Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek Reboot -- Escape from the Swamps of Canon


It is probably a "spoiler" to tell you that the new Star Trek movie takes place in a different universe that runs parallel to the familiar Trek universe of the TV show and most of the other movies. But I don't care. The film does an adequate job of documenting the critical events that caused the time-lines to diverge but some people seem to miss it -- which irks me. So, if I can save one moviegoer from having to sit next to a trekker with a booklight clipped to his dogeared copy of the Star Trek Encyclopedia flipping pages and muttering to himself during the movie, this small spoiler seems worthwhile. The Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc. in the film aren't supposed to be the same Kirk, Spock etc. as the ones you have seen before. It's not a mistake if there are differences.

I've heard the alternate-universe plot described as a writers crutch. I guess it is... or, actually, more of a writer's prosthesis -- a marvelous device that lets a lame series with its legs crushed under tons of accumulated detail get up and dance a jig. The Star Trek franchise has been hoisted out of the Swamps of Canon and made fresh and new.

Not of course that the film is perfect. There is, for instance, a scene on an ice planet where our hero is pursued by a series of increasingly large critters and every time the monster at his heels is replaced by one bigger and scarier he screams like a girl and runs faster, his only plan apparently being to keep running until he is saved by the inevitable Deus ex Machina. I didn't like that part very much but it was short. And I wasn't satisfied with the makeup on the obligatory green Orion woman with whom Kirk makes out -- her lip color didn't suit me. But, except for those small flaws I liked the film a lot. I remember thinking during the end credits that I would have liked rent out my house for the summer and move into the theater where I would live on stale popcorn and Star Trek until it was time to move across the hall for Harry Potter.

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