Back in the deep dark days of my childhood, before satellite, cable, or DVDs, back when even the VCR was just a gleam in some engineer’s eye, to be a science fiction fan was to be a Star Trek fan.
And for good reason.
The original Star Trek was a thing of beauty, so loaded with adventure, romance, and courage under fire, that young viewers never realized it was really an exercise in philosophy, exploring the violence, racism, and social conflict of its times.
But as deep and exciting as its storytelling often was, I think the real strength of the series was in what it didn’t tell. Unlike its successors, classic Trek usually resisted the temptation to over-explain.
As a viewer, you were always left wanting more. Wondering how transporters really worked, what powered an android, and what all those other little buttons on the console went to.
Unfortunately, starting with The Next Generation, the Star Trek franchise started shedding the adventure and wonder of its heritage and began a relentless journey deeper and deeper into its own head.
Where mystery once flirted, exposition now abounded. Every action got saddled with what seemed like hours of pseudo-scientific technobabble, to the point where roughly 25% of all available screen time got dedicated to the theoretical science behind any current crisis.
You couldn’t get fifteen minutes into an episode or feature film without one of Star Fleet’s finest saying something like,
“Maybe if we triggered a graviton pulse inversion with a double pike and served it with a side order of chronoton fluxuation in the aft sensor array, we could eventually find some action or at least return to speaking English sometime before the credits roll.”
Which brings me to my point.
Despite my earlier doubts and suspicions to the contrary, the new Star Trek movie officially rocks.
The action is back, the passion is back, and the wonder is at full strength.
This film takes the characters that we’ve loved for years, pays proper respect to their origins and motivations, and then breaks them free of the accumulated baggage and “fate” (i.e the accepted storylines of the Star Trek cannon) launching them into new and uncharted adventures.
This film has left me seriously stoked.
Final rating: Two thumbs on phasers set to “amaze.”
The last film Brent mentioned in these pages did not do so well. Check out this fair and balanced review of the most hideous waste of film ever spawned: Dragon Wars.