Well, readers, it looks like I've fallen off the wagon. After 9 years of vigilance, the 12 step program, and the help and encouragement from patient family and friends, I've relapsed once again. That's right folks, I went to see the new Star Trek movie. Like the addict who can't stay away from his vice, I succumbed to my curiosity to see what they'd done with Trek.
People who have known me for very long know that I've forgotten more about Star Trek than most people could ever dream of knowing. I've been to conventions galore, once owned all the spec manuals, Next Generation VHS Episodes, and a good number of the action figures. I faithfully watched every episode and movie, drew pictures of the enterprise while I should have been studying something, actually liked Deep Space 9, and attended conventions where people spoke Klingon to each other. I distinctly remember meeting William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Majel Barrett Rodennberry and even the actress who played that cute 'Dabo girl' at Quark's bar whose name I've long since forgotten.
I thought I'd gotten over it finally and was on the path to recovery and coolness, or at least some semblance of respectability where folks wouldn't snicker about my favorite television show. That was, until they decided to "re-invent" the franchise, just like Hollywood's recently done with Batman, James Bond, and other gold plated cash cow brands.
So, together with my new friends Roger, Vicky, and Su-Yeon, we met up at the Lotte Cinema and paid our 8000 Won (about 5-6 USD) to see Star Trek on opening night. Fortunately, I managed to get through the whole evening without mentioning this embarrassing past of mine, as none of them seem the wiser.
As for the film itself, I liked it but was a slight bit disappointed. Perhaps I expected too much, as all my friends gave it rave reviews, but thinking back, I kind of feel two major flaws prevented it from being an absolutely fantastic movie.
First off, I felt the story was kind of weak. While the characters, themes, and minutiae of Classic Trek were re-imagined and well executed in innovative, hip, and sexy new ways, the story and plot was not. A rogue Romulan named Nero terrorizes the galaxy in a huge, giant spacecraft. Almost exactly like another Trek movie I think. Spock and Kirk time travelers creating...alternate realities, and a super powerful weapon capable of destroying a planet. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise get rewarded for their insubordination. If it all sounds familiar, you know what I'm talking about. I've seen this in the last 9 Star Trek films alone, to say nothing of the TV series!
This latest Hollywood trend of "jump-starting" old franchises seems to be making lots of moviegoers happy and a few people a lot of money. But I remember director Christopher Nolan commenting on his successful reprise of the Batman series: it all starts with a good story. All pretty trimmings and great presentation do not replace the meat and potatoes of a meal. In both Batman begins, and The Dark Knight, the re-imagined and newly hip characters work their way through great stories, replete with a complex tapestry of fascinating themes.
They might have made Star Trek cool for a bit, and delivered wonderful new visions of a now more fascinating Kirk and Spock, but the story was just somewhat lacking. At times they hit on themes and ideas about sacrifice and duty or hope in the face of adversity, but nothing was really fleshed out, and not in any well thought out way.