Written by: Carson McKnight, Special to CC2K
OK, first a quick test to make sure this article is for you:
You are a crew member of the USS Enterprise from the original series. You are about to beam down to a planet with other members of the crew. What color shirt do you hope you’re NOT wearing?
- What is this, a fashion magazine?
OK, if you answered 3, then read on. If not, check the other review of this movie, it’s probably going to be more your speed.
Here it is Star Trek fans, The Motion Picture you’ve been waiting for. It has it all; including a great villain with a lust for revenge that rivals even the Wrath of Khan. He on a Search for Spock and man will not be disappointed; does it ever set the stage of a great film. This really feels like a Voyage Home, a return to that Final Frontier where it all started. Not once did I wish to be in that Undiscovered Country that Hamlet spoke of. I mean, for Generations we have been watching Star Trek and somehow J.J. Abrams has brought back that feeling we had when we had First Contact with this series. Of course some feared he might stage some sort of Insurrection into the franchise and become a bit of a Nemesis to fan, but no, he delivers a great movie with some excellent little surprises for the fans.
This film does a great job of staying true to the Star Trek vision that Gene Roddenberry had, and also add some flash and action that has been missing in most of the original series outings. Gone are the cardboard sets, the aliens that only look people with weird noses and computer readouts that are only flashing lights. What does remain are some things that I really enjoyed. We see a few women in dresses that are straight out of the 60s. And women in no dresses at all with green skin! You like tribbles, keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see one. What else will give you feelings of home? How about the training of the young Vulcans? You may recognize it from the beginning of Star Trek IV. And remember part of this takes place at Starfleet Academy so you can bet people will be talking about the Kobyashi Maru. And even Captain Archer gets a mention. The last thing I’ll point out is that if you were a fan of little creatures that wind up in people’s ears you’ll see a familiar friend, or at least one of its relatives.
So back to what has changed. Well . . . the cast for one. But don’t worry these folks do a great job of picking up the mantle of the cast we all know and love. Yes, they have different takes on the characters, but they are takes that I didn’t mind at all. I will always love the originals no doubt, but I am happy to see their roles given this youthful exuberance. What we have here is basically an alternate reality. They ARE the same characters, but they are the same characters under new circumstances.
Another change is the use of stardates. If you are a hard core Trekker you may have certain stardates memorized. Well, it’s time to throw those numbers out. At one point Kirk states a stardate of “2258.42.” My guess is they have finally simplified the stardates to reflect the actual dates on Earth. 2258.42 would be April 2, 2258. It’s a guess, based on nothing more than speculation, but it seems to fit. It places this slightly before the beginning of the original five year mission form the TV show, but hey, why not, right?
I have to say I was thrilled with this movie. If you felt like I did that Nemesis didn’t live up to its place with the even numbered films then this is just further proof that the “curse” is broken. No telling which Star Trek films will be good anymore, because this would be film number 11 and it rocks out. It brings back action and adventure, it captures that human spirit that Roddenberry was so hopeful about (and thank goodness) and it’s fun! The addition of humor always made for some of the best original episodes and this is no exception. Don’t get me wrong, this is an action film. A sci-fi film. It is not a comedy, but it has a lighter side and is not afraid to smile (as was the case with so much of Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
So I’ll leave you with a little list. These are some episodes and movies you should watch before seeing the films. Why? Well, maybe you let your Star Trek watching slide over the past seven years (since the last film). Or maybe you have a friend or (dare I say it) girlfriend who you’re taking along and hoping to hook with this new film. Or maybe you just have a free Saturday and want to see your “old friends” again. Whatever the reason, a watching of these will serve you well while you’re sitting in the dark on May 8th, falling in love with Star Trek all over again. Enjoy!
Star Trek: the Original Series
The Naked Time
The Trouble with Tribbles
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: the Next Generation
Unification Parts I and II
Star Trek: Enterprise
These Are the Voyages