A confession to get the ball rolling – I don’t like Star Trek. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can see the appeal – from a narrative point of view, it’s pure genius. You’ve got a premise which allows you to go pretty much anywhere, meet pretty much anyone, with a diverse and potentially interesting range of characters from all sorts of background. And even if this wasn’t a good start, you can then lock said crew of interesting characters inside a tin can, alone in the vacuum of space, and turn out the lights. All this is a Good Thing.
But, as established, I didn’t really enjoy the TV series (however many they’ve been). I’m afraid that next to Dr Who and Farscape, Star Trek’s approach to going anywhere in the known/unknown universe just didn’t catch me. Which made it all the more surprising for me to find myself at the cinema watching the new film.
First thing to be said about the film is that I saw it with my Dad. I suspect that a lot can be inferred about this film from the fact that it’s the kind of thing you see with your science-fiction-loving Dad, but hell, maybe that’s just me. I told myself that I was going to see it because my Dad wanted the company. I told myself I was going to see it because it had Simon Pegg in it, so how bad could it be really? But let’s face it, I went to see it because it had a lot of very big things blowing up at great heights, and I’m not alone on this count….
Second thing to say, is that I really enjoyed it. And I am naturally ashamed of this. But I am forced to give it full marks for sheer roller-coaster preposterous energy and splunk. Don’t get me wrong, the plot was beyond daft, and the last 3.5 minutes were a hopefully unintentional lift from Galaxy Quest. I don’t really know what to make of a film that is parodying the parody, but I guess Star Trek can claim that honour and carries it off with (some) dignity.
Third thought – you gotta respect the whole cunning resurrection of a franchise thing going on there. I mean, a lot of people have talked about reviving Star Trek and how the film was little more than a cunning attempt to make decades worth of dosh out of a continuing commercial franchise. And yeah, it is. And it does all of the above with class.
My final thought was this – ‘Blimey! Star Trek was nearly as good as Serenity!’
Which again, is high praise. Serenity once again ticks every box on the page for daftness, explosions and things being dropped from great height (mostly crashing space ships), and like Star Trek manages to throw in sexual tension, kung fu and utterly spectacular, eyeball-rattling set pieces, but… and here’s the bit that just sets it apart… it does it with wit. Very very few films where such a high percentage of the budget has gone on pyrotechnics usually have any budget left for wit, but Serenity pulls it off. It manages wit and emotion and drama and kung fu simultaneously, which probably prevents it from ever being broadcast on Channel 5 on a Friday night. Don’t get me wrong – do not sit down in front of a screen with a DVD of Serenity expecting to come away reeling from the scope of its imagination and the profound insight it delivers into the human spirit. But do sit down with it.
If you enjoyed Star Trek, you’ll love Serenity.
And if you loved Serenity, you’ll enjoy Star Trek.
Embrace the inner geek!