23 May 2013

Star Trek: Into Predictability

Don’t get me wrong here: I love the whole Star Trek franchise (and I’m disgusted that I am using the word franchise for something that I like). I generally love science fiction and who could go wrong casting Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, not to mention Zoe Saldana as a much more assertive and independent-feeling Uhura. So maybe I should have said “Into Delightful Predictability.”
There was some fun to be had with the references to the past. A balk (and some laughter from those in the audience with enough Star Trek history under their belts) when someone is asked to put on a red tunic. (In case you don’t know, the nameless guys in the red uniforms were always the ones who died in the original series.) There were some expected lines and affectations from the more familiar minor characters, including Chekov and his endearing inability to pronounce the letter “v”. (I’ll drink a wodka to that!) What I’ll really drink to is the range of uniforms and other outfits that the main characters get to wear — gotta love that form hugging underwater suit from the beginning, no girdle required!

Sometimes, though, those nods to the past erode what could be the originality of the new take on the story. Chekov’s accent is only cute for a limited time and don’t we all think that it might be a good idea to have the part of the Sikh superhuman Khan played by someone whose origins might be traced back to a part of the world a little closer to where a Sikh superhuman might come from? (As an aside, you did manage to sign Harold, why not Kumar, too?) And please, if you really believed in the Prime Directive you wouldn’t play so fast and loose with it.

Of course, the special effects are light years ahead of that ancient TV program. One of my favourite little touches was the displaceable hole in the brig forcefield that allowed them to take a blood sample from their prisoner without actually lowering the forcefield. Fabulous! The slight changes in some of the characters’ behaviour was also welcome: Spock and Uhuru hooking up! Kirk — that notoriously randy starship captain — roused from a bed he was sharing with two females of a humanoid species with prehensile tails. This last one might have been more surprising against the backdrop of current American moral norms.

It’s also the first time I have seen Star Trek characters wearing military-like hats. That scares me a little against the backdrop of our own government’s attempts to glorify the military and military history, but a good hat can definitely hide some pointy ears, if you need it to. I suppose I should be a little less sensitive on that issue for a science fiction show that has always involved a lot of shooting.

After all of that, I did enjoy it, but I also saw lots of ways it could be better. And UltraAVX 3D? Good, but I’m not sure that the reserved seating (and consequent ability to arrive late and still have the seat you chose) is work the $17 it costs.

Can’t wait to see the next one.

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