Have your Kirk and eat it

Star Trek, in its original incarnation at least, is routinely regarded as kitschy, campy fun – a technicolour romp with overwrought acting, smooching hot alien floozies and shaking cameras and staggering about to denote being hit by photon torpedoes. It’s easy to laugh, albeit often with affection,  at the recurring themes: men in red shirts being disintegrated, repeated visits to the planet of Vasquez Rocks, and Captain Kirk shagging everything in the known universe.

However, when you were a kid (and most of us were pretty young when we first experienced the adventures of Kirk and Spock, seeing as it’s been in reruns for the last 93 years) Star Trek was never campy. When you were too young to understand limited special effects budgets, hand me down sci fi tropes and the concept of William Shatner’s ego, Star Trek was weird, thrilling and scary. 

Just another normal day on board The Enterprise

Like The Avengers‘ off kilter surrealist edge proved impossible to update convincingly for a big budget 90s remake you could never recapture the claustrophobic psychedelia of the original Star Trek now. The movies, and the subsequent TV series featured a more realistic aesthetic, and plots that relied more on action or political and philosophical issues, than mind bending Lewis Carroll  influenced fantasies.

I’ve never spoken Klingon or dressed as a Star Fleet Officer and referred to myself as “Lieutenant Commander”, but on the other hand, I spent one summer holiday watching The Wrath of Khan every single day, I know the difference between Bajorans and The Breen, and have seen nearly every episode of TNG and DS9. And I refer to them as TNG and DS9!  I also once turned down a night of sex in order to watch Star Trek themed night on BBC2 (they showed the premier of Voyager – definitely not worth it), so I suppose to most civilians I am indeed a Trekkie.

Planet of The Vasquez Rocks on Futurama

So I was initially uncertain of the prospect of a reboot. Someone other than William “The Hamosaurus” Shatner playing Kirk? Unthinkable! Surely they should just have the balls to create a new set of characters for young, sexy Academy based adventures if they must. But against all expectations the new movie, which cleverly both prequelises and sequelises the existing franchise (using the time honoured device of a temporal anomaly), is great. I won’t bother reviewing it here as many more have done it far more incisively than I can. Suffise to say, while it continues the realistic look of the previous movies but broadens the scope enough to live up to current movie standards (which the last couple of entries in the sequence most certainly didn’t – I caught some of Nemesis on TV last night and it looked like a cheap night out at a cybergoth club), both the spirit of adventure and the essence of the original crew is captured wonderfully. And having Leonard Nimoy in there for us old purists doesn’t hurt either.


^ One Comment...

  1. Baboucarr

    Your friend’s citrique boils down to a complaint about violating canon. For him, it cannot really be Star Trek because it does not share the history heretofore created.I would also have preferred an origin story that filled the gaps in the existing canon. I think stories about the earlier adventures of the original crew would be interesting: Kirk on Tarsus, Spock’s early Star Fleet career, etc. This presents a problem, however: telling it all in one film would not be that interesting, and taking more than one film to tell it delays the collection of the original characters into one crew.Staying with the existing canon also makes the producers’ task much more difficult by forcing them to fit whatever stories they want to tell within accepted timelines. They would have to invent explanations for how the newest story fits into original five-year mission. They would have to explain how the Organian Peace Treaty or the Guardian of Forever effects the current story. It also completely removes cast flexibility: they couldn’t kill of Sulu if the actor wants to go on to other projects, since the canon has him taking over as captain of his own ship.In other words, knowing the future of the characters would make story telling more difficult.My own complaint about the film come from my military background: the story is completely unrealistic. There is simply no way a more senior officer would not have been on the Enterprise to take over after Spock recuses. No Captain would entrust his ship with a cadet, no matter how brilliant, who had snuck himself aboard and not even completed his course of training. Military organizations simply don’t work that way.I would also have liked to see this done somewhat differently. But the filmmakers did a good casting job, the special effects are good (I think the bridge of a starship would be a brightly lit space), and the feel approximated that of the original series. For those of us who wanted to see these characters brought back, Abrams’ solution is better than nothing.

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