Home > Film, Movie Project > Star Trek: A totally impartial and unbiased review by a diehard Trekkie

Star Trek: A totally impartial and unbiased review by a diehard Trekkie

Kicking off the project with Star Trek was originally a very binary decision: Wolverine was gonna (and did) suck, while Star Trek looked promising.  Plus, I grew up on Star Trek.  So, should I start the season off on a downer, or with a little punch?  While bad movie reviews are fun, and there will be plenty this summer, I wanted to start with a positive experience.  But—unbeknownst to me—Star Trek perfectly illustrates The Awesome Project’s ™©® maxim, your environment affecting the movie experience.

To fully explain my love affair with Star Trek I’d have to start in 1987 (when I was 2) and continue to present day, copiously describing how TNG excited me, DS9 molded me, Voyager perplexed me, and Enterprise divorced me.  It would take a book—filled with in-jokes of warp fields, god-like beings, and karate chops—to fully capture the impact Star Trek has had on my life.  But for the sake of summary here’s how I much I love Star Trek: my family can identify any episode of Star Trek (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, and some of ENT) by any 10-second clip.  I skipped an entire section of the ACT Reading Comprehension test because the article was on the Bjo Trimble led fan campaign to renew the Original Series—I went straight to the questions and got every one right.  As a family, we are proud of our geekiness—just like we are proud that both our paperback and hardcover copies of the Star Trek Encyclopedia became unglued from the binding due to excessive use (we affectionately named our hardcover the “Book of G’Quan”—yes, we’re geeks).  I can’t divorce myself from my fandom to view this movie objectively.  I tried, since I finished the movie, to impartially view how it holds up.  In the end, I just don’t care.  I keep drifting back to the in-jokes, the winks and the nods, the new look, the action sequences, and the effective reinterpretation of old characters.  I didn’t need to make a special method movie going effort for Star Trek.  I was already in the mindset.

That said, when “Star Trek: The Exhibit” came to the Detroit Science Center and offered the chance to sit in the Captain’s Chair, saying no meant surrendering my geek card.  Seeing how I’d like to keep it, I obviously said yes.  The initial method movie going plan revolved around going to the exhibit, and relating how the “real-life” presence of the props and sets changed my viewing of the new film.  In retrospect, that idea would only work if I never watched a minute of Trek in my life.  When I sat in the Captain’s chair (after admiring it from afar with my equally Trekked-out cousin and brother) I felt the same giddy excitement that I would feel when the Enterprise appeared on screen at MJR’s Waterford cinema.  The movie didn’t tell the old Trek to go screw itself, but embodied the spirit of the original and created a fitting homage.  I routinely consume all things Trek—I follow TrekMovie.com, post/lurk regularly at the TrekBBS, and read the “Countdown” comics leading up to the film.  The idea that I needed to get more in touch with the artistry and craftsmanship of making Star Trek is, quite frankly, a little ridiculous.

When not laughing at all the small in-jokes, I actually paid attention to the rest of the movie.  The new cast took on the daunting task of re-imagining iconic pop culture figures; each of them nailed it.  The actors had a constant ebb-and-flow and a sense that if they weren’t chasing after a deranged hybrid ship and its insane captain, they would consider grabbing a beer together.  The most rewarding part—besides seeing the pitch-perfect performances of the main trio and Simon Pegg—was watching the usual tertiary characters have a point.  Uhara didn’t just pick up the phone, Chekov didn’t just perform a horrible Yakov Smirinoff routine, and Sulu didn’t just hit a few buttons; all of them were competent officers that deserved to be on the top ship in the fleet.  Each of them had a big moment that showcased their skills and helped further the plot (leading to Kirk and Spock teaming up to kick ass and steal all the glory.  Jerks).

Admittedly, the back story and emotional resonance lacked to fully understand some of the actions; a fact that keeps this film from ranking higher on my totally subjective, yet absolutely indisputable, ranking of the Star Trek films (The Wrath of Khan and First Contact top the list), but this movie recaptured the gung-ho, free-wheeling feel of the Original Series and made me want more.  Something the last few incarnations of Trek films lacked.  In addition to making the Trekkie audience enjoy themselves, an odd experience happened upon leaving the film: self-professed and proud non-Trek fans proclaimed their surprise enjoyment.  JJ Abrams’s and his scribes—Alex Kurtzman and hardcore Trekkie Roberto Orci—crafted the most accessible Star Trek film in the long line-up of Star Trek films.  Even the top tier Trek films—the aforementioned Khan and First Contact—required a slight knowledge of the series back-story to fully digest the movies.  You could enjoy the film not knowing how kickass Khan was in the first season episode Space Seed, or the harrowing past of Locutus of Borg from the two-parter Best of Both Worlds, but to have all the points fully resonate you had to know the past.  Here you can be a complete newbie in the Star Trek universe and never feel lost.  Sure, you wouldn’t chuckle when Scotty proclaimed that he’s “giving her all she’s got!” (and wonder why the rest of us were during the tense scene) but you could still fully enjoy the story, and watch as the characters develop from brash cadets to confident officers.

Star Trek wasn’t perfect, but it never came close to being bad.  And even if it was—with 23 years of Star Trek fandom and knowledge under my belt—I couldn’t have cared.  The essence of Star Trek was recaptured and retold in an entertaining way.  For a franchise that has had a profound impact on me—by either guaranteeing 2 hours of family time a week, or by helping me understand the cultural impact of TV and film—it’s all I needed to remember why I enjoyed the universe in the first place.

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  1. Stacy
    May 22, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Stumbled back to your site through facebook. After reading this one, I am now officially subscribing to your blog. Sadly, too tired to check out more posts or comment wittily right now, but I’ll be back another day!

  2. Stacy
    May 25, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Drew, thanks for conjuring up old memories of family times at the Mallard home as well. Locutus! I can’t stand to see Patrick Stewart in the X-men movies–he’ll always be Jean Luc to me. The Borg were the scariest aliens ever in my opinion. Scarier than Sigorney’s drooling toothy friend and scarier than any Sith-lord will ever hope to be. They steal the essence of who you are, which is way scarier than getting hit by a light saber. Although getting sealed in plastic-y alien goo waiting to die is pretty nightmare-inducing too.

    Anyway, loved this movie. Thanks for the great writing!

  3. May 26, 2009 at 1:05 am

    The Borg, in many ways, are better than most robot villains because they do exactly that — steal who you are. The Cylons took the same route, by infiltrating human, making everyone doubt if you could trust your bunkmate. Certainly more intimidating than the generic “Terminator” villains in “Terminator Salvation” or T3 (just saw T4 so I’ll have to include your point in my review).

    As for Picard in X-Men, I do the same thing, but I was championing him as the perfect Professor X as a kid watching the cartoons and reading the comics. So, I was overly joyed when he got the part. 🙂

    Glad you’re enjoying the reviews!

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