The ramblings, rants, and observations of an Orthodox Reactionary. Feel free to look around!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Star Trek review, and the Nature of Trek

Okay, folks. It took me awhile, but here it is:



I mean, seriously.

Now, I am a life-long Star Trek fan. Some of my best childhood memories involve sitting in the living room with my dad and my brother, watching Star Trek: The Original Series(TOS) and The Next Generation(TNG). I remember once, around 2nd grade, having to be sent back to bed because I had snuck out of my bedroom and into the living room because Star Trek: The Motion Picture was on. My brother and I, between us, owned almost every Star Trek action figure there was. We even had the very badass Transporter room playset-- y' know, the one with the trick mirror that makes the figures disappear with a beaming noise when you put them inside? I discovered much sci-fi since then, but the Enterprise and her valiant crew have always held a special place in my geek heart.

But in recent years, my beloved Star Trek had fallen on hard times. It suffered from a series of lackluster-to-outright-bad movies, even worse TV series, and terrible corporate handling. In the pop-culture solar system, the mainstream and the accepted dwelt nearest the social sun; the tolerated science fiction and fantasy planets revolving at a distance; and further out, the obscure but cool gas giants.

And way out there, at the fringe where barely any light reached, was Star Trek. Star Trek had become a joke and a byword to the masses, only cared about by a sad fraternity of laughable "basement dwellers"-- like the Freemasons, but with fake pointy ears. And it seemed that Star Trek was doomed to eternal irrelevance.

Then... this film. With the aid of some of my awesome fellow Rumblers, I have compiled my thoughts into something cohesive and more substantive than merely throwing around adjectives. Though there will be plenty of those too.

Okay, on to the film itself.

The opening scene is fantastic. We see the USS Kelvin encounter the big bad villain's ship (Emphasis on BIG) from the future. The camera angles and special effects really emphasize the vastness of space. I don't want to spoil this film (it is really good, and you NEED TO SEE IT), but there is a heartbreakingly awesome moment at the beginning that had me in tears Every. Single. Time. I saw the movie.

Zachary Quinto does a great job as young Spock, perfectly balancing the human emotions roiling beneath the calm Vulcan exterior. Chris Pine stays away from Shatner-esque hamminess, finding his own way of expressing the essence of James Kirk. Simon Pegg as Scotty was hilarious, though alongside Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura, didn't recieve nearly enough screen time. But by far the best of all was Karl Urban. He WAS McCoy, down to the facial expressions, physical mannerisms, everything. I wasn't sure that he could pull off "Bones", since until this point Urban had always played big, brooding, manly roles. But I gained a level of respect for this actor that I had never had before.

It was a real delight to see Leonard Nimoy in what is probably his last appearance as Spock. Practically half the movie is fan-service and shout-outs to long-time Trekkers, making us feel right at home alongside brand new fans.

The special effects are stellar (literally!), and the new Enterprise is a beautiful lady indeed. The action is fast and fun. This movie grabs you right out the starting gate and doesn't let go until the classic ending which is the hallmark of almost every (decent) Star Trek film. I recommend this movie to everyone, especially those who aren't Star Trek fans. What you see on the screen, and how you feel, is exactly how I have viewed Star Trek my entire life.

I've heard complaints about the "lazy writing", most of which revolved around the time travel aspect of the plot. But let's face it: time travel is a Star Trek staple, the veggies which go alongside the space opera meat and optimistic-future-for-humanity potatoes that comprise the fun, not-too-hard-sci-fi meal that The Original Series served every week. If you can't handle time travel, you really shouldn't be watching the show to begin with.

True, this movie didn't have an underlying "food for thought" philosophy that some episodes and movies did. But preachiness, to a degree, is what was the worst about Trek. The most loved episodes- in all the series- dealt less with how morally advanced our descendants would be, and more with real people-- people like us-- facing real dilemmas that we could relate to. "City On The Edge Of Forever" is acclaimed not because of any moral message, but rather because Kirk must sacrifice the woman he loves to save the universe. Anyone who has suffered *any* kind of loss can identify with that. What we can't identify with is Picard telling a 21st century woman that "we don't believe in money or personal profit. We work to better ourselves." I'm paraphrasing, but at its best Star Trek was people like us-- people with hopes, dreams, fears, and flaws-- facing unimaginable dangers and mysteries and pulling through because of heart, and because of each other. With a liberal amount of shooting and space aliens thrown in, of course.

And that's what we see onscreen. We understand Nero's desire for revenge. We see the anguish of Kirk's mother and father on the Kelvin. We feel Pike's disappointment at how Kirk has wasted his life. We see Spock struggling to control his anger and grief because of.. well, that would be telling. The point is, these characters are HUMAN.

This film took what was most accessible, most fun about Trek, and put it on the big screen. And in doing so, it made Star Trek "cool" again. (Of course, I always thought it was cool, but who asked me?)

Do yourself a favor. See this movie.

Live Long and Prosper, Star Trek.

"The best diplomat I know is a fully-charged phaser bank." - Montgomery Scott

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