Monday, April 5, 2010

The thing about Trek....

I got Star Trek (the 2009 JJ Abrams version) on DVD for my birthday and even though I missed it at the cinema, I knew it would be good. Abrams really nailed the sci-fi re-boot which was a fun, action-packed, old fashioned adventure that managed to respect the source material while still setting itself apart as something new and fresh.

It was one of those films that I wanted to see again straight away, and couldn't wait to get into the DVD extras. For me, that's a rare thing indeed.

One thing Abrams said was that the challenge was to re-invigorate the franchise and in so doing make it possible for anyone (from the hard-core Trekker right through to the completely uninitiated) to enjoy the film. That's a tall order, but in my opinion Abrams and crew managed to pull it off. Let's hope the sequel does away with the so-called 'odd-number Trek curse':

So now I'm all excited about things of a Trek nature, I think I should point out that I'm not a Trekker. I've always had a bit of a love hate relationship with the Trek. I'd always considered myself more of a Star Wars kind of guy, but thanks to the betrayal/fiasco/letdown/pig's ear of the Phantom Menace and Abrams' directing efforts on the new film my loyalties aren't quite as clear as they were.

This is difficult for me as my gripes with Trek are many and varied:
- Why have the bridge on top of the ship's saucer where it's easy shooting for would-be baddies. Surely, the bridge on a starship should be right at the core of the craft? They have video cameras in the future as well, you know.
- The Next Generation was all a bit dull and relied too much on characters employing convenient science mumbo jumbo plot devices in order to resolve any problems.
- Trek technology is never quite convincing enough. We have phones that can communicate across the planet and it's only 2010. It will be another 200 years before Kirk and crew get to lark about in space. Surely the Federation will have come up with something infinitely more advanced than our humble iPhones.
- The writers too often use time travel in the story while having little concern for the repercussions. One example of this blatant disregard for all things chronological is in the new Trek film which (here be spoilers!) completely obliterates an entire timeline (and therefore perhaps negating every Trek series or film that was ever made previously).

Having said all this, I do have a small amount of affection for things Trek-related. There is something endearing about the comradeship that exists among the crew of the various vessels, plus if you take away the sci-fi nonsense, Trek is essentially a human story where men and women overcome great obstacles all for the greater good of humanity (or something like that anyway). The notion of what Starfleet represents (i.e. an intergalactic humanitarian peace-keeping force) is also quite laudable.

One can't deny the cultural impact Star Trek has made over the last few decades. Most people, I think, are familiar with aspects of the Trek universe - and I'm sure the sci-fi show has inspired countless inventors and scientists to go on and do what they do.

So am I about to commit my life to the ways of the Trekker? Actually, no. In my opinion, the hard-core Trekkers who are out there have a quai-religious attachment to Trek - meaning their loyalty to the franchise is unflinching and non-critical.

They also prance around in Trek uniforms which is just silly*.

So that kind of devotion is totally out for me. All I can say, however, is that I have a new-found healthy respect for Trek and recognise its worthy contributions to all things sci-fi.

Well done, Gene Roddenberry!

*however, if anyone bought me a miniature Enterprise for my birthday I would be inwardly very excited...!!

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