We got invited to a morning advance screening of ‘Star Trek’, the new J.J. Abrams re-imagining of the original Trek TV show. The movie is destined for accolades. It simply rocks — as the kidz say — on so many levels. The jaded pre-screening invitees (mostly media and then general assorted parasite types) offered rousing applause at the close.
This is easily the best Trek movie since ‘Wrath of Khan’ (yes, we know, we know). The script is intelligent and taut. Like the best Trek of old it combines action, humor and sustained character interaction. The casting is inspired — these really are our old friends Kirk, Bones, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov again. It’s uncanny. Seeing them in 2009 makes one realize how much they’ve been missed.
The project could have easily flopped. Trek has developed into a listless pop culture joke. Abrams himself says he was terrified every day he might actually be making a sequel to the hilarious Trek spoof ‘Galaxy Quest.’ This Trek has one advantage none of the other movie incarnations had; for once, Paramount didn’t try to make space opera on the cheap. On a big screen the production values are gorgeous. The cinematography is lush and fluid. And we get starships and space battles as we always wanted them to be.
Our own take is that Trek as science fiction in this movie easily eclipses Lucas’ fantasy camp with its oddly national socialist emphasis on the
La Noonan ‘mysterious’ mystical and Aryan ‘Mitichlorian’ (wtf?) biological superiority. One scene encapsulates this for the Stiftung. A young Kirk, before joining the Academy, rides his motorcycle across the Iowa cornfields. Lyrical and beautiful on its own, the camera pulls back to reveal the starship construction site of the Federation flagship, Enterprise. It’s a completely integrated tableau, harmoniously mixing the ultimate in Americana sensibilities with the space faring industrial future.
One could be excused thinking the movie is a paen to Obama. Once again Trek is unabashedly about idealism, duty, and leadership. The energy crackling in every frame has a netroots aura. The look, feel and sheer creative energy harkens back to the Apollo and New Frontier dynamism. The movie could be called “Yes, We Can!”
Kirk 2009 is once again the embodiment American cowboys let loose among the stars. The cowboy who so enraged 1960s European chattering class sensibilities. Kirk again is an unabashed ladies man. Kicks ass in a fist fight? A big hell yes. Naturally assumes command, becalms the crew, and saves the galaxy? Natch. The American cowboy as *before* the Warlord ruined that iconography, too. A double plus good thing in the script is how they write around Jean Luc Picardism and erase the way TNG writers out of spite wrote that awful punk death for Kirk. Great stuff. You’ve just been pwned, Ron Moore.
Abrams rightly points out that production began three years ago, before Obama announced his candidacy. True. Besides the point as well. By so successfully bringing the best of Star Trek back to us, it can not help but be where Obama and the Nation are today. Here we see an America without cynicism, without expedient duplicity. In short, nothing for the Movement or what’s left of the Republican Party.
Not that the Right won’t try. Besides trying to turn Kirk into a poster boy for waterboarding-hardheaded-national security Bauerism, the Right dwells on Star Fleet and the Enterprise as 100% a military organization with a chain of command. (“A place for everyman and everyman in his place.”) An old point to Trek fans as ‘Wrath of Khan’ already went there 25 plus years ago. It’s a typical mistake for many on the Right given their cultural isolation. The Right has a curious relationship with pop culture generally – they’re at once fascinated by it while determined to destroy it. Making them the perpetual outsider looking in. We doubt their attempts to re-purpose this entertainment will succeed any better.
We could go on but will close with this — when Kirk steps onto the Enterprise bridge wearing that famous gold uniform, today’s audience burst out in spontaneous joy. Even if you’re not a Trek fan we think you will, too.