Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek Rant

Originally posted at Cinevox. Spoliers, of course.


Spoilers abound, of course.

So Peter, Beth, Cindy and I saw it.

My goodness, my transformation to effete film snob is nearly complete. I know intellectually this movie isn't half as bad as it felt (or maybe it was) and that I'm responding as much to the adulation it is getting (confirming my growing suspicion that most of the people in the world who aren't me--or at least agree with me 95% of the time--are idiots) as its mediocrity.

Peter and Beth want a full-on ATK rant. Not sure I'm up to that--but I guess I'll give it the old James T. Kirk try. The abbreviated version, in rising order of what I found irritating:

--the prolonged and ever increasing chase factor, turning the franchise from a science-fiction film into an action film. Mission: Impossible in space, if you will.

--either be a reboot (and ignore the continuity issues/problems) or a prequel (and spend time explaining how to get Nimoy, etc into the movie), but don't do a half-assed job at both and thus a satisfactory job at neither.

--The explicit coda delivered in dialogue for those too stupid to understand what a movie they have just seen is about.

--(I realize I may be the only one who cares about this one, but...) I find it to be the wrong cultural moment for the political self-congratulatory tone of our humanistic, Western federation valuing of life and even mercy towards our enemies. Spock is supposed to be the moral hero because he recognizes he has been "emotionally compromised" and thus relieves himself of command. Kirk offers mercy to the terrorist slayer of 6 billion life forms b/c that may be the only way to build a diplomatic bridge to the terrorists? Sure, he's happy when they say they'd rather die than submit, allowing us to simultaneously exercise genocidal vengeance yet still feel morally superior in, you know, a Christian sort of way. It's the sort of fantasy wish fulfillment of the sort (pandering to our basest instincts masquerading as moral superiority) I haven't seen since, well, Left Behind. Rather than deal with or even acknowledge our most problematic (Kaplan uses the word "shameful," I think, in Female Perversions) urges, let's construct fantasy scenarios in which giving in to them is actually required of us and therefore morally noble rather than compromised or even base. It's the philosophical/moral equivalent of the Kobyashi Maru scneario--let's rewrite the program to that some problem isn't a problem at all and congratulate ourselves at our cleverness in being able to have our cake and eat it too. I've never been a great follower/fan of the television incarnations, but I've respected what I've seen, in part because there seemed to be an actual ideological idea or world-view that was being expressed. This film reminded me of the first Harry Potter film--working feverishly to get in all the superficial surface paraphernalia (as though those were the things that made it great rather than just nostalgic buttons to push) but totally whiffing on the spirit that animated them and made people love it in the first place.

Should make a couple gazillion billion dollars and serve marvelously as a tent pole reboot. And it's my fault, because like the last two Star Wars movies, I know I'll probably go see them all.

On the upside, I had a great afternoon with friends and family, so that was well worth eight bucks. I guess if I had to choose between that and loving the film but finding the people I see it with really annoying, I'll take the company every time.

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