Anna and I returned a little while ago from seeing the new Star Trek reboot. My short take on it is that the film was great. There was just enough hearkening back to the original series and films to satisfy long-time fans, but not enough to drag the film down for new ones.
The pace was fast and the special effects impressive but perhaps the most impressive feature of the film was the casting; it was great. I felt like everyone did a good job of inhabiting the characters and portraying them familiarly–since these are characters that have become part of our cultural consciousness in many ways–yet also making them their own, and breathing in new life. The casting of the big three: Kirk, Spock and McCoy, were all great, as was Scotty, though he didn’t get a lot of screen time.
One of the things that folks have commented upon is that this film isn’t perceived as “preachy” in the way that some previous Star Trek endeavors have been. In some ways that’s true, but the core of the old Trek principles are still there. One of the things that makes Star Trek enjoyable and enduring is the optimism it has about the human condition, or at least our ability to better it. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series was a humanist, and this came out in the original series as well as its film and network descendants. Whether it be the fact that Star Trek was the venue for the first inter-racial kiss on a network TV show, or the various plots that were clearly intended to draw attention to the absurdity of our own prejudices (I’m thinking especially of episodes such as “Let that be your last battlefield (scroll to bottom to see the clip))”, the series has always served to direct us to the better Angels of our nature. While there have been times where it has done so in a sort of campy way, and other series such as the New Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5 etc… that are more open about the evils of human nature have been a relief from the shining hope of a human future depicted by Trek, on the whole the positivity of the future envisioned by Roddenberry has been a beacon.
Indeed, it may be no mistake that the original Trek was birthed and at it’s height during the Cold War, while this successful reboot comes at a time when we are engaged in another long-term engagement with enemies who are seemingly opposed to the humanistic vision put forward by Star Trek and for whom we may be tempted to harbor animosity bordering on a denial of humanity. For that, Star Trek may submit some response: while we are all human and flawed, there is something of intrinsic worth in us that enables us to reach for something better–it gives us the ability to work for peace and even equips us to reach for the stars.
All-in-all, I highly recommend that you go and see this film. It’s worth it, and you’ll enjoy it. A hand off has been made, I look forward to seeing where they go from here.