in the military, it always got those sorts of details right. In this movie, however, Kirk goes from being a cadet to a Captain just because he helps save the world. Such a thing would never happen in any self-respecting military organization I can think of; it would have been nice if J.J. Abrams "Supreme Court" had included a military history buff like Ron Moore to ensure authenticity in that area.

None of these nitpicks damages Star Trek's enjoyability, however. This movie is big, fun, and wonderfully well-done. If you are a Star Trek fan, you're in luck because this is probably the best film in the series. If you are not a Star Trek fan, you're also in luck, because this movie was made for you. The cumbersome baggage that weighed down recent Treks has been jettisoned, and it's possible to thoroughly enjoy this movie even if you've never seen Star Trek before. It's a joyful experience that's well worth the price of admission. Go see it now. See it multiple times.

You'll be glad you did.


  1. Hmmm... The recipe for recent "successful" reboots:

    * More action
    * Younger cast
    * Disregard for established canon
    * More sexual content

    Yup. Another "successful" reboot. I'll watch the film when it arrives on basic cable... Someday.

  2. As for the more action and younger cast, that's just the way that summer blockbusters are made these days. It's a Hollywood thing, not something that's unique to J.J. Abrams. And while this movie may have had more sexual content than most Trek films, it was extremely mild. The Troi/Riker (with guest appearance by Shinzon) scene in Nemesis was far worse.

    And canon? Don't get me started. Star Trek, Star Wars, Transformers, and all those other entertainment franchises are FICTIONAL CONSTRUCTS. They're not real. The stupid insistence on adhering to every previously established detail about a fictional universe, even when it interferes with good storytelling and accessibility to new audiences, is counter-intuitive and asinine. It's something I had pretty much grown out of by the time I was 18.

    Obviously, not everyone's going to like the movie and that's okay. But to contemptuously sneer over the fact that it looks like a product of the Hollywood system that produced it, or that the filmmakers didn't bow down and worship before the sacred altar of canon just makes one look ridiculous.

  3. "Canon," as you so aptly want to throw out the window at first convenience, is why people CARE about "FICTIONAL CONSTRUCTS." They are the 'rules' that the fiction abides by.

    No, I'm not going to lecture you on why canon matters because you obviously do not care much about it (See previous posts on your gushing over Battlestar Galactica).

    However, I find it deeply ironic that someone called "Future Guy" with a "Horizon" pavilion logo would be casting aside Star Trek canon but still cling to the notion that Lassiter et all will wake up one day, rush together a news conference & proceed to deeply apologize to the pro-Classic EPCOT Center fans for the past 20 years of indiscretions concerning that theme park.

    Actually, I don't find it deeply ironic, I find it... What was the word you used? Oh, yes, "Ridiculous."

  4. I try to keep a pretty positive, optimistic tone here, and I've made it clear that my opinions are my own and I don't expect anyone to agree with them.

    If I hadn't enjoyed the Star Trek movie, I simply would not have written about it. After all, I'm neither a professional critic nor an influential voice in the fan community; no one's lining up to read my opinions. Randy Landers at Orion Press just posted a detailed critique of the film's many plot holes on his site, and if you're looking for that kind of thing, I encourage you to check it out. Although I enjoyed the movie, I respect Randy and his opinions very much.

    Concerning EPCOT, I'd have to say that EPCOT Central is really the best blog around when it comes to chronicling the many creative failings of the park since its 1994 Eisnerization. I'm nowhere near as good as EPCOT Central's author, and I'm not interested in embarrassing myself by trying to copy him. I'm not afraid to be critical at times, but when I notice something positive I want to draw attention to it.

    The way I see it, there's plenty of negativity on the Internet. If that's what floats your boat, then that's okay, but it's just not my thing. I try to stay optimistic and positive here.


Thanks for taking the time to comment!