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The Star Trek Reloaded

I saw the new Star Trek movie tonight, and I enjoyed it. (Any real spoiler points have been ROT-13ed)

To be fair, there were tough expectations – it had to fit in with 6 series and 10 movies worth of pre-existing canon, carry on the torch of Star Trek into a new generation of movie-goers and vote holders, and somehow pay tribute to the people who defined Star Trek – it is as much Gene Roddenberry’s as it is the individual character portrayals contributed by numerous actors and actresses. And then to fit it all within a two hour window such that you can attract both die-hard fans and the mainstream audience upon which the hopes of franchise revitalization are pinned.

I believe they pulled that goal off. Paying tribute to old gags (ahpyrne jrffryf) and addressing long running factual errors (phg gb rkgrevbe fubg, jurer n fuvc vf qrfgeblrq va n ybhq rkcybfvba). Making an action packed movie that doesn’t bore people to death with complicated explanations for complicated science. And above all, a plausible tie-in to the pre-existing canon that’s as if the writers took a page out of the Starfleet Standard Operations Manual. (The differences in the apperearance of the NCC-1701 – external, bridge, the differences in alien species, etc. can all be chalked up to 40-some-odd years of special effects advancement)

But all that came at an expense. As my brother pointed out – the characters are almost uni-dimensional. As an origins story, we really want to know about how the characters came to be, why they feel the way they do. Instead, you learn that Kirk was a (pne-fgrnyvat, erartnqr puvyq), who grows up to be a (one-oenjyvat, erartnqr grra), eventually becomes a (grfg-purngvat, erartnqr pnqrg), and ascends to the title of (Wnzrf G. Xvex, erartnqr pncgnva). Which is really why this movie isn’t so much an origins story, but a (cerdhry, gung’f ernyyl n frdhry ng gur fnzr gvzr orpnhfr bs gur cnen…) standalone story in its own right.

Well, at least the villain has depth? Sadly, his motivations are revealed in a 2-minute scene (vaibyivat uvf orybirq jvsr jub qvrq qhr gb gur urebf’ vanpgvba). So then, what are we left with? Good versus evil, evil is powerful, good rallies and wins, (nyzbfg) all is right in the universe.

Personally, I miss the days when Star Trek was about tragic heroes, of plots constructed around conflicting morals and differing points of view. But these were the later series. The original Star Trek was gallavanting about the universe righting wrongs and Kirk scoring women (a little over-reduced, but still valid). As much as I like watching that too, I prefer the kind of story arcs that started in TNG, developed in DSN, flushed out in VOY, and concluded in ENT.

Apparently, many other fans (as well as the mainstream audience) would disagree with me there, which was why Deep Space Nine is reviled in some circles, some people won’t touch Voyager with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole, and Enterprise floundered so badly. It’s too bad really, since much of those stories dealt with real world issues that we are having today – which is also perhaps the reason why some avoid these series altogether.

So, in its own merit, I applaud the movie. It is, afterall, show business, and so the franchise’s bearing will ultimately be determined by business motivations. I will mourn the loss of a kind of Star Trek I came to love (*), and embrace the new kind of Star Trek that is to be. It is a reboot, afterall.

* – Technically, not true. After the end of Enterprise, the powers that be decided to continue the Star Trek universe in two directions: the movie, and the MMO. The movie can take its story this way, and the MMO can pbagvahr gur fgbel orlbaq gur riragf jura shgher-raunaprq HFF Iblntre ergheaf gb Rnegu, naq fbzrjurer va orgjrra vf gur fuvg unccravat gb pnhfr riragf bs gur zbivr gb unccra – fuvg juvpu irel jryy znl unir orra pnhfrq ol cevzr-shgher Wnarjnl oevatvat cevzr-shgher-grpu onpx gb cevzr-Rnegu fb gung gurl pna tybevbhfyl fperj guvatf hc va gur svefg cynpr… gur zbeny bs gur fgbel: FGBC SHPXVAT JVGU GVZR.