06 May 2009

Pre-Release Star Trek ‘09 Comments

The new Star Trek film, sporting the fascinating title Star Trek, comes out on Friday; it’s already picking up rave reviews, but I’ve felt excited about this project since its first announcement. I had already started to craft the first part of my review of the film in my head, a sort of prologue to explain my relation to the Star Trek franchise before getting into the details of the movie itself. Then I decided, “Why take up a large part of the review with a prologue that I can write and post before I see the film?” So here are my pre-Star Trek release comments as a preamble to my review that will appear this weekend.

Whenever I deal with the Star Trek franchise, I have to ask myself this question: “Am I a ‘Trekker’?”

Actually, I should put the question to other people. For folks who consider themselves Trekkers, they would answer: “No, Ryan Harvey is not a ‘Trekker.’ ” Their reasons: He hasn’t watched all the TV shows, has never bothered with any episodes of Voyager or Enterprise, faded out from watching the last two seasons of Next Generation, has never read a Trek novel, has attended zero conventions, and has never taken the time to dress up as one of the characters. And he doesn’t know a word of Klingon.

For non-fans, the people who only know Trek through pop-culture or who have perhaps seen a few of the movies and a couple of episodes from the different television shows, their answer would be: “Yes, Ryan Harvey is a ‘Trekker.’ ” Their reasons: He owns all the episodes of the original show and has seen all of them, watched most of the The Next Generation and all of Deep Space Nine, knows the background history of the show in detail and also many details about the in-Universe history, knows what the “Dominion War” is, owns all the films on DVD as well as the soundtracks, and can hold a conversation about Trek-topics that last more than five minutes.

So, I leave it up to you to answer the question: “Is Ryan Harvey a ‘Trekker’?”

My own answer to the question is non-commital: “I like Star Trek a lot. At least, some parts of it. I enjoy its sprawling background and its focus on science-fiction over pure action. Some of the television shows were great—the original series, Deep Space 9, some of The Next Generation—and some of the movies are terrific entertainment. It can provide campy kicks, emotional power, or thrilling adventure. Star Trek is enjoyable, thoughtful material, and I’m glad I can enjoy it.”

Even before Star Trek: Nemesis came out in theaters in 2002 and vanished in a puff of smoke without making any impact, I knew it would spell the end of the series for a stretch. And I didn’t mind, since the franchise was in one of its weaker periods and need a swift kick to the groin to get it going. When people asked me what I thought the Star Trek mavens should do to get the series moving again, I offered a very Taoist answer: “They should do nothing. Let ‘Star Trek’ simmer, let people decide they want to see it again because they miss it, and then hit ‘em with something big.”

And I knew what I wanted for “something big” and had no problem telling people, even the hardest of hardcore Trekkers, what it was. I wanted the old crew back, played by new actors.

And on Friday, that’s exactly what I’m getting. And I’m very excited about it. I think most non-Trekkers will feel the same way, and that’s something that Trekkers should feel great about. So spoken like a true not-really-sorta-won’t-commit semi-Trekker.

That’s done. Now I can just dive into a review in a few days and talk about the movie without further personal maunderings.