(Originally posted on Republibot.com on 05-08-09)
To preface, let me be clear – I am not a big fan of JJ Abrams. I have maybe seen 15 minutes tops of Alias across three episodes, and for Lost you could safely add another 10 minutes to that total. I loathed Star Trek: The Next Generation and had no use for the movies. I cannot speak intelligently about any of the other Next Generation series other than crack Borg Jokes about self-important looking status climbers sporting their latest blue tooth ear pieces or an occasional completely out of context sexist Seven of Nine comment. I liked the original series (which is apparently now referred to as TOS) well enough as a child, but that was mainly because my brother loved it and anything he dug must have been worthwhile.
So, that was, in a roundabout sort of a way, just me trying to establish my relatively lame bonafides when it comes to reviewing this movie. In addition, the very fact that it was so hotly anticipated only made me want it to fail even more.
Having said all of that, I am very disappointed to say that Star Trek was a surprisingly good movie. Maybe even a great one. Abrams and company were able to walk that fine thin line between making it feel like a real piece of the whole Universe that has been slowly dying under the weight if its own ludicrous self-importance and also, feel like it is something completely new and unrelated to all of that silliness. It is basically a Star Trek movie without having to kowtow to the pansy cultural imperialism that has been foisted upon us over the last approximately 45 years (but mostly the last 24 or so since Next Generation came along).
Ok, that is probably a bit harsh, and to be honest, there is a slight possibility a lot of that is just exaggeration for exaggeration’s sake, but the fact remains that nothing really new has happened in that franchise in forever – it has just been a very extended and boring faux intellectual circle jerk (which is an unpleasant term referring to groups of horny boys masturbating together in Scout camp – which is really about as an apt description as I can possibly come up with for the whole series of TV Shows as a whole…).
But this movie is a real game changer. First off, it has action. Real honest to goodness action. There is a visceral quality to the weaponry that has never been there before. And the ships almost act like real war ships. War ships going to war.
And there is some inter character conflict. Not as much as you would get in an episode of Saved by the Bell maybe, but for a Star Trek movie, it feels like a long stewing fight is finally ready to be served up.
And the actors are all uniformly charismatic. They bring real energy to their roles, and they aren’t delivering their lines like they are performing Shakespeare in a High School play. I cannot express how refreshing it is to not feel “Portent™” with every phrase that is uttered for once.
And finally, the thing that I probably have taken away the most from this is that I am a surprisingly nostalgic closet fan of TOS (the original series). I was truly surprised at how many of the in jokes and references I got – even to some crew members that were reminiscent of the short lived cartoon.
Star Trek was quite simply a fun ride with little to no preachiness and a healthy sense of humor about its own self. I happily recommend it and urge us all to move on from our former animosities and put the ugliness that was the last 7 or so Star Trek movies behind us. Let’s use this as our common ground and never speak of the past again.