Sunday, November 22, 2009

Star Trek

Here I am, late as usual, writing about a movie all of you saw months ago in the theaters. But what the heck. That never shut me up before.

Like it was yesterday, I remember sitting down to watch the premiere of STAR TREK in 1967. (If it wasn’t 1967, don’t blame me. I don’t fact-check these things, you know.) I was a big science-fiction fan and was really looking forward to it, and it didn’t disappoint me. Sure, the original series looks a little cheesy now, but I never noticed that then. I loved the show, watched all the episodes as they aired, watched the reruns, watched the syndicated reruns, watched the cartoon show, and read all the books based on both. Gradually, though, the enthusiasm waned. When the movies started coming out, I watched them and liked them all right. I didn’t catch up on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION until after it had ended its run, but then I saw all the episodes in reruns and became a fan of that one, too. Then I watched all the other spin-off series (gave up on VOYAGER before it ended, though). Read some of the tie-in novels here and there along the way. So I consider myself a Star Trek fan, although not an obsessive one by any means.

Which brings us to the new STAR TREK movie.

Of course I had to watch it. Several years ago, before there was even any discussion about this one, I read a comment from someone, sorry I don’t remember who, that said, “You’ll know you’re really old when you see different actors playing Kirk and Spock in the movies.” So I guess I’m really old, which comes as no surprise. And as such, I was prepared to be cantankerous and find fault with the new movie. For about two-thirds of it, I still was. I kept thinking, “Yeah, the special effects are good, and the actors are okay, and the story’s pretty interesting, but . . . but . . . but this isn’t right! And that over there’s wrong! And that’s not the way it was!”

But then the movie springs its nice little plot twist that makes everything okay. I won’t go into the details of it, in consideration for the two or three of you who haven’t seen the film already, but it put a grin on my face, I can tell you that. And the overall effect is to make me say that I liked this movie quite a bit and will certainly watch any sequels they’d like to make. I don’t think the magic of the original is quite there, at least not for me, but the movie comes close to capturing it here and there.

It also makes me want to go and read some of the tie-in novels. There are plenty of them out there I’ve never read. Whether or not I’ll ever get around to it is another question. But I might.

UPDATE: The quote about different actors playing Kirk and Spock comes from my friend Don Herron.


Bill Crider said...

Just a rough guess, but I'd say there are around 4000 ST novels you haven't read since you indicate it's been a few years since you read one.

I still haven't seen this movie. I will, eventually, though.

David Cranmer said...

You're not the only one that hasn't seen it. And I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. Sounds terrific.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's my favorite of the movies but I missed one or two. I think the new group of young actors makes it seem more like a movie and not an extension of the TV series.

Evan Lewis said...

I was in a little deeper than you, James. My ex-wife was a Trekkie (complete with pointy ears and Starfleet uniform) so we attended conventions and met the actors and spent oodles in the auctions. Now that she's a thing of the past I figured I could enjoy this new film just like any other semi-normal human being. And while I did enjoy it immensely, and thought that big plot device extremely clever, I can't help resent them wiping out centuries of the future history I'd come to know.

Brian Drake said...

I enjoyed the movie too, but I don't have any fondness for it. The plot twist was neat and the actors were decent, but I grew up on the original cast (and the Next Generation) so those are the cornerstones for which any Trek interpretation must meet. This new version did not meet that. It was like watching the most recent Trek series, Enterprise: entertaining, but nothing significant.

This weekend one of the cable channels is running the original motion picture and Star Trek II. Commercial free. Yes, I recorded them. I haven't seen either in 20 years so I'm very excited to watch them back-to-back.

Lagomorph Rex said...

I really liked that they made the movie both a "Side-Quel", "Sequel" and a " Requel " all in one..

Its not in the strictest sense a reboot since it takes place in Continuity with the TV show.. just a slightly different one.. so all the old adventures, movies, hair ripping continuity problems that plagued the TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/Treks 1-10 are still there.. just not.. here.. But this is the franchise with the Q-Continuum so I see no real reason to question anything in it.. Trying to actually sit down and figure it out might be slightly less difficult than figuring out the continuity of say.. Doctor Who (madness lies that way) but its still a rather futile effort..

I do wish however they had filmed some of the scenes that made up the bridging Comic book.. but I figure they thought if they went and tacked on TNG characters at the beginning it would just further enrage the Enterprise fans who are still apparently pissed off that Burman turned the entire 4 seasons of Enterprise into a Holodeck experience that Riker was watching somewhere towards the end of the last season of TNG.. or something.. I've never really figured it out to be honest..

Todd Mason said...

Haven't seen this, because everything J.J. Abrams touches annoys me when I do, and I'm a mild ST fan at best, as well. But STAR TREK the original series (or TOS, no less) began transmission in 1966, fwiw. Remarkable how many folks choose to forget about the cartoon, even given the original scripts by Larry Niven, et al.

Scott Parker said...

I'm with Rex: had they filmed some of the scenes from the comic book--at least for the DVD special--it would have been a Trek dream. Really enjoyed the movie and look forward to more.

As to tie-in novels, here are a few of my favorites:

Imzadi (TNG) - Tells the story of how Riker and Troi got together complete with time travel, Commodore Data, and the Guardian of Forever.

Vendetta (TNG) - The planet eater machine (the giant "Conucopia" thing) was, in reality, a machine built by Guinan's race (Whoopi fro TNG) to kill the Borg homeworld. In this book, there's a new, bigger version.

The Return (TNG/TOS) - This is one of Shatner's stories and it's a doozie. It takes place after ST: VII where Kirk is dead. It's got the Borg, Voyager's Janeway, TNG crew, and a reanimated Kirk. Kick-ass story and the only one I've read twice.

Q Squared (TNG) - Trelane, from TOS, is really a Q who's been booted out. Now, Picard and crew must face Trelane and Q.

Charles Gramlich said...

I will definintely be watching this as soon as it comes on PPV.

Randy Johnson said...

As a fan of TOS, everything you said made sense. I understood it all though. This is one for a new generation used to all the bells and whistles of today's computer and video games.

With current technology, it all would have looked cheesy done the way of the original.

I liked the twist you speak of as well.

I used to keep up with the tie-ins until they went crazy and stopped buying them when I realized I had a pile still unread. I buy the occasional ones today based on TOS only.

Anonymous said...

The movie is great fun and has genuine reverence for the classic characters.
But there are some really strained plot developments. Stuff that had me gaping at the screen and wondering how the writers felt they could get away with them.

I understand that most every series protagonist gets a bunch of breaks from the author in the form of sudden fortuitous events and unlikely coincedences, but Kirk really gets dropped onto Planet Deus Ex Machina in this movie.

John Hocking

Bruce said...

James I finally caught this also and really enjoyed it. Talk about putting a much needed boot in the ass for this franchise. Just a pure blast of fun

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Guess I'm the only one who couldn't stomach the MTV effects. They ruined the show for me, although there were elements of the plot I enjoyed.

George said...

I actually saw this movie three times including an IMAX version. It's true to the original and the new cast is talented. More STAR TREK movies are on their way. That's a Good Thing.