Star Trek: Where no fan has gone before

Culture, Film — By on May 15, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I loved the new Star Trek movie. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close.

I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember, so I wasn’t expecting much. I was disheartened – nay, insulted – by the first trailer. After all, I’M A FAN. How dare you cater to the uninitiated!

My husband and I have spent the past several months endeavoring to watch every single episode of Star Trek. Not because every episode is worth seeing (perish the thought), but because we’re purists like that. (We’re saving the animated series for last because we can’t decide whether it’s really canonical.) I assumed that this recent and ongoing immersion in the Star Trek world would ruin the new movie for me; I assumed it would not feel like “home”.

I was wrong. I loved the new movie, which, while not perfect, is superior to every other Star Trek movie. (Read: It’s easier to sit through.)

It’s very different from the rest of Star Trek, but it captures the spirit of the series remarkably well, despite the lack of a heavy-handed philosophical agenda. Gratuitous bar fights? Check. Overly scripted comedic relief? Check. The unexplainable flocking of all local women to some guy named Kirk? Check. Implausible scientific theory? Double check.

It was strange, seeing new actors play the people I grew up watching. I know William Shatner isn’t actually Captain Kirk, but it’s easy to forget. (Of course, some of this is Shatner’s fault…) Despite my best attempts to scorn the new actors as shadows of the real players, I quickly forgot that the men and women on screen were largely unknown to me. Karl Urban was particularly convincing as a young and already embittered Dr. McCoy.

It’ll be interesting to see where this new interpretation of the series takes us. The movie is an obvious attempt to reboot the franchise with new actors, a new visual style, and even an alternate Star-Trek-Universe timeline. If the new creators do their job well, they’ll be able to take advantage of the series’ success without having to adhere to the rules and history of the old world. Timeline disruptions, while implausible, are cool like that.

That being said, I find it hard to believe that Star Trek sequels will enjoy anything like this film’s success. Alternate timeline or no, there are only so many changes you can make before the fan base mutinies. On the other hand, as the series itself has taught us, sometimes the best results come from the least plausible plans – and sometimes you have to leave your home to see what else is out there. ‘


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  • JillD

    I was 11 or so when the original Star Trek series began and I loved the show! I never could get into the spin-offs. Too many bizarre costumes. That guy at the helm with the wrap-around glasses. No go for me.

    We all enjoyed the movie, too. Something for everyone. The time warp thing bugs me, though. That “trick” always seems like the lazy script writer’s way out. The major characters were perfectly cast and I hope there’s a Star Trek II as I’d like to see more of Scotty. The Uhura/Spock thing…. That didn’t appeal to me, either. The bantering brought back memories and was well done. So, as you said, not perfect, but great fun to watch!

    Spock’s mom appeared in the original series but didn’t make it in this movie. So…. Is this going to be another “Planet Genesis” surprise?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=570738201 Timothy Motte

    JiilD,

    Yeah, I know what you mean, I grew up on The Next Generation (well, the bits of it that my parents deemed kid-safe anyway), and didn’t see much of the original series until later – so the parts other than the Next Generation seem strange to me.

    The time warp thing always bugs me too, but in this case I thought it was the best way to restart the franchise. If Star Trek is going to keep going strong, they’re going to have to make some changes for younger audiences, and now they can do so without having to worry too much about keeping to the traditional “history”.

    They’d better not make TOO many changes, though!

  • http://www.afcmin.org/ateam David Nilsen

    I thought the time travel story was a perfect way to start from scratch while still appeasing the “true” fans who would be understandably saddened if 40 years of Trek history had been lightly tossed into oblivion.

    Also, do you remember the scene on the ice planet, just before Kirk and Scotty beam aboard the Enterprise, when Kirk says to old Spock, “You know, coming back in time; changing history. That’s cheating”? I felt as if the filmmakers were giving a voice to the fans through Kirk in that scene; giving a nod to the fact that they know very well that they’ve cheated by using time travel to change the “canon.” And yet, old Spock replies, “A trick I learned from an old friend”, pointing to the fact that Star Trek has always used implausible time traveling stories (or life-creating “genesis” devices!) to do anything they wanted to do, even bring people back from the dead!

    As a long-time Trekkie, I can also say that I absolutely loved this film (but then again, I liked Nemesis and all 4 seasons of Enterprise, so my judgment when it comes to Star Trek may be impaired).

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    *Spoiler Alert* *Spoiler Alert*

    Okay, but seriously, couldn’t they have done something other than blow up Vulcan!! Egads, man! I understand an alternate timeline sort of deal, but did they have to go and do that??

    Alas. What will the new universe be like without 6 billion Vulcans?

  • smmtheory

    I felt as if the filmmakers were giving a voice to the fans through Kirk in that scene; giving a nod to the fact that they know very well that they’ve cheated by using time travel to change the “canon.” And yet, old Spock replies, “A trick I learned from an old friend”, pointing to the fact that Star Trek has always used implausible time traveling stories (or life-creating “genesis” devices!) to do anything they wanted to do, even bring people back from the dead!

    I would have to see the film again to be certain of it, but I got the impression the ‘trick’ learned from the old friend was telling a lie in reference to not being able to meet his alternate time line self.

  • http://www.afcmin.org/ateam David Nilsen

    I would have to see the film again to be certain of it, but I got the impression the ‘trick’ learned from the old friend was telling a lie in reference to not being able to meet his alternate time line self.

    Well, the immediate context of “cheating” would be in reference to Kirk’s cheating on the Kobyashi Maru test (that would be the trick that Spock learned from Kirk as a young man). But I was simply suggesting that it might have a double meaning, and also be a hat tip to the fans who, upon watching the movie and seeing how they used the time travel plot to start a whole new series, might feel like exclaiming, “Hey, that’s cheating!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545652320 Rachel Motte

    I wish they’d blown up the Ferengi planet instead of Vulcan. Pretty much anything but Vulcan, in fact…