Friday, May 8, 2009
Ages ago, in the days of web 1.0 there was a humble website called The Brunching Shuttlecocks. This was the stone age equivalent of CollegeHumor, the premiere source of time wasting circa late 90's to early 2000's. Well the Brunching folks had a Self Made Critic who while reviewing Star Trek 9, came up with this formula for Star Trek movies.
Start with 50 Points, then add or subtract accordingly:
-The Film was based on a TV episode: +20
-The Film featured one of the stars of 7th Heaven: +10
-The Film featured Spock's Father as Spock's Father: +5
-The Film featured Spock's Father as a Klingon: +10
-A major member of the series was killed during the film (either permanently or temporarily): -15
-The captain had some kind of new love interest (ex-wives do not count): +10
-The main story nothing to do with anyone related to a crew member: +10
-Star Trek got religion: -20
-There were extensive ship-to-ship battle scenes: +15
-The Enterprise was destroyed: -10
-The Film was directed by the first officer: +10
-The Film was directed by the captain: -10
-A guest star was once nominated for a Golden Globe Award: +5
-The film featured a minor actor in a minor role who would eventually become a regular cast member on a Star Trek series: + 5
-The crew of the Enterprise saved earth: +10
-The Film was really an allegorical allusion to how we, as a people, need to be nicer to each other: -15
-There was something weird going on with the all-logical/non-feeling character of Spock and/or Data: +5
-The crew of the Enterprise broke a direct order from Starfleet: -5
-Someone traveled through time: +5
-The Villain was a machine, a bunch of pansy whales, or God: -15
-The Villain was Mr. Roarke: +15
Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 75
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 90
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock: 50
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: 85
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: 5
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: 90
Star Trek: Generations: 70
Star Trek: First Contact: 120
Star Trek: Insurrection: 70
Star Trek: Nemesis: 70
So utilizing this formula, and depending on your interpretation or mine, the score for the newest film is between 100 and 130. In layman's terms, this movie is pure unbridled eye bacony (yes I made that word up) sex.
I am a Trekkie. If you're reading this, then you are one too, or you lost a bet, or I made you read this. Either way, I know my Trek. In fact before the movie even started I won a free popcorn by answering Star Trek trivia in front of the theater because I am that geeky. This movie is not my Star Trek. This is beyond my Star Trek. And yet it is my Star Trek. And it's everyone elses, it's the Ipod of Trek, friendly, accessible, loaded with good sound and display.
If you've ever followed any of the TV series, you know that Star Trek started as a cult show, became a pop culture giant, and then imploded on itself. The last movie didn't make money, the last series was cancelled. And then in the wake of reboot fever, the gods of Hollywood boldly went where everyone went before and tried to go where no one has gone before; making something ultra geeky ultra sexy. When I say this is not my Trek and yet it is, I use this example of how it works and if you're not afraid of spoilers then read on, this movie uses time travel. Did I spoil the movie for you? Only a little, but chances are if you're here then you already knew time travel was involved in the movie to some extent so I'm going to continue with this little tangent.
In one of my favorite Futurama episodes, Fry goes back in time and becomes his own grandfather. He is told not to mess with the past because it will affect the future. This is standard science fiction. So what does Fry do? Become his own grandfather. His fellow time travellers, seeing that he changed the past and forever altering time, literally say "take that causality" as they take their space ship and shoot up Area 51 whilst stealing a microwave dish, essentially flipping off the time space continuum. And you know what, the show continued on as Futurama, not Alternate Futurama, just Futurama. That is this movie.
Awesome to watch? See the formula above, it's a rollercoaster of a movie. It doesn't drag on, it doesn't beat you over the head with weighty philosophical questions like you'd expect from a Star Trek movie, yet it still showcases humanity at it's finest by showing how vulnerable we can be and how strong we can become. Expect what you'd expect from any of the series; shields fail, transporters save people in the nick of time, phasers stun, Bones is acerbic, Chekov talks funny, and Kirk tries to get jiggy with alien babes. We know these things, we expect these things because pop culture made us expect it. Would people who don't watch Star Trek like this movie? Yes, because it's made to be a great movie that just happens to be a sci fi. Would the hardcore Trekkies love it, even the crazy nitpickers who we all know lurk in their mother's basements? Yes, I'd even venture a double yes for the hardcore fans. Because like the Futurama episode, this movie says "take that causality," and in the end these are still the adventures of the starship Enterprise.