There I was, sitting at the early matinee, watching Star Trek with my wife, her cousin, and her brother. Two of them are among the world’s most passionate “Trekkies.” And then there was her cousin who told me, “I just want to see some action, have some fun.” I was in the same mood that day and, as it turned out, it was the perfect way to enjoy the movie.
I’ll come right out with it. The Star Trek fans in my midst were decidedly disappointed. The movie makes a rather ballsy move and throws the cherished Star Trek universe out the window. To listen to my wife, creator J.J. Abrams (Lost) thumbed his nose at all Gene Roddenberry had spent his life creating. My brother-in-law was more dramatic: “Sacrilege!” he said.
My wife settled down later though after reading the issue of Entertainment Weekly she’d been refusing to read for days, she hates spoilers. It argued – quite correctly – that Star Trek had grown too big.
After five television series, ten prior movies, and a bazillion novels all requiring official Star Trek sanction; the writers of this latest adventure must’ve felt stifled, even crushed, by the weight of official Trek history. They were likely terrified by the certainty of sequels to come. They had to do something, quickly, and once and for all.
I won’t describe the exact nature of this “sacrilege,” but I’ll say one thing. It didn’t bother me a bit. As merely a casual observer of the television incarnations, as one who is weary from lugging his wife’s box of vintage Star Trek paperbacks from house to house, and as one who can’t believe there have been that many movies (I lost track after Spock saved the whales); I didn’t even realize how history was being trampled until I watched the planet Vulcan collapse.
I asked my wife on the way home, “Didn’t Spock go to Vulcan a bunch of times during the show?” She gave me that look that says, “You were lost, weren’t you?” And she was right; there is only so much alternative universe mumbo-jumbo I can take. I was lost – stranded in space by the creator of Lost (sorry, I couldn’t resist) – but happily so. I had a great time.
While my wife and brother-in-law were grumbling, my wife’s cousin and I bopped out of the theater grinning from ear to ear. This incarnation really takes advantage of its sizable budget. We’re space warps removed now from the cheesiness of the original series – although I did find it comforting that three people leaving the ship, two main characters and a guy in a red shirt, still means one of them is a goner. Guess which one?
And those opening sequences showing us the birth and boyhood of future Captain James Tiberius Kirk are just wow! This is the kind of fun that the Star Wars prequels should have been. It is an origin story that does much more than just show us how Bones got his name and how Scotty was always the geekiest engineer in the universe. It’s not your usual, inert, origin tale. It’s a story with things to do and places to go.
More than anything, the cast is fantastic. I could single out Chris Pine who, in moments of stress and trauma, seems a dead ringer for Shatner’s Kirk or Zachary Quinto who is Spock. But that would short change the others. I left the theater excited for the first time in ages at the promise of sequels to come. I can’t wait to explore new frontiers with them.