For as long as I can remember, fairy tales have been the centerpiece of my imagination. Sure, I’ve always enjoyed science fiction — in fact, one of my favorite books is still H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds and my first novel was born out of a late night with Star Wars and I watched The Next Generation and Wrath of Khan with my mom — but princesses and castles and happily ever after had always been more of my thing.
Then, I married a Trekkie. You’d never catch him wearing Vulcan ears or hanging out in costume at a convention, but he is to Star Trek what I am to the works of Tolkien. He can give the name and plot summary of any Original Series episode before the theme song starts. He has a technical manual for the Enterprise. He owns and enjoyed the Animated Series. (If you haven’t see it, don’t even think about it. It’s painful!)
Fortunately for him, I was never opposed to Star Trek. (Good thing, too, because it would have been a deal breaker.) But I was never a fan.
That is, until he made me one.
It started slowly. We watched The Next Generation together because I hadn’t seen them all. And while some of them were downright painful, some of them were pretty good. Then we went to Deep Space Nine. Then Voyager. And somewhere in the middle of the Delta quadrant, I realized that he had converted me.
Since then, out of revenge, I’ve read him The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring and now we’re part way through The Two Towers, but that doesn’t change the fact that maybe I’m kind of a Trekkie too now…
… which means that I can speak a bit more intelligently about the latest movie than I could have five years ago. So, here’s a take on it that’s as spoiler-free as I can get.
Star Trek Into Darkness
While J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek has had mixed reviews from Trekkies, it’s been a favorite in our house. After all, what better way to add a new twist to the franchise than using a favorite technique — the alternate universe — to give new life to its roots?
And, while the first movie distances itself from the Original Series, this one pulls itself closer, reimagining what would happen if an old villain (who will remain unnamed) resurfaced under a new set of circumstances. Iconic lines are quoted, memorable scenes relived in reverse, and we’re left with a fresh (and more action-packed) take on a villain I didn’t think that they could pull off.
The story doesn’t go into great detail plot-wise. While that might leave those with less Star Trek knowledge wanting more, it lets the rest of the audience put the pieces together, imagine the details without being told directly what happened. And that’s something that I enjoyed because it’s a touch of the mystique that a book or an Alfred Hitchcock film have. Instead of being spoon-fed, I’m allowed to let my imagination fill in the missing details and to experience the events in the same way that Kirk, Spock, or Bones would as the story’s being told in brief to them.
It does, however, do what Star Trek has always done: deal with current issues and make social commentary. You can easily tell that it’s written in the post 9-11 world in which the question of using drone strikes against American citizens is still under debate. And that’s one of the things that keeps Star Trek a little on the edge, whether it’s an interracial kiss or what to do with a baby cloned without its biological parents’ knowledge.
The only complaint mentioned here: it’s still lacking much of the trademark technobabble. They don’t tell you if they’re going warp 5 or wrap 9. But that’s okay with me. I’m sure it’ll start making its way back in eventually. And besides, The Next Generation had more than enough to make up for it.
Needless to say, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should. If you like Star Trek, it’s a rousing return to an iconic situation. And if you don’t, then maybe it’ll be enough to start pushing you towards becoming a Trekkie too.