Tonight I, along with a small percentage of the geekdom scattered about the country, welcomed Star Trek Into Darkness into theaters with the midnight showing. Tempting as it may be, I promise no spoilers, though I will tell you the tribble is easier to find in this one. It took work last time. Anyway, the point of this post isn’t really about spoilers anyway, or even specifically this addition to the Star Trek collection (or should I say collective).
As I was driving home from the theater thinking about what I could and could not tell friends about the movie (since I promised no spoilers) I found myself thinking about my relationship with Star Trek. Earlier last night I was commenting to a friend on Facebook who was glad to see some Trekkie love going on that I grew up in an equal opportunity Sci-Fi family. I didn’t get introduced to the world of Dr. Who until older, but we watched Star Trek and Star Wars, Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits, Babylon 5 and a whole array of movies.
At a fairly young age my older brother and I laid claim to our fandoms – kind of like putting the duct tape down the center of the room. I was Star Wars and he was Star Trek. I read just about every novel published up until the prequels came out and he read The Physics of Star Trek. I hung up ‘The Wisdom of Yoda’. He has a framed bisected view of the Enterprise. That didn’t stop us from appreciating ‘the other side’.
I remember one set of roommates walking into the apartment while I had Enterprise on and asking why there were blue people on the screen. I got a lot further with Stargate SG1 with them. Having MacGyver playing a lead apparently covers a whole lot of ‘I don’t watch sci-fi’ sins.
What is it about our fandoms that makes us so passionate about them? Look at the recent dust-up around promo art with Merida joining the Disney princesses or, adjacently, all of the concern over what Disney is going to do with the Star Wars franchise. Can we dare hope that they’ll do as well by it as they have by The Avengers so far? To the uninvested these are just stories, fictional characters. To the rest of us they are so much more.
Going to see Star Trek Into Darkness for me was like meeting up with old friends. As the film opens up familiar music fills the theater and there goes a figure who has to be Kirk running, actually physically running, from some sort of trouble he’s gotten into. Spock is Spock. McCoy is McCoy. Scottie is…you get the idea. That is one of the things that I appreciate about the reboot. They may be on a whole new timestream but the characters are the same.
We store memories in so many ways and to me Star Trek is, in a way, going home. It’s not just that I know the characters, though it certainly ties in, but hearing that music brings back feelings of warmth and family. Watching a character switch to a red shirt not only gives a moment of trepidation for their survival but also a moment of silent laughter over all the red shirt jokes in years past. I even like the lens flares. Yes, I said it. Maybe it’s because I grew up on the original series, but they work for me.
Outside of maintaining character integrity, there are two things that I appreciate and am grateful to Abrams for doing. The first, and larger of the two, is that he appreciates the value of key moments from Star Trek past. I won’t they are because those would be spoilers and there is some turning of them on their heads, but the spirit is there. I am certain it would be easier to just say its a new cast in a new timestream and whatever with the past, so to take the time to get the spirit of those iconic moments right tells me that he cares about his audience.
The second thing is similar to the first is that he’s taken the time to understand the jokes and bring in those sly references for fans. Before going into the 2009 Star Trek one of the friends I was with said the movie would be made for him if a green-skinned girl was in it. Sure enough, there she was and pretty early on at that. There’s the redshirts and McCoy’s reactions and Chekov’s accent problems and those little things make the movie for me. It could be the best written script in the world, but if it were called Star Trek and were failing on any one of those three – characters, iconic moments or jokes – I wouldn’t have given up the sleep I so love to see it tonight.
It’s well past bedtime now so to sum up my experience with tonight’s movie – I laughed and I cried and I felt with the characters. I left more invested than when I walked in the door. There is little more that I can ask. If you’re a fan – see it.
If you’re not a fan but you love an adventure then you should go see it too. If neither of those fit you, but you love the sound of Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice you should probably go see it to.