You know it’s an uncommon day when Marshall Anderson and Greg Berg see an opera but it’s not the highlight of their day! We spent most of the afternoon watching the high definition simulcast of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (a version of the Cinderella story) and had fun- but I don’t think it was quite as much fun as we had tonight seeing the new Star Trek movie.
First of all, I am a Star Trek fan from WAY back . . . although I have to say that my deepest loyalty is to the classic series rather than to any which came after. And I am one of those nerdy Trekkies who can do all of the dialogue for their favorite episodes (like “The Doomsday Machine” or “The Corbomite Maneuver”) . . . and I do mean every word. (Pathetic, isn’t it?) I am not so nerdy, however, that I have ever been the least bit tempted to dress up in a homemade Star Trek costume or attend a Star Trek convention . . . although if they had Star Trek Trivia Quiz Bowls, it would be hard to keep me away. Anyway, I fell in love with Star Trek as it first became a syndication staple in the early 70’s – and it has never really relaxed its hold on me. . .
. . .which is why I was awaiting this new Star Trek film with a strange mix of excitement and trepidation: excitement at the prospect of my beloved Star Trek being revived, but more than a little trepidation that they might screw it up royally. After all, the first Star Trek movie – which I remember driving sixty miles (to Omaha) to see, because I didn’t want to wait for it to get to Atlantic – turned out to be one of the most ineptly made films of all time. Several of the subsequent Star Trek films were better, although in all of them there have been moments of awfulness – and at least one of them (Star Trek 5- the one misdirected by William Shatner) was an even worse film than the first. So for me, Star Trek is something that is easy to get wrong, which is why I had some serious doubts about how good this new film would turn out to be.
As it turns out, we were far from alone in our curiosity, if the national box office numbers are any indication – and the 6:55 showing at Racine’s Renaissance Theater was completely sold out. . . which necessitated Marshall and I heading way down front, where we felt like we were three inches from the screen. (Holy Communion friends Ryan and Jill McDougall were even closer- in the very very front row- and I can’t imagine what it felt like there.) And because we were viewing the film on the Ultra Screen, it meant not only a huge screen but also gigantic speakers producing massive sounds which threatened to separate our teeth from our gums. (This film is not exactly “Bridges of Madison County”- it is earsplittingly loud – at least to an old geezer like me – and relentlessly so.)
So we walked out of there both blinded and deafened – but we both enjoyed ourselves immensely. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film and (much to my relief) nicely faithful to the heart and soul of the original. There’s plenty I would change, beginning with the plot. . . which is unnecessarily complicated. (There is something wrong when two college professors, both with masters degrees, find themselves more than once looking at each other and asking “what just happened?”) I don’t know why creative consultants in the business believe that the people who attend these kind of films want plots this thick and intricate, with mind- blowing plots centering around black holes, alternate realities, distortions in the space-time continuum, etc. Whatever happened to good guys and bad guys? But the look of the film was impressive and the cast was absolutely terrific – and I was especially happy that the second tier characters- like Sulu and Chekov and Uhura- were given interesting stuff to do. And if this movie felt like a dramatic update of the original, it remained true the original in most of the ways that count. And bringing back Leonard Nimoy truly sealed the deal for me.
But here’s my highest compliment. . . I can’t wait to see the next movie. My only request: that I am more than six inches away from the screen when I do!