At The Movies: A Star Trek Fan Says Yay and Not Nay

 

I cannot necessarily say that I’m a Trekkie. If you’re unsure what that word means, there’s a 1997 documentary called Trekkies that will update you on the obsessive die hard qualities of a Star Trek “groupie”. Perhaps because of that documentary I have a perceived notion of a Trekkie as an obsessive fan with a large knowledge of Star Trek cannon, terminology, and plastic wrapped paraphernalia. I myself don’t have much in the ways of collectibles outside of an unfinished figurine of Gorn throwing a spear at Kirk, and several pins and hats with movie phrases. I don’t known Klingon. I’m not sure if I’ve watched the entirety of The Next Generation. I’m unsure of Vulcan physiology (although I know their blood’s green right? and their heart’s positioned somewhere else like an insect), and I will not do cosplay. I don’t have the motivation, but I will give you a thumbs up for your dedication if you’ve spent hours creating pointed ears out of wax. Seriously though, cosplay is an amazing display of dedication.

That being said,my gateway into the Star Trek franchise was Voyager. It wasn’t the best of the series, but it participated, like many of the other shows did, in contributing more lore, more baddies, more diversity and moral quandaries that I’ve associated with Gene Roddenberry’s science fiction legacy. One of my favorite movies, which I know almost line for line, is Wrath of Khan, so you can imagine my dismay when Star Trek Into Darkness ruined one of my favorite villains. That isn’t to say that Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t an excellent actor ( I luv Sherlock Holmes BBC), but the characterization of Khan in Into Darkness holds no complexity. The original Khan had brutish tendencies, but mainly because he erred greatly in his obsession. For the most part Khan was an excellent leader, commander and strategist. He was a smug intellectual and tyrant. He was also an icon of mixed heritage and diversity. George Takei said the name Khan was meant to be East Indian, is with an East Indian name and Latin actor, Khan was a symbol of the diversity that naturally flourished among humanity before they were able to contend with the diverse species they would find among the stars. After all , how could humanity fathom the complexities of different species if they were unable to even tolerate the differences among themselves? Due to the simplification of what Khan stood for, and a plot that only seemed to replicate The Wrath of Khan in the worst of ways, I was ultimately weary of watching another Star Trek movie.

(On a side note. I really dislike Spock yelling out Khan. I really. Really. Dislike. That.)

The new up to date Star Trek directed by Justin Lin had a bit of convincing to do before I would even think of watching another Star Trek Reboot , but after watching the trailers I was convinced not only by the plethora of action scenes, but also by the diversity of cast behind and in front of the camera.

Star Trek Beyond does not have radical ideas or complex plots like many of its predecessors, but it tries to toe the line between the brand of the blockbuster reboot, and the canon Trekkies are familiar with. Kirk has matured since we last saw him. Bones is Bones is Bones and grumpy as usual. Spock is pondering mortality, as all Vulcans are wont to do I suppose. Uhura, Sulu, and Chekhov are our supporting cast, but they’re given the opportunity to interact with everyone, solidifying the entire crew’s importance. We don’t receive complex characters, but we do have a general impression that this is the sort of team we can root for and that is more than enough.

While I did say  Star Trek Beyond  does not possess the same level of complexity as previous movies, this does not downplay what Beyond seeks to achieve. The pacing of Star Trek begins a bit slow and introspective, and when the danger hits it surges at every pivotal point. There is always danger of phenomenal proportion, whether its sliding down the face of the Enterprise towards the planet below or fighting in the air on a space station planet devoid of gravity. Ultimately Beyond is a great blockbuster movie that creates Star Trek nostalgia, but it’s a franchise that seeks to stand on its own. It is not a film to uphold the Trek cannon, but it may inspire a new generation of cosplay. This conviction towards the new and innovative is what sets it a part from the other three reboots and makes it a viable franchise.

Kudos to Justin Lin and his team for what will probably be a long run of films if JJ Abrams has his way, and let’s not forget either the charismatic Anton Yelchin who brought one of our favorite onscreen Russians to life.

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