It was another tough week at work. So on Friday afternoon, 9 of us walked across the street from the office and saw Star Trek on opening day. We entered the theater at 2 o’clock, loaded up on popcorn and soda, and when we stepped back out into the sunlight later that afternoon, the world looked a little bit different, and that’s exactly why we went in the first place.
The title of the movie, simply ‘Star Trek’ suggests that no more explanation is needed. This is a rejuvenation of a franchise decades old, and the merits of this film have nothing do with with cinematography, plot, story, science or fiction. Watching Star Trek is all about enjoying the action, remembering the old characters we grew up with, loving the digital special effects and dreaming about big spaceships.
Seeing a starship of the Enterprise class sitting on an immense scaffolding on Earth, presumably in a sort of dry dock, being built or repaired, with the high reaches of it being hidden in the clouds or mist, accelerated my imagination. I didn’t think about the fact that a starship like that could not possibly be built within the well of Earth’s gravity in the first place. How would it ever get away and into orbit? I was not supposed to ask such questions, because that scene simply exists to amaze us visually, and I accepted that.
Similarly, three people were dispatched for a critical mission. First they were beamed into the middle of the enemy ship, where they appeared practically on the bridge, inconveniently for them. Why? To attract attention? Then after miraculously fighting themselves free, they jumped out of the ship in space suits in free fall first, then by parachute, along a giant space drill, that reached from the orbiting mother ship down into the Earth’s atmosphere. They had to land on a tiny platform just big enough for hand-to-hand combat, kilometers above the Earth, where they engaged in a fist and sword fight with the bad guys. Saving the Earth always seems to hinge on a sword fight, doesn’t it? Why didn’t they get beamed right onto the platform? The parachute jump was treacherous. One guy didn’t make it.
You will find a lot of things like this in the movie that you simply can’t explain and should not try to explain. This isn’t about science. This isn’t about fiction.
Star Trek is a prequel to all the other Star Trek episodes and movies that came before it. It tells the story of how the crew got together in the first place, how Kirk became captain, how Spock became the first officer, and how McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov came to be in their positions. The whole movie is an excuse to bring back Star Trek, so it can start anew, this time with 21st century digital artistry and not cardboard planets and plastic space ships.
Now let’s wait for the next movie, which will surely come, and we all will surely go again, where we all have gone before.