I’ve decided to watch and review every Star Trek movie over the coming weeks, and this post, instead of being a fully realized essay detailing every issue I have with All Things Trek is meant to serve as a brief introduction to where I’m coming from as I sit and watch these movies. I actually wrote this piece as the opening to my reaction to The Motion Picture, but it became too long to be placed in the review of one movie.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Star Trek doesn’t move my needle. This is not the same thing as hating it, but rather I view Star Trek, in all its forms, largely with indifference. I’ve seen only a handful of episodes of The Original Series, a couple season’s worth of Next Generation and Deep Space 9, a few episodes of Voyager, and even less of Enterprise. None of them could sustain my interest. None of them pulled me in and kept me interested like Starblazers or X-Files or Babylon 5 did. I’ve watched all of the movies except for maybe the last TNG film or two, and enjoyed most of them to varying degrees. We didn’t go to the movies much in my family growing up, but I do remember my dad taking us to see Search for Spock and Voyage Home at the theater, so I have a soft spot for the franchise. I watched and loved Wrath of Khan and Voyage Home as a kid but I never really felt any need to go back and watch them. I read a couple of the novels, too, but I couldn’t tell you their names or plots or anything, really, except they focused on TOS crew. And I have vague memories of the cartoon, as in, I can picture what the animated cast looks like.
I have, in other words, zero Star Trek street cred.
I fully admit this, so if you want to stop reading right now, go ahead. If you want to tell me that “You don’t get it,” or “You don’t understand,” well, you’re right, to a certain degree. I never have gotten it, and I don’t understand how this episode contextualizes that movie, or why almost the only thing I remember about Enterprise was that seemingly everyone took that Diane Warren-penned theme song was an affront to all that was, is, and shall ever be holy. (See, I can remember who wrote the theme song, even though I can’t remember the song itself.) That I don’t get it is why I’m interested in giving it all a fresh look.
I have no reason to want to like it all more than I hate it, or vice versa.
Just as I’m doing write-ups of Doctor Who serials (and man, how I wish I’d started doing them back when I started watching Pertwee and not halfway through Colin Baker), I’m going to watch all of the Trek movies (and only the movies) in order. I was looking for a franchise to watch from start-to-finish, and I don’t have the stomach at the moment to endure either Batman and Robin or Beneath/Behind/Betwixt/Between the Planet of the Apes.
I was thinking of doing the Superman movies, but my self-loathing extends only, so far. Plus, I can review them all in eleven words:
II: Sucks, except for Zod.
III: Really Sucks.
IV: Franchise Killer.
Returns: Franchise Killer.
And there’s this: I really dig the relaunch movie from start to finish (minus the Beastie Boys’ sequence). I understand that liking the J.J. Abrams film is considered heresy by many, so, yeah, again, I’m a horrible person. We’ll get to that movie at the back end of this trip down Warp Drive Lane, but I think Abrams and Paramount made a mistake doing the film more as a reboot than a proper relaunch with a new cast of characters. The money the movie made at the box office tells me that my opinion is probably dumb.
If I had to pinpoint a primary reason for my Star Trek indifference, it’s this: I honestly find it to be generally pretty boring. For every Kirk or Spock that was interesting, there were a handful of Datas and Rykers who failed to … Engage! (Right, Picard said that?) Other than Khan, everything about Star Trek just felt too tame, too sterile. Hey, I was a kid, I wanted a little bit more swashbuckling instead of diplomacy. I’m interested to see if those early reactions are still valid or if it’s all changed.
(Change is possible. I used to actually enjoy ketchup, once upon a hamburger.)
While I applaud the franchise’s racial harmony, it feels completely phony to me, akin to the WASP-ish liberals patting themselves on the back for inviting the Black Panthers to tea. It’s great that we have Klingons and Vulcans and Romulans and Tribbles to navigate racial, cultural, and ethnic conflict, but it would be so much more interesting to me to have that conflict tugging and pulling at the crew. I remember a few times when Picard would get all pro-French and I thought it was pretty cool.
Plus, the death of Kirk? Lamest heroic death ever.
All told, while I’ve liked the odd Star Trek movie or show, I’ve never been compelled or engaged or challenged by the franchise. (Not even DS9 could keep me interested past season 3, though I hear it does pick up later on.) It’s just never done it for me, in either a positive or negative way.
Heck, I even thought the Enterprise was sorta lame, with its flying saucer top and thin-winged back. I can appreciate it more now, but as a kid? Wasn’t happening.
We’ll see how this all turns out.