Star Trek 2009

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If I waited a week after its opening to see the new Star Trek movie, I guess it means that I no longer qualify as a Trekkie.  This isn't to say that I no longer like Star Trek. I do, very much.  But regardless of the generations of the related series, even the better Star Trek movies were only as good as some of the episodes, and most were awful.  Lesson learned: Trek with care.

The ads for the new movie made it very clear that the new movie had something that all the others didn't.  Energy.  Vibrancy.  Action.  What's a retired Trekkie to do? 

Well, first I approached the occasion by wearing my "To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before" T-shirt.  I mean, it's not like I'm wearing Vulcan ears...  My wife failed to wear her "10 Things I learned from Star Trek" shirt.  It's best not to ask why.

My son stepped up, however, donning his "I feel the need for warp speed" T-shirt.  Good lad, even if it was likely the last clean shirt in his drawers...or floor.  Then there's my daughter, who never asked for a Star Trek T-shirt and generally is ashamed of it.  I managed to take a picture of it in a very brief release from its confinement as long as I don't ever mention it to her friends:

startrek tshirt

What's this new generation coming to?

Well, after letting my thoughts on Star Trek (2009) percolate for a few days, I decided that it might best be called: Star Trek: For the Next Generation.

As someone who had the blueprints, the Technical Manual, the comic books, and who had even cast and painted the ridiculous plaster figurines, I feel that I've made an adequate investment into things Trek that, if I chose, I could raise my fist to the winds of change, angrily shouting "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"  Grouse, grouse.

Star Trek (2009) is NOT the best movie ever.  It's not even a great movie.  There's too many forced plot developments and character insertions for it to stand on its own; its compromised by the weight of its own heritage.  But it's by far the best Star Trek movie.  For those that think that's not saying much, it's a very enjoyable movie, period.  It's worth watching.

What I admire about this version, without synopsizing the plot, is that the writers didn't confine themselves to re-presenting the original characters as we knew them.  That's the result of good writing and purposeful intent, as a conservative pre-telling could only lead to disappointment and failed expectations.  After all, there's only one William Shatner (and I think we'll all miss him when he's gone).  And there's only one Leonard Nimoy, one DeForrest Kelley, etc. 

There'sstar-trek-enterprise certainly plenty of the familiar - the ship is has some fancier design lines but remains immediately recognizable, the bridge borrows from the original and later spin-offs, the characters look similar enough to be readily identifiable (the colored shirts do help, I guess), trivial character facts from the original series are included to keep core fans "in the know," camera shots often find familiar poses of the lead characters, the transporter (surprise, surprise!) remains a reminder to not place too much trust into technology, etc.

startrekcast

The difference with this new generation is that everything and everyone is amplified.  Chekov's accent is even more Russian, Bones can't say a line without it being (a bit too) funny, everyone's talents are elevated to "exceptional" years before we meet them in the "old" series (where, honestly, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu were never more than functional in their respective roles on the bridge), the comedic elements are refreshingly more frequent, and the action is not reserved until an anti-climactic end but rather drives the plot throughout.

Good stuff, all around.

The most immediate implications for the future are that with the sets built and cast in place, the creators can (with lesser investment) boldly go where the Enterprise hasn't gone before. Or, revisit where they have. They've adeptly removed any limitations on character relationships or developments from the 60's series, with entirely new possibilities.  That's a good thing.

The other certainty, given the overall youth and  rambunctiousness of the re-envisioned characters, is that this new generation will be even less respectful of the Prime Directive than the old one.  Watch out universe.

3 comments :

  1. Well, it is a damned fine yarn. I truly enjoyed it. We can further discuss it over a pint, but the Wrath of Khan remains the best Star Trek movie. Nero was but a plain super villain to be quickly brushed away while Khan was a thorn in the side that had to be removed with prejudice. Fake abs and all, it was superb in its genre.

    They have broken a lot of new ground here, ground I would have preferred left untouched. But perhaps that will mean more movies and more enjoyment. That may be the price we have to pay for furher entertainment.

    Good post and I liked the trailer addition!

    ;-)

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  2. You really liked this one better than Star Trek 2, 4 and 8? This is in the ballpark of those 3 movies, but I didn't like it THAT much.

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  3. Okay, certainly Khan wins hands down as a villain, but there was still a sense that the cast were over-acting their roles (not just Shatner...), but it would certainly qualify amongst the best of their episodes if it was a 2 hour movie.

    Trek 4 was great for the humor, and great for Trekkies to finally see the chemistry return. But saving a whale is about as lame an idea as V'ger in the awful, awful first movie.

    Borg, yes, a strong movie, but Next Generation for me will always come in 2nd to the original. It's a bias.

    The new one... same characters, full of energy, full of action... yes, it's my favorite. And I can only hope that someone will write a worth screenplay for the next one, and that the "kids" will relax more comfortably in the roles, rather than the charicatures.

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