Positive Cynicism – Boldly wasting my 10 bucks

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

I guess I wouldn’t be worthy of my geek cred if I weren’t planning to go see Star Trek, even with everything it has going against it.

Like what, I’ll just go ahead and imagine you asked? Just a few things.

1. A director I don’t really trust.
But here, I’m willing to be proven wrong. I have to admit, I’ve never seen a movie he’s directed, I just really hated Felicity and Lost pisses me off so much that I’d rather not watch J.J. Abrams swan around in search of a plot. (I was ambivalent about Alias, for anyone keeping score.)

2. Writers who have mainly written garbage.
And Michael Bay garbage at that. I remember Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci first and foremost as writers for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess (though they did not move on to Young Hercules, the show that makes it impossible for me not to giggle whenever I hear Ryan “Young Herc” Gosling referred to as an acclaimed actor). Those were fun, tongue-in-cheek shows that have dated rapidly. But mostly their film career has consisted of tired rip-offs (The Island), uninspired sequels (The Legend of Zorro) and Transformers. And I don’t have enough space here to even begin to describe why I thoroughly despised Transformers.

No, wait. Here’s one example: you know the scene where the Autobots are trying to hide in the backyard? Because Spike (I don’t care if they called him Sam in the movie, his name is Spike, dammit) is trying to hide them from his dad? A scene that Joe Dante could’ve handled, but which sort of proves Michael Bay has no sense of humor? I shouldn’t be watching a scene like that in Transformers. I should never be watching a scene in Transformers that leads me to think: You know, it’s too bad these giant robots can’t turn into cars and just hide on the street where no one would notice them, or something. Maybe when they find that magic car battery they keep blathering on about they can fix that. (And was anyone else uncomfortable that the movie ended with the two leads making out on top of their friend Bumblebee? Thank the maker that the credits began before the inevitable Shia-Megan Fox-giant robot threesome started.)

What were we talking about? Oh, right, the negative points against Star Trek.

3. Chris Pine as Captain Kirk.
Have you ever seen Just My Luck? No? Well, first off, you’re the lucky one. I wish I could say the same. And second, when you can’t even out-act Lindsay Lohan in a dime-a-dozen romantic comedy, that’s just embarrassing.

4. No balls.
Everything I read about the film existing in some sort of alternate timeline just sounds like someone without the guts to simply remake Star Trek apologizing to longtime fans. Because why tell a story when you can instead be slavishly devoted to continuity? Stories are overrated!

5. I’m just tired of Star Trek.
It pains me to say it, but I really am sick of Trek. I still have fond memories of the original. My mom was a fan of the show. Actually, my mom was a fan of a lot of things: Star Trek, science fiction, the space program, Carl Sagan … and when I was about eight years old, she transferred her love of these things on to me. Star Trek was only playing on local Chicago reruns then, just starting to hit VHS, and I became an emphatic fan. I was 10 when Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home came out in theaters – the same year the Challenger exploded after take off. Science and science fiction were a big part of my life – they still are – and the catalyst for all of that was Star Trek. Star Trek and my mom. I think for her the future presented on the show was a place of wonder, of excitement, of intellect and action, of discovery and exploration. And it was the same for me, too.

But over the years, Star Trek has withered and become smaller. Star Trek: The Next Generation was fastidious and slow; it had its moments, but it took the vastness of the cosmos and made it, well, not such a big deal. People just went to work there. Sure, there were some things they did, like Q and the Borg, which really felt dangerous and expansive. But for the most part, it was just a show. It wasn’t special to me the way the original series was. And those same people that made that show took Star Trek and ran it into the ground for 15 years with boring episode after boring episode, forced allegory upon forced allegory, and made science fiction absolutely routine.

Do you remember when Star Trek: Nemesis came out about seven years ago? It was the tenth Trek feature. The reviews were awful. Fans hated it with a passion. It was somehow the worst thing the name Star Trek was ever attached to, supposedly even worse than Star Trek V. The reviews were so harshly negative that I never even bothered to see it in the theater, the first time I hadn’t rushed out to see one of these movies since I was 10. When I saw it on video, I didn’t think it was that bad. Honestly, I liked it much more than I liked the previous film, Star Trek: Insurrection, which I felt put the crew on the wrong side of a contrived moral dilemma. It was still tired, but it wasn’t a terrible movie. I think the reality was just that people were incredibly tired of Star Trek. That seems to be the truth of it. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad, it was just too much. No one wanted or needed it.

I’ve been hearing a lot of cynicism directed towards this new movie, and I’ve given it my fair share. But I’ll be in line to see it next weekend for one major reason: the previews are exciting. And I don’t mean the action, necessarily, or baby Kirk driving a fast car, or anything like that. What I mean is that, somehow, the trailers have a sense of something new and exciting and terrible and great and dangerous and thrilling. It has the sense of the original series. The sense that hurtling into space and exploring the stars is as terrifying as it is exhilarating; that discovery and exploration come at a cost of hardship and horror. Every preview I see doesn’t hang on the nostalgia factor or keeping some continuity going. It hangs on a sense that the film is recapturing a manner of genuine science fiction. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve seen anything involving Star Trek and not felt like I already know everything that’s going to happen.

And that’s a big deal. That deserves my attention.

So I’ll be there, hoping that my experience brings me some kind of joy and reminds me why I liked Star Trek so much in the first place. And my mom will be there, too. And I hope we can share that feeling once again, that the future is a place of wonder, of excitement, of intellect and action, of discovery and exploration. Of seeking out new life and new civilization and boldly splitting our infinitives. All of that trumps whatever trepidation I have about graceless writers, unskilled actors and irritating directors.

And I hope the movie repays the compliment.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

  1. Lee April 28, 2009
  2. Joel Murphy April 28, 2009
  3. Johnny Yen April 29, 2009
  4. Joelle April 29, 2009
  5. Aaron R. Davis April 29, 2009
  6. Joel Murphy April 29, 2009
  7. Aaron R. Davis April 29, 2009
  8. Joelle May 5, 2009
  9. Aaron R. Davis May 5, 2009

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