I like to think that I walk that fine line between “watching Star Trek” and “being a Trekkie”. So while I may glean a great amount of enjoyment out of watching even the worst episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, you’re not likely to see me debating the transwarp capabilities of a new kind of Borg vessel; I might be nerdy, but I’m not quite at “full-scale USS Enterprise reproduction in my living room” levels of geekdom. Star Trek, basically, for all of its intricately detailed mythology and universe, is impossible to take seriously as straight science fiction. It’s just far too ludicrous. And I suspect that Gene Rodenberry knew this better than anyone – the original series was played with a wink-and-nod mentality that was nowhere to be found in any of the subsequent iterations: for all of Jean-Luc Picard’s brilliance, he was far drier and stiffer than Kirk’s testosterone-driven, adventure-seeking philanderer. And the Treks‘ tolerability generally works in inverse proportionality to their seriousness: the original series was bundles of carboardy fun; The Next Generation was less so, especially when Troi did her “I sense anger in the bellowing alien” schtick; Deep Space Nine and Voyager were variable – sometimes fun, sometimes unbearably solemn; and Enterprise was the most misguided, stupid, flappy prequel series since, well, the Star Wars prequels.
So when I heard that Ray-Jay (JJ) Abrams was in the director’s chair for the canon-resetting prequel-sequel not-your-father’s how’s-your-father Star Trek movie, I was less than enthused – Abrams being a high-calibre “cuss-magnet” as far as quality narrative goes. Cloverfield was an effective enough monster movie, in that it had a pretty cool monster, but it also featured a cast of repugnant 20-something idiots, all of whom you wished would die within the first ten minutes of the movie. Lost was, and continues to be, a mystifying success, marrying incoherent plot to a cast of unsympathetic skanks – you have to believe that anyone who’s still watching it does so out of a morbid need for an ending that would somehow give meaning to the countless hours they’ve sank into watching and dissecting every last minute of footage that exists. The only thing Abrams has been attached to that I’ve even remotely enjoyed has been Alias, and that was only until it changed from a nonsense spy drama into a nonsense family drama. Was there even the slightest hope that Abrams could make a Star Trek movie that wasn’t the most incredibly awful thing ever?
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