Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trekkin' Across The Universe

Just got back from seeing the new Star Trek movie. I made a point of going to see this one in the theater, not, I confess, due to any deep affection for the Trek reboot franchise -- honestly, the mere fact that I didn't actually hate the first one came as a pleasant shock -- but mostly because, well, Benedict Cumberbatch.

But I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected to. Probably more than it objectively deserves, really. It does, at least when it's not too busy being Big and Cinematic, have a fun, TOS-y kind of feel to it, mostly in the characters' banter, which was always one of the best things about the original. And, once again, there were lots of little continuity references and such designed to please us old school Trekkies. Although there were also a couple of points that the old school Trekkie in me had some problems with (including one fairly big one that's also a fairly big spoiler if you're going into the movie blind, so I won't say anything about it here). And, to be honest, I'm not sure the plot was actually coherent at all. More than that, it inevitably (and deliberately) invites comparisons to certain things that the original did, sometimes to the point of deja vu, and if you take it up on that invitation in any remotely serious way, this version is no way in hell going to come out the winner. And, yet, I found I didn't really mind much, but instead found myself settling into some optimal combination of taking it on its own terms and enjoying it for the nostalgic pleasure of being reminded of things I've always loved but hadn't thought about all that much in a while.

And, contemplating that reaction, it occurs to me that the reason these movies work for me at all is because my brain basically treats them as big screen fan fiction. I don't have to take them too seriously, and there's no way I'm taking them as canon, but what the heck. Approached with no expectations, no feeling that anything in particular is at stake, and the sense that I'm perfectly free to enjoy the aspects I like and ignore the ones I don't, it's an entertaining enough way to spend a couple of hours.

Now, on to the Doctor Who season finale! For which I do have expectations...


(Note: You're welcome to discuss details of the movie in the comments, if you like, but for the sake of those who haven't seen it yet, please do label anything that contains spoilers. Thanks!)

6 comments:

  1. I heard a radio review of the movie today (perhaps even while you were viewing it) which said about the same things: don't expect it to be meaningful; expect it to be fun.

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    1. Yeah, that sounds about right. I kind of don't want to analyze it too much, even though I certainly could, because it's bound to come out of the process much the worse for it.

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    2. Oh dear. Then I probably shouldn't show you the almost-5,000-word analysis I've been working on for the past two days... :)

      Actually, it's not really one mega-analysis, more like a collection of mini-analyses. But if I had to sum up my reaction to this film in a single sentence, I'd say the first half was promising, inasmuch as it took the premises of the 2009 film and ran with them (exploring new angles of the Spock-Uhura relationship, for example), but then the second half was abysmal, as it turned into a self-parodic karaoke version of earlier Star Trek movies. Really, I think the key difference between the first half of the film and the second half of the film can be summed up by pointing to the two scenes in which a certain character watches other people die: the first time, it felt like I was seeing something new that I'd never seen in a Star Trek film before, and I was impressed by the acting, etc., but the second time? I had to stifle a laugh, it was so stupid -- and this, at a point when the film was asking us to take it most seriously.

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    3. LOL! Yeah, possibly not. I really do think the more I think about it, the more I'll dislike it, and I seem to have finally reached a point in my life where actually enjoying things is more fun than trashing them. :) I can't exactly argue with the accusation of being self-parodic, though. I confess to sort of laughing, myself, in a "Really? You're really going there?" kind of way. (In fact, I may have come very close to muttering that under my breath.) But then, you know, I just sort of sat back and let it happen. Because, yeah. It's totally big screen fan fiction. Whatever. :)

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  2. I discuss both of them, Star Trek and Doctor Who, over here on my blog. Basically, I thought both were quite enjoyable in the moment, both had moments to tickle the old-school fans, and both were ultimately a little empty and problematic.

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    1. I'd say that's a perfect description of the Trek movie, even if I'm not terribly inclined to dwell on all the (often rather obvious) problems. The Who... well, I'm biased about the Who. :) Let's just say this is yet another example of Moffat somehow making stuff that probably shouldn't work do it for me, anyway.

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