You know how sometimes, I’m really, really, late on movies and then I get super excited about them and I blog about them and everyone else is like, well, duh. Um. Yeah. Whatever, you know what? Not even sorry.
(1) I love stories about science fiction.
There’s just something so – freeing about them, you know? Particularly when they make no fucking sense. I mean, escaping from a singularity is preposterous, but so is picking out that single aspect to complain about when there are dudes with pointy ears teleporting onto a spaceship. So, you’re kind of freed from having to care about any of that sort of stuff, because it’s supposed to be campy and ridiculous, which allows you to focus on how freaking cool all of this is. And let me assure you, friends, it is quite freaking cool. Not that I have to explain to any of you what’s so great about sci-fi. You are reading a post about Star Trek.
Plus there’s all that stuff about how sci fi allows us to engage with the issues of contemporary society from a suitably detached viewpoint, allowing for a certain otherwise unattainable perspective, but let’s be honest, we’re all just here for the giant space battles.
(2) I love stories about friendship.
I’ve only ever watched the occasional episode of Star Trek, and my main takeaway from that was that I had no idea what was going on. Which is, I know, terrible, given my professed sci-fi nerddom, but the point of all this is that this movie was the first time I really got into the story, and so I had no idea about anything about any of the characters. So when we met Spock, and we met Kirk, and they were at each others’ throats, I went, huh, guess this is a story about professional rivalry. But then, all of a sudden, it was about them becoming friends, best friends, who made up for each others’ (pretty profound) weaknesses, and it was awesome. Petty conflict is great and all, but damn is it good to see people supporting each other. Even without prior fandom, I was rooting for the team to come together and kick some ass. Plus, that last scene, where Spock is all “I can provide character references” and Kirk is all “Dude, you saved my life literally five minutes ago,” was adorable, and I admit, I may have squeed.
(3) I love stories about optimism.
Christopher Nolan is the best, but good lord did he screw up superhero movies. I mean, look at this trailer for the new Superman. That’s just – no. Stop it. Superman is not dark and gritty. Superman is a dude in bright red tights who wants so badly to be completely clear about what he does that he has the word “super” in his name. Not a lot of nuance to be had there. But thanks to Christopher Nolan and his (quite good, but not perfect; I’ll fight with you some other time) Batman movies, every summer blockbuster has to be about some anti-hero crushed by the weight of how much society sucks. But this Star Trek had the audacity to posit that, hey, society’s pretty cool. It is, to paraphrase someone much smarter than me, where we keep all our stuff. It’s got all the people we love, and even the ones we don’t like all that much turn out to not be that bad when you get to know them a bit. Good people are rewarded, and bad people have their actions catch up to them, and even though tragic things happen, it’s not the end of the world. Star Trek truly believes that things can get better, that we can be saved by innovation and creativity and compassion, and that people who may not share a race or even a species can work together and love each other. “To boldly go where no one has gone before” might be a bit of a cliche at this point (in addition to being a split infinitive, which oddly I don’t care about nearly as much as my grammar fastidiousness would suggest I might), but it’s still a hell of a motto.
(4) I love stories about competence.
There is just something so abjectly satisfying about seeing people who are good at things do those things. Even though Kirk is a bit of a tool, I love that the movie also lets us see that he’s the best at what he does, and that he loves and derives satisfaction from doing it. Sure, he spends a lot of the first half of the movie hitting on women (with very little success, which, given that he looks like Chris Pine, I found the most unrealistic plot point of the entire movie; I have to believe that’s the only reason they threw in the sex scene). But that’s hiding a lot of drive and ambition and raw talent, which Pine manages to convey even when his character is being a total ass. So you never see plain douchiness; you just see genius waiting for the right opportunity to come out, which makes it logical and fantastically rewarding when Kirk becomes the captain (even without the nostalgia origin story factor I can see long-time fans getting). I just really like to see people in their element, which is what Star Trek allows its characters to do.
(5) This story was ton of fun.
Did it make any scientific sense and did I always know what was going on? Of course not, but who cares? This was a really, really entertaining two hours that embraced its origins in all of their campy, ridiculous glory. It was funny and ambitious and well-constructed and massively charming. Was it overindulgent? I mean, probably, but jeez, look at the Star Wars prequels if you want to criticize overindulgence. It had its darker moments – yes, there were two and a half genocides – but even though they were given the proper weight, those moments never swallowed up the rest of the story. This movie was focused on having a good time with characters that, if you didn’t love already, you would by the end, and it did that very well. There wasn’t even a cliffhanger, because they didn’t need one – I enjoyed hanging out with these people so much I really want to do that some more. (Pretty lucky that I only have a week to wait for the sequel, huh?) They’ve got themselves a pretty nifty universe right here, and I only expect that to continue with the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch and his cheekbones (which, yes, I do believe receive their own separate billing). In other words, I probably shouldn’t have put off watching this movie for four unnecessary years, and I plan on watching the sequel no later than the end of the Obama administration.