Star Trek was one of our family traditions for a while. Especially after the divorce when my mom, my sister and I lived together in a tiny two-bedroom apartment, we needed rituals for sanity and solidarity. First we had The Doctor Who Club, and then when TNG came out we had The Star Trek Club. All the club involved was us sitting down to watch the show together and eat potato chips with dip, but that was special. It was the only show we all watched together, the only day of the week we ate junk food, and - much like the family readings of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien - in retrospect it turned out to be a very influential part of my early youth.
When I got older I still watched all the Star Treks, even after Babylon 5 and other more arc-y sci-fi shows put the Treks to shame, because tradition. I still look back on them fondly, because they seemed to have such a sweet and optimistic outlook on the future of humankind. Sure, through the lens of modern values and vastly better science fiction shows it ain't much, but what it was at the time was important. Hell, TOS influenced an entire generation.
But, yanno, never saw the movies. My favorite Trek movie for the longest time was 4, mainly because it was the only one I had seen. I also remember watching the one with the Klingons and the weightless strawberry yogurt. That's pretty much all I remember. Oh, and the dune buggy one. When I quit my job and fled the country ~4 years ago I went to visit a bunch of LJ and FB friends. One was my oldest friend - jenndolari in (at the time) Austin, Texas. She was surprised I hadn't seen any of the movies, so gave me a bunch of rips of the Star Trek flicks to entertain me on my ongoing travels.
Of course I never got around to watching them. First I was too busy traveling, then I was too busy working. I never have time to watch movies. I watch lots of television - I marathon entire seasons in a day - but for some reason starting a 2 hour movie feels like too much of a commitment.
Anyway, all of this is to lead up to my review of the Star Trek TMP, which I finally watched for the first time yesterday. And, my, it was good. It was much better than I thought it would be. Of course, being a sci-fi nerd, I already knew the big reveal before I even turned on the movie. But I was very impressed with how enjoyable the whole setup was.
The only non-cyberpunk hard sci-fi on TV right now is The Expanse. It is a brilliant show, but it is only one show. And - let's be honest - there has been very little non-cyberpunk hard sci-fi on TV ever. So Star Trek TMP really hit that Big Dumb Object, Mass Effect, God-Like Alien, Golden Age Of Sci-Fi spot for me. It was very slow and could easily have been episode-length without losing any of the impact. But it was so good. I wish that kind of sci-fi was more popular.
Tonight I started watching Star Trek 2. Dear God, how boring. I guess I finally found out where the Kobayashi Maru concept comes from. Hooray. There is also some kind of campy Mad Max dude. Eye fucking roll. It reminds me very much of the new Star Trek 2, which I watched in the theater in German a few years ago when my grasp of German was far less developed. I guess the hardcore fans hated the new Star Trek 2 because it ripped off the old Star Trek 2, but so far (I am halfway in) the new Star Trek 2 was basically the same but with better special effects. Which makes it better, period, since the whole point of popcorn flicks is special effects. It's why Avatar was better than Star Wars was better than Star Trek (when Star Trek goes popcorn).
Perhaps I have an odd taste in movies. I mean, Star Trek TMP was up against Alien in the same year, and although they are both very different movies, I enjoyed both. But Star Trek 2 came out a year after Escape From New York. You can pretend Dark Star didn't exist and Alien was the first truly awesome science fiction movie ever made but Escape From New York changed the freakin game, man. 1982 was same year as Blade Runner. You can't pull out some talky campy Mad Max whatever movie when EFNY had Snake Plissken and a score that takes a giant dump on all science fiction since ever. And Blade Runner had noodles and neon. Star Trek will never win on score or characters or cinematography or set design, it has to win on Big Ideas.
Now, since my media player crashed and I will apparently never get to see the second half of Star Trek 2 perhaps I am missing the Big Idea. God knows it took at least an hour for Star Trek TMP to get to the Big Idea. But still. So far, not impressed.
Let me play this song before I reboot to see if I can finish watching Shatner not being as awesome as Denny Crane and shirtless guy being hokey and shirtless.
John Carpenter - The President Is Gone